No twinkie badges here.

I was doing my best to ignore Tim O’Reilly’s misguided effort to play hall monitor to the blogosphere, wishing it would just go away. But unfortunately the New York Times did not ignore it. How could it pass up a juicy opportunity to make us all look like the louts they all too often think we are? An above-the-fold, page-one headline in today’s paper labeled his crusade “A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs.”

So O’Reilly only set us up to be called nasty, unmannered, and thus uncivilized hooligans. Except for Tim, of course. He’s the nice one. Me, I feel like the goth kid with premature tattoos skulking down the hall.

But the problems are far more fundamental and dangerous than that. And just gratingly twinkie, too.

This effort misses the point of the internet, blogs, and even of civilized behavior. They treat the blogosphere as if it were a school library where someone — they’ll do us the favor — can maintain order and control. They treat it as a medium for media. But as Doc Searls has taught me, it’s not. It’s a place. And when I moved into the place that is my town, I didn’t put up a badge on my fence saying that I’d be a good neighbor (and thus anyone without that badge is, de facto, a bad neighbor). I didn’t have to pledge to act civilized. I just do. And if I don’t, you can judge me accordingly. Are there rules and laws? Yes, the same ones that exist in worlds physical or virtual: If I libel or defame you on the streetcorner or in a paper or on a screen, the recourse is the same. But I don’t put up another badge on my fence saying I won’t libel you. I just don’t. That’s how the world works. Why should this new world work any differently? Why should it operate with more controls and more controllers?

Go to Jimmy Wales’ wiki where he and O’Reilly set up their code of conduct. The earliest version was short and, thankfully, not terribly sweet. But they didn’t know what they were starting. They only opened the door for more people to come in and embroider the code with saccharine insipidness and their fondest wishes for laws that would take effect if only they ruled the world (cue theme music). The current version as of this writing (which reflects O’Reilly’s own post, where he adds his sheriff’s badge) begins:

We celebrate the blogosphere because it embraces frank and open conversation. But frankness does not have to mean lack of civility. We present this Blogger Code of Conduct in hopes that it helps create a culture that encourages both personal expression and constructive conversation. One can disagree without being disagreeable.

I don’t need anyone lecturing me and telling me not to be disagreeable. I won’t take it from Continental clerks when flights are canceled. I won’t take it from you. I’ll be disagreeable if I want to be. And I am right now.

But it gets worse. They argue for taking the public, transparent nature of this world and putting up opaque walls, saying that we should deal with people privately:

We won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t say in person. If tensions escalate, we will connect privately before we respond publicly. When we encounter conflicts and misrepresentation in the blogosphere, we make every effort to talk privately and directly to the person(s) involved–or find an intermediary who can do so . . .

Oh, goodie, that’s just what I want: trolls at the doorstep. This is a public space. That is its greatest strength. That is the key to its credibility. Tear down your walls. I argue that newspapers should be dealing in public, transparently. So should bloggers.

They also want to eliminate anonymous comments. The latest code — an escalation of the earlier version, I should add — decrees: “We do not allow anonymous comments.”

My own stand on anonymity, stated frequently in this space, is that I will not give full respect and credence to things said by people who do not have the balls to stand behind their words. When people complain that I’m trying to get rid of the anonymous nature of the web, I say no, I wouldn’t do that. I’m simply telling you the way I judge your words when you’re too chicken to put your name on them.

What’s worse is the ignorance displayed by the latest code authors who define verification of identity this way: “We require commenters to supply a valid email address before they can post, though we allow commenters to identify themselves with an alias, rather than their real name.” Well, that gets us nowhere. I can go to Yahoo and get an email account with a bogus name in 60 seconds. That verifies nothing except that I have no life and have the time to do that.

I had a good discussion about this with Clay Shirky’s NYU class last week. I said that at first blush, I would like the option of using a system of verified identity. I could read blog and forum comment only from people who had aforementioned balls and stood beside their words. But with the students, we raised a number of problems. If sufficient sites require verified identity then anonymity and the benefits that come from it — see bloggers in China, Iran, and Iraq — fade away. And what is deemed to be verification of identity? My credit card, Social Security number, passport number? Who verifies that? What third party now has the power to certify or decertify me? What of my privacy and the ability to tie back to, say, my financial records? Identity is tricky.

I am real. You know that. I put my name and face on this blog. People have met me. They will verify my identity. I stand behind my words and my mistakes and changes of heart are visible for all to see. I leave most comments here untouched but I reserve the right and exercise the right to kill comments that are abusive, off-topic, or irritating. I do that rarely but all know that I will do that. You either trust me and respect me based on what I say here or you do not, and there are plenty in the latter camp. Transparency and publicness are what drive that. Not some silly code and badge.

