Saturday, April 21, 2007

Calling for Good Conduct

Blogging turns you into a carnivore. ~ Dave Weinberger

Tim O'Reilly is a well-known and respected publisher of some of the best technically oriented computer books available. Jimmy Wales is the well-known and and considerably less respected creator of Wikipedia. This odd couple has come together to suggest that a Code of Conduct for bloggers is required. Predictably, the blogging community (whatever that means) is up in arms at the prospect of maintaining civility in the blogosphere.

The proposed CoC includes such ideals as:
  • Banning anonymous comments (sure, a posting from "kewldude" identifies the poster immediately;
  • Ignoring trolls (like that's ever worked);
  • Displaying (if you can believe this) a logo in the form of a sheriff's badge with the words "civility enforced" emblazoned on it;
  • Alternatively displaying (and this is as silly as the badge) a logo in the form of an exploding stick of dynamite with the words "anything goes";
  • Warning readers that the blogger is not responsible for the potential tripe posted by commenters (as though the stick of dynamite wasn't bad enough).
Gentlemen, I predict that even if this bit of hubris was adopted, it would be every bit as effective as the Code of the National Association of Broadcasters was in keeping gratuitous sex and excessive violence off our television screen. About the only thing the NAB Code ever managed to make stick is the prohibition against showing people drinking alcoholic beverages in commercials.

This attempt at corralling the wild-and-woolly universe of the blog was evidently inspired by the threats posted on the blog of Kathy Sierra. Now, I certainly don't condone such anti-social behavior, but, regrettably, celebrity has always brought out this sort of nut. Any entertainer of note has received such letters, and some have had the misfortune to actually be stalked by such kooks. But, anyone who wants to send a threat will do so. If they can't post it on the blog, they'll send it directly via e-mail or even use -- hard as this may be to imagine -- a letter.

If one sets aside the threat factor, the concept of being abusive, surly, profane, and generally rude on the Internet is as old as the 'Net itself. When the Usenet ruled the ether, except for the few moderated groups, flame wars, trolls, and general abuse ruled the day. If you wanted instant ridicule, all you have to have was an AOL e-mail address and a post on a techie group.

However, I don't want to be entirely disparaging of a man of Tim O'Reilly's stature (Jimmy Wales I'll disparage all day). Therefore, I wish to make public the Gog's Blog Rules of Conduct (patent pending).
  1. It's my blog, and I'll be as dumb as I want to be as long as I can use big words while doing it. I may actually know what some of them mean.
  2. Posters to the blog, should there ever be any, must avoid bad language, especially clever anatomically impossible acts that I don't understand.
  3. Posters must not levy threats of violence, because, frankly, I don't deal well with stress, and I'm not famous enough to rate any special protection from the authorities.
  4. Everything in this blog is my opinion. Sorry about that.
  5. There's no conscious plagiarism going in this blog, but I must warn readers that I have been known to channel Ernest Hemingway -- on his bad days.
  6. This blog may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the Commissioner. Price does not include tax, title or dealer prep. Your mileage may vary. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. Some settling may occur in shipment. Portions of the preceding were prerecorded.
  7. Readers coming to this blog in search of enlightenment, entertainment, or brilliant prose are going to be sorely disappointed.

For those who are really gluttons for punishment, here are some earlier commentaries about blogging:

Much Ado About Blogs
Blog Furor
The Blogs Are Gonna Getcha
To Blog or Not to Blog: Much Ado About Not Much
Checking Out the Daughter's Blog

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