But here’s the real danger in this: This code threatens to give back the incredible gift of freedom given us in Section 230. Go read about that. Section 230 says that we are not responsible for content created by someone else on our sites. It was created because before that, if a site said it would police content and missed something, it was held more liable than if it had not tried at all. That came out of what was known as the Prodigy case. The result was the site owners didn’t touch anything and so nastiness could only fester and grow. So Section 230 holds that we cannot be held responsible for what others create and we have the right to kill what they do create on our sites. That is vital — vital — to free speech because without that protection site owners would clamp down on all speech and try to control anything and everything that could possibly get them in trouble. No open forums. No real-time discussion. No YouTube. No MySpace. No internet.

The Times describes the codes this way (my emphasis):

A subtext of both sets of rules is that bloggers are responsible for everything that appears on their own pages, including comments left by visitors. They say that bloggers should also have the right to delete such comments if they find them profane or abusive.

So imagine the challenge to Section 230 . . . . A lawyer says to a blogger in the witness box: ‘You put that badge on your site saying that you are responsible for everything on that site and you do kill comments that violate your code, which assures that no one will be libeled or defamed, and yet you left up this comment (wave printout menacingly) that defamed my good client.’ If I were that attorney, I would say that you waived the protection of Section 230. That would be dumb. And dangerous.

I just spoke with a public radio reporter about another case of something bad happening on YouTube. As all reporters do, this started with an effort to look for standards and rules and lines crossed. I said that the lines are the same as in real life. But reporters make the mistake of judging the internet in their own image: as a medium that can be, should be, and is controlled, sanitized for our protection. The internet is not that; it’s not a magazine or newspaper or radio show or library. It’s a place. It’s our place. And we will behave in it as we do on our other place. Most of us are good and adhere to the rules of civilization. Some don’t. The difference is that our place called the internet and the blogosphere is judged according to the worst of us: It is, to quote the Times, “a World of Nasty Blogs.”

Note that it was only at the end of the Times story that we heard any dissent or caution about this code.

Robert Scoble, a popular technology blogger who stopped blogging for a week in solidarity with Kathy Sierra after her ordeal became public, says the proposed rules “make me feel uncomfortable.” He adds, “As a writer, it makes me feel like I live in Iran.”

Amen, brother blogger.

: See also these people I know and trust and for whom I need no badges to recognize their authority and civility (especially since they agree with me on this): Rex Hammock

However, when it comes to my personal blog, a “code of conduct” is something I practice on a personal level, not something someone drafts for me. That said, I do think having model guidelines for those who create community-space projects or forums is a good thing. I don’t like “seals of approval,” however I do like good suggestions, recommendations and idea-exchanges on issues like this.

Dave Winer:

Of course the NY Times couldn’t resist putting it on page one since it confirms their assertion that the blogosphere is a bad place. Maybe next time well-intentioned people will avoid the rush to perform for the big publications.

Michael Arrington:

I’m not turning off anonymous comments, I’m not going to always try to talk privately with someone before i write, and I’m also not going to allow a mob to decide what types of words constitute “unacceptable content.” And I’m certainly not putting a badge on my site that says whether I comply or not. The code of conduct and the mass of bloggers lining up behind it scares me a lot more than the hate comments and death threats I’ve received in the past. I won’t support it.

Juan Antonio Giner in the comments:

Let me add that as someone that holds a Journalism degree but also a PhD in Law, that “the best law is no law.” Period.

Matthew Ingram’s headline says it all: “You are your code of conduct.”

Robert Scoble:

I do find disquieting the social pressure to get on board with this program. Tim O’Reilly is a guy who really can affect one’s career online (and off, too). I do have to admit that I feel some pressure just to get on board here and that makes me feel very uneasy.

Kent Newsome:

Here’s an Idea: Just Be Nice

Rather than try to recreate the world, how about just apply the real world rules of common sense and courtesy to the blogosphere. Everyone interacts with other people all day every day in the real world, and we don’t need Tim O’Reilly to rewrite the Golden Rule for us.

Seth Finkelstein:

You can proclaim peace-and-love all you want, the people who gain by advocating war-and-hate, or are personally nasty as a character trait, won’t care, except to the extent that they can posture over it.

And then there’s Anil Dash, whom I also know, like and trust, disagreeing with me in the comments:

I agree that a blog is a place. Are you saying you want to live in a place where anonymous threats of violence are acceptable, commonplace, and unpunished? Isn’t that contradictory with the whole war-on-terror thing?

And how does a few people signing a pledge change that? Do the miscreants sign it? It’s a feel-good thing that is not only meaningless but, again dangerous — for all the reasons I list above and one more: It makes you think that you’ve solved a problem just because you signed a pledge and posted a badge.

I worked for many years in magazines and newspapers, where they sign all kinds of pledges from all sorts of industry organizations. But they were empty. I saw people who’d signed them do plenty of things that I found unethical and I quit one job — the most visible job of my career, at Entertainment Weekly — over this. I saw workers in those industries get to ridiculous detail about some fine point of the pledge and miss the big picture. Those magazine editors would never put a Ford ad next to a story that mentioned Ford because the pledge said they shouldn’t. But I saw those same people (all of them gone now) sell their company’s soul when they tried to make us nicer to entertainment at the same time the company was merging with an entertainment empire. Years before, another editor I respect greatly, Pat Ryan, protected me from such pressure when I wrote reviews critical of the company new division, HBO. No pledge covered these cases. Judgment and ethics did. By the way, when I left that job, as I believe I’ve mentioned here before, I did not receive the standard three years’ salary, bonus, and benefits magazine editors got because I refused to sign the company’s shutup clause (which I found doubly abhorrent coming from a journalistic organization). Then, as now, I believe in transparency. I retained the right to tell you the story I just told you. I wouldn’t sign this pledge, either.

These pledges are all the more dangerous because big-media people think they are ethical and we’re not because they have pledges and we don’t. Let’s not fall in that trap. You have to make ethical judgments every day with every thing you do and no pledge is going to help you do that. Your mother either did that job — or didn’t.

: One more thing (that’s a lie; I’ll probably have more things later): Making a pledge for somebody else often doesn’t work. My town passed a silly law and wasted money making silly signs declaring it a “frown-free zone.” Everytime I see that sign, I frown. And growl. That’s what happens if you try to tell me what you think I should do.

: LATER: I got a call from a reporter doing a story on all this. His angle: Bloggers don’t want a code because we want to, in his words, spout off. I spouted off at him.

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  • http://www.innovationsinnewspapers.com Juan Antonio Giner

    Let me add that as someone that holds a Journalism degree but also a PhD in Law, that “the best law is no law.”
    Period.

  • http://dotnetjunkies.com/WebLog/paul/ paul

    Great post Jeff, Timmy is all about PR.

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  • http://grancanyonhiker.com Ken McNamara

    I posted this last week to the O’Reilly discussion – it was dimissed since reputation is regarded as meaningless on the web:

    A graduated reputation system with levels based on a person’s willingness to take responsibilty for their remarks, provide identifying information and accept scoring by the web community at large might go a long way to solving this problem.

    If you don’t solve it technically this kind of stuff is going to end up in court and further damage the usefulness of the web (consider how far email has come – not).

    additional thoughts ##
    I probably should have said, “Consider how far email has fallen – anonymous spammers and a whole host of petty criminals have damaged its usefulness.”

    Anyway, solving the ID problem on the web could have profound a profound effect.

    Thank you for taking open comments.

  • http://jonnygoldstein.com Jonny Goldstein

    I’m with you and Scoble on this one.

  • http://www.anildash.com/ Anil

    I agree that a blog is a place. Are you saying you want to live in a place where anonymous threats of violence are acceptable, commonplace, and unpunished? Isn’t that contradictory with the whole war-on-terror thing?

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  • http://www.crazyfinger.org Crazyfinger

    Deadwood. The blogosphere of today feels like that town, with its own version of Swearengens, E. B. Farnums…

    PS. Deadwood = David Milch’s HBO series.

    Crazyfinger

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  • http://blog.frivolousmotion.com Kevin Keating

    Any system of badges is only meaningful as long as people restrict themselves to using the sanctioned badges, but that creates a dangerous insider/outsider situation that only reinforces the tyranny of the A-list. If you don’t know/don’t have/don’t want these exact badges (lord knows they don’t exactly fit with the look of most blogs), you lack credibility.

    I think we should make a ton of badges – mix and match them freely to define or not define our own spaces. I whipped up an “Outlaw” one based off the “Civility Enforced” sheriff badge that’s free for all here : http://blog.frivolousmotion.com/2007/04/blogger-outlaw.html

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  • http://www.tommydevine.blogspot.com Tommy Devine

    JARVIS

    YOU

    RULE!

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  • http://keithneilson.co.uk mandrill

    Bravo, said basically the same thing as I did but far more eloquently. But then I’m relatively new to this game.

  • http://eckenrodehouse.net Nathan

    ooh! I have been looking for just another badge to splash on my blog- but then again who really cares if i follow this so-called code of conduct, my words and subject matter are only A-list material to my mother and since i know she is reading my blog that’s reason enough for me to keep grumbling, erm, yeah, uh…..

    ….i’ll just agree with you if you don’t mind. thanks.

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  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com tish grier

    You know, Jeff, when Nancy White, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Bice, Grace Davis and myself hosted a panel on civility in the blogosphere at SXSW Interactive last year, nobody bothered to show up except a few people who hosted message boards.

    And we weren’t there to talk about message boards. We were there to talk about blogs–about the disagreement between Jimmy and Grace and how they worked it out; about my getting Instalanched and skewered by the Hamsherites, and how Bill and Nancy saw where we could turn the conversation around.

    Where was Tim O’Reilly on that one? We never heard a peep from him…

    What happened to Kathy wasn’t so great–in fact, I was particularly sickened by some of the comments. But now we’re getting a call from O’Reilly because it happened to someone he knows? Talk about hypocracy.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    Jeff:
    Perhaps you would like to extend your comments as to how you think the flap over Imus’s non-PC remarks should be handled.

    Many are calling for him to be fired. As a libertarian I assume that you would feel that it is up to the advertisers and the listeners to decide if they want to continue to hear him. If he loses support then he will be taken off the air.

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  • clvrmnky

    Per your comment on anonymity (or pseudo-anonymity) I will continue to use a long-time pseudonym online because I have no reason to confuse my real life with what I do on the internet. The fact is, all the folks who need to know who I am already know who I am, and I have a longish history using this very pseudonym online for quite few years. In fact, the people I know might be more inclined to trust a source if it was tagged with my pseudonym over my real name simply because they’ve known me (in the internet sense of that word) only as clvrmnky for a great many years.

    That is, I am not /hiding/, so much as /separating/. Truly interested parties can easily find out who I am, or simply ask me. I see no need to have the electronic flotsam of every blog entry and comment stretching out behind me; at lease not as a private citizen. When I’m wearing my corporate hat I use my real identity (as it is defined by my employer). Since my semi-private and public internet selves have no need to collide, I prefer if they are treated separately.

    Furthermore, I’m not sure using a real name online is any guarantee of anything, since the people who already know me would vouch for me already, and those who don’t would never know if I was “real” or not whether I used the name “fnord” or “John Q. Realname”. Your example of a 60-second Yahoo account is just as easy to get with a real name as it is with an obvious fake name. If someone isn’t otherwise on the Google radar, how would anyone know? Search for my real name and you will get thousands of completely and partially related hits, none of which have anything to do with anything I’ve said or done. I like it that way.

    For the great majority of us who are not famous, except in our tiny circle of blog, it makes no difference to anyone else whether I rant under an obvious pseudonym or a recognizable regular name (which may or may not be verifiably correct, at least by laypersons). There is no other way to actually vouch for anything I say, and since my words are aimed at a specific circle of folks (some of whom I know from Real Life, and others who I only know from the internet) stumbling across my blog is no different than overhearing a conversation I might be having with a circle of friends. One is free to chime in, or even object, but the bare facts are that the conversation was not intended for anyone else (but it was not secret, either).

    There are even stronger reasons to use a pseudonym on the internet, many of which orbit around the fact that some people have no wish to be contacted by certain other people from their past. In the spirit of inclusiveness, we /must/ allow for the freedom of a person to be reasonable assured that their steps on the internet will not be traced by someone that do not wish to hear from again, or at least in their own good time. Semi-anonymity is crucial to allowing people to participate online with their friends, neighbours and peers without worry that this participating is public to specific people. This is regardless of the fact that those other people do or do not intend any harm or malice — that is, we have to respect the desire for people to not be contacted or seen at all by other people, simply because this is their wish. Pseudonyms allow for online participation while still respecting that wish.

    As you say, identity is a hard thing to pin down, but not using the partial anonymity of pseudonyms is no stronger mark of identity, at least for the great majority of people I know.

    For these reasons I only ask that folks who want to remain somewhat anonymous use and maintain a pseudonym when contacting me through my blog, simply because it makes it easier to form replies. I am under no obligation to accept /or/ police such communication, but I will not demand people stand behind their words as some particular identity that I may never be able to actually verify with any accuracy anyway.

    I otherwise agree that O’Reilly’s Code is misguided and wrong-headed.

  • http://www.windycitymike.com Mike Harris

    Halle-FRAKKIN’-lujah.

  • http://www.francispage.net Christopher Francis

    Great post, Jeff! I believe you reap what you sow, and blogging is merely an extension of how you live. Act like a twerp, attract the twerps. I don’t need a code of conduct to tell me that.

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  • http://www.oabdi.blogspot.com Omar A.

    I couldn’t agree more, Jeff!

  • Gavin M

    I’m confused by Anil Dash’s comment. Why try to link blogger behavior to “the whole war-on-terror thing”..? What’s that got to do with it?
    I completely agree that the whole issue comes down to personal ethics. The kind of people who are aggressive and combative in (anonymous) blogs are probably the same kind of people who get into road rage incidents because they feel invincible and somehow separated from the consequences when they get behind the wheel. The same for anonymous or pseudonymed comments and blogs. Some people will use it to let their alter ego out, some will just behave as they would in person. It’s about who you are, not what pledge you sign up to. The pledge and badge will only be adopted by the people who were going to behave anyway, so what’s the point.
    Anil needn’t worry about threats of violence. The normal rules of ‘real’ life do still apply. Threats of violence can still be punished, especially if someone actually comes around in person to carry them out. I would think that few people who make such threats online really take the effort to cover their tracks completely…

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  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    Marty Kaplan on Huff Post agrees with you (and is funny about it as well):

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marty-kaplan/msm-voluntary-code-of-con_b_45336.html

    He wants the MSM to follow a code as well…

  • stonetools

    All this free speech stuff sounds great, but lets put it in context. This was promnpted about folks issuing death threats against certain women bloggers. Is JJ really ok with folks issuing death threats against other folk on his blog?
    Because people do carry these threats out, you know. Lets not be a First Amendment heop at other folks expense

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  • stonetools

    er, that should be first amendment hero…………….

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  • http://www.themeat.org schloss

    Right on. I’d like to think that there would be less animosity about this idea if the Internet-using community was involved throughout this process instead of having this dumped onto us via a blog post. At the least, this is a terrible overreaction in the midst of our fear and uncertainty. At the worst, it’s the first step down a terrible path.

    For the record, I wouldn’t mind a Twinkie ™ badge on my website (yum!), but not Tim’s twinkie badge (bleh)…

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  • http://mikecane.wordpress.com Mike Cane

    Good for you, Jarvis. Even though in a prior thread about a former NY Post columnist my hair stood on end over the nasty comments people posted, I stand with you in opposing this BS Code.

    http://mikecane.wordpress.com/2007/04/09/jarvis-calls-them-twinkie-badges-i-called-them-fucking-stickers/

    http://mikecane.wordpress.com/2007/04/09/fuck-you-and-your-fucking-stickers-you-fucking-fuckheads/

    That might count for much to *you*, but I’m glad to see someone as prominent as you expressing displeasure with it.

  • http://mikecane.wordpress.com Mike Cane

    >>>All this free speech stuff sounds great, but lets put it in context. This was promnpted about folks issuing death threats against certain women bloggers. Is JJ really ok with folks issuing death threats against other folk on his blog?

    And if there had never been any such death threats? Would you still think this Big Nanny Code a good idea?

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  • rick gregory

    Anil,

    Threats of violence are illegal. We don’t need a saccharine code of conduct to prosecute people making threats of death or personal violence. And as Kathy hersefl pointed out on Tim’s post as well as on Scoble’s post about this, this code of conduct would have done NOTHING to prevent what happened to her.

    What I’d like to see is more active prosecution of the people who really do cross the line and make death threats. As for the others… Rudeness doesn’t scare me – attempts to sanitize speech do.

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  • http://www.thoughttheater.com Daniel DiRito

    Where is my Easter Bonnet?

    While some may see the blogosphere and the behavior of its participants as a new phenomenon, it isn’t difficult to find an appropriate predecessor model. That model is found on the streets of any metropolitan area and it is called traffic and the prevalence of road rudeness…or in its extreme…road rage.

    Granted, personal attacks and snark on the internet are not likely to lead to fatalities, but if computers had wheels, it certainly would.

    The problem on the highway or the internet isn’t going to be resolved through a badge system. Did anyone attend Easter mass yesterday and witness the value of symbols…no not the crucifix behind the altar or the statue at the entrance; I’m talking about the pretty new Easter outfits…complete with bonnets and bow ties. These are the outfits worn by the same people who also attend Christmas mass every year without fail…and then get into their shiny clean vehicle and race out of the parking lot without ever yielding to the old woman walking to her car that is parked in the back row because she forgot that it was Easter Sunday and foolishly arrived at the same time she does each and every Sunday.

    Read more on the relationship between blog civility and Easter Bonnets…here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com/2007/04/web_civility_and_easter_bonnets.php

  • http://photodude.com Reid

    For Anil and any others who seem to imply that being against this means you have no problem with death threats in blog comments, look at the history here. Did Kathy Sierra’s incident get a lot of attention? Did it end up on CNN? How would a Code of Conduct have [1] prevented it from happening, or [2] gotten it shut down quicker or found out the culprits any quicker?

    It wouldn’t have. It would have had zero impact. The people who did that to Kathy have no interest in your Code of Conduct, except as something to laugh at.

    This appears to me to be a collective effort by folks who feel really bad about what happened to Kathy, and want to do something to keep it from happening to others.

    An admirable feeling. Unfortunately, not one that is enforceable across millions of web sites in dozens of countries. You’d have an easier time herding cats to Cairo.

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  • http://patchallel.com Tom O’Leary

    Thanks, Jeff, for your well thought out words of warning. Volumes have been written for centuries protesting thought police. Some have even died in order to protect freedom of speech. Remember the Hays Code? Or the Comics Code? Those were both voluntary. Is that where we want to return? Are we so “PC” that we must make sure that no one says anything “bad.” Thank God for those who say something “bad,” because in many cases, bad is good. I like John Gruber’s line: Don’t be an asshole. Thanks God he can say asshole.

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  • http://shripriya.com/blog Shripriya

    While I am not a fan of the Code of Conduct (especially the part that makes me responsible for and liable for all comments), I will say this – each blogger has the right to determine how his/her blog works. If you are getting stalked by someone from a certain IP, if you want to ban them, do so. If you want to moderate comments, so do. If you want so set up rules of conduct for your blog, do so.

    While, I am not at all a fan of one single code of conduct, decided by a few and imposed on many, especially one that dictates what tone I should use and how I can interact with a reader who leaves comments, by the same token, I am not a fan of judging a blogger who choses to moderate comments or one who deletes comments. There is definitely some sort of tacit approval of and admiration for the “macho” blogger who allows every form of abuse on his/her blog. “Hey, I leave ALL abuse on my blog” – woo hoo, great! That’s your decision. Another blogger may decide to moderate. That should be fine too. Each to his/her own.

    Readers can decide which blogs to visit based on how the blogger behaves.

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  • Nick S

    Jeff: although you span the tech and political domains, I think it’s clear that Tim O’Reilly isn’t talking about you, or to you.

    It’s lazy for the NYT to treat all bloggers as part of the same milieu, but it’s also lazy for bloggers who should know better to perpetuate this by accepting the premise of those stories.

    Frankly, I’ve found Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s guidance on maintaining a civil, smart online community to be of permanent value: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006036.html

    But acting haughty about the subject just enables trollish persecutors, unless you’re prepared to address their abuse. Free speech absolutism in this context can be taken as a washing-of-the-hands when it comes to trollery.

    “I am real. You know that. I put my name and face on this blog. People have met me. They will verify my identity. ”

    With respect, you have luxuries in that regard that many bloggers and online participants do not. (Not least, a penis. I find it almost as objectionable that it’s men who are dominating this debate, when they’re less likely to be subject to the worst abuse.)

  • Nick S

    There is definitely some sort of tacit approval of and admiration for the “macho” blogger who allows every form of abuse on his/her blog. “Hey, I leave ALL abuse on my blog” – woo hoo, great! That’s your decision.

    Absolutely. And it’s usually comes from people who don’t need to fear a sociopathic troll turning up at their doorstep or haranguing their employers.

    That macho approach, combined with a misplaced sense of free speech absolutism, just makes it easier for trolls to cry ‘thought police’ when they’re prevented from persecuting people.

  • Raj

    O’Reilly’s intentions were in the right place — just not thought through well enough before hitting the submit button.

    All they are asking for is a little civility and they could have said as much and asked for others to write about the same.

    The badge is just lame.

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  • John Doe

    Did anyone ever expect anything else from the internet? I’ve received death threats (with much more specific information then the case that all started this), extortion attempts, and been libeled in my 10 or so years on the internet, so I have a resonable understanding of what it feels like to be a target. I don’t think threatening the ability to make anonymous posts and setting up big brother-esque rules is the way to solve the problem. The fact of the matter is any prominent member of any community (even a small community) will always, always be a target. I hope we don’t decide to throw out the unique things about the internet in a rush to avoid this problem. For anything that really, truely is a threat, the legal system is around. But people need to stop promoting this absurd vigilante justice system for something as insignificant as a trolls.

  • SKA

    Hey Mike Cane.

    Long time no see.

    so, you think the world can survive another SKA, like in PIC?
    (I bet you are screaming want that politeness rule installed pronto, with badges)

    but never fear. I like taunting the entire planet and see what falls out of it.

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  • Jake

    You are SO right!

    I agree with you. The web is a place… and it should stay as a place thats much like the Wild West, you play nice then (most likely) your neighbors (readers…) will be nice.

    And if someone doesnt you can simply delete their comments. And also, I suggest that each one of us uses the oppostunity not to give out all of our personal info so that we may be threatened to death.

    All of the above is my opinion, this blog is your so if it is inferior you obviously have the ultimate right to delete this… no problem with me.
    And that’s how I want my web to be.

  • Brian H

    Boiled down – the Code is unenforceable, except at the expense of almost everything that makes blogging work. Policing comments in any detail on a blog is so labour-intensive that it is rapidly abandoned by all those who attempt it. Even paid/recompensed monitors are rarely enough, and tend to spin off flame wars and disputes by perceived arbitrary decisions (which derails the discussions anyway).

    But I have the solution. AI gateways on Comments sections which use everything from IP to sig to syntax pattern recognition to block the trolls and a-holes! Tireless, indefatigable, and always heuristically refining themselves, they will guarantee civility all round. :)

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  • Simon Day

    Why does this make me think of that geek code nonsense that was popular in usenet sigs?

    (http://www.geekcode.com/geek.html for those that missed that period)

    Perhaps a more sensible idea – or rather a much sillier idea, but one that knows it is silly, pointless and laughs at the world idea would be to see such “Blog Codes” appended to the bottom of posts ;)

    I’m sure icons/gifs/images would replace the ascii these days…

    Perhaps I should shut up before someone takes this idea seriously – I’d dread to see this getting discussed as a standard somewhere!

  • http://shripriya.com/blog Shripriya

    When I said “… woo hoo, great! That’s your decision.”, I didn’t mean “you” as in you, Jeff :). I meant “That’s a decision the person/blogger is entitled to make.” Just to be clear!

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  • Henning Møller Just

    I’m very impressed by both Tim O’Reilly and Kathy Sierra, having read much of what they have written and heard them speak.

    In this case, I have to agree with you, Jarvis, though. And with your next post :)

  • Ernest Adams

    Anonymous posters are gutless wimps.

    Anyone who permits them is encouraging cowardice and trolldom.

    Free speech does not exist on the Internet. My blog, my rules. Live with it.

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  • Anonymous and proud

    Yeah, fuck all of ‘em bro–if I want to tell someone they’re a douche bag anonymously… I should be able to. That’s what actually makes the internet better than real life. In real life if some snarky wannabe micro-celebrity is delivering one of their endless diatribes… everyone just nods and waits for it to end. Then we he leaves, they all talk amongst themselves about what an asshole the guy is. While he’s riding home, he’s calling his girlfriend to tell her what a visionary he is, and how everyone reveres him. On the internet, we knock that schmuck off his pedestal right in front of his girlfriend, his mother, and all of his fanboys. I say Tim O’Reilly can bite me, and so can the New York Times.

  • http://www.owenkelly.net Owen Kelly

    Voluntary codes have a way of becoming informal requirements. If a majority of bloggers embrace this idiotic code then the minority will be deemed to have branded themselves as anti-social.

    “I would like the jury to consider why the defendant – who claims he has nothing to hide and no deceitful motives – nonetheless went ahead and published without making any attempt to do what all decent folks would do and do with pride – label the blog as one were civility is enforced.”

    And of historic interest: Frederick Wertham noted in A Sign for Cain (1966) “Within a few years after the publication of Seduction of the Innocent, [and the resulting establishment of the Comics Code Authority with its "voluntary" stamp of approval] twenty-four out of twenty-nine crime-comic- book publishers went out of business”.

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  • http://cork2toronto.blogspot.com Mark Dowling

    You’d think after the web2.0(tm) fiasco Tim O’Reilly would stop trying to tell people what is “approved” on the internet. Apparently not.

  • http://dutchcelt.nl/ Egor Kloos

    Free speech in an absolute sense don’t exist. It never has. We know on a personal and a more abstract and legal level that we can’t say or do whatever we want. But a pledge?
    And as one commenter on O’Reilly’s blog noted, they created badges. They actually created badges. I also just can’t believe they created badges.

    One problem, other than the ‘cowboys and indians’ style badges, I have with this pledge is that is a very American thing to create. I’d be hard pressed to find such a political tactic used in a country other than the United States. Many bloggers and online venter’s won’t care about such a pledge as it is a very ineffectual tactic to get people to grow up. In fact, some try very hard not to grow up, such is a comedians life.
    Furthermore the “A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs” headline is purely sensationalist and is itself pretty rude. I wonder who in the English speaking world the headline is referring to. What does this American sales man O’Reilly hope to achieve? Other than exposure. It must be a slow news day.

  • stonetools

    I expect that some version of the code will be informally adopted by the major bloggers, even as they vociferously deny enforcing it. As more & more women join the internet conversation, they are going to want to join the more civil discussions. They arent going to stay in places where some anonymous jerkoff is going to reply to their comments by yelling ” Well f@#$ off, you fat ugly cunt!”
    Even JJ admits-way deep into this diatribe-that he deletes comments that go over the line, so he himself has a code. I would bet that it is similar in mamy ways to Orielly’s code, truth be told.

  • http://www.cmpatrick.com Craig Patrick

    Agreed. This will lead, inevitably to the “sanitizing of ugly truths.” Regardless of the language we wrap around our intentions, the internet should remain a forum for open, honest debate (discourse included) and everyone should have THE OPPORTUNITY to share that voice, however tarnished it may be. Make it open, keep it open, keep it neutral.

    I guess that labels me as something of an idealist, but this whole approach seems very similar to current airport security practices – the illusion of safety. It’s almost Orwellian; but instead of government imposed law, it’s self imposed.

    Mr. O’Reilly: I hope this works out for you, but it’s not for me. Thanks, but no thanks.

  • http://pauldwaite.co.uk/ pauldwaite

    If “the code” is opt-in, I think it’s pretty harmless. I also think no-one will be talking about this in a year: as already mentioned, it doesn’t seem likely that any part of “the code” will stop anyone being a troll.

    > Why should this new world work any differently? Why should it operate with more controls and more controllers?

    That’s my question too. I was trying to think of an example where something like this has worked before. Surely, like everything else, your market – which, with blogs, is I guess your readership – determines everything?

  • Harry

    You have to keep in mind that Tim O’Reilly is a long-time resident of the SF Bay Area. It’s no surprise that he’s big on empty symbolic gestures that accomplish nothing other than letting you feel good about yourself.

  • http://www.fullposter.com/allblogs.php Alberto

    Maybe I have an entirely personal perspective about this, but I find that the issue stands on neither of the mentioned sides.
    Forgive my english, not a native speaker ok?

    On the one hand, I would have nothing against accepting comments only from users that registered to the blog so to have a valid email address about them. While it is true I can get some yahoo account “in 60 seconds”, it is also true that such registration does not import anonymity in the least: my IP address is stored when I open an email account. It is true that IPs can be forged, but you still leave some traceable route then: somebody, from that Ip, at that time, was on that very specific machine.

    Perhaps a more viable way would be to print out the IP address of every poster, or to store it in a database (if one has privacy concerns). Blogs should provide the option. Even if the IP is forged, it still establishes a track that over time may build up enough evidence to find out the culprit – the whole issue in fact emerged from _continuous_ threats of violence upon somebody.
    I would favor this (storing IPs) rather than storing “valid” email addresses.

    But on the whole, the point is that if we have a draft a code, there is no code of conduct that can impart intelligence by law.

    “Employ comment rating systems that would allow users to vote down of nasty comments” – now there ought to be a code of conduct against such practices: by exposing the hypothetical culprit to the public blame we are delivering this lesson: whoever pays lip service to a blog owner, is worthier than anyone else, and if enough flies all fly to say that you’re wrong, well so many flies can’t be all wrong.
    We are teaching our bloggers that the truth stands where the NUMBER is.

    The REAL code of conduct we ought to implement is that which will re-educate our users to appreciate contents and ORIGINALITY in the first place. We live in an internetsphere where sites copy each other, and the successful mistake of guy A soon becomes a standard, contaminating all the computers like a virus, because guys from B to Z COPIED it assuming that, if it was successful, it had to be copied in its totality to replicate the success. We have firms that claim to be “leaders in innovation” whose main concern is that of avoiding whatever innovation.
    And thus, our internet audiences get used to things like page margins 300px wide as sensible offers, and to text 8px “big” as good practice, to name a few.

    If we are so much concerned about internet standards and the blog sphere, we could start working in its interests starting with the many other wrong paradigms that our audiences have been MISeducated to respect. This appears much more sensible than planning to keep crime out of the internet: because if we fail at the former, how can we hope to be successful at the latter?

  • http://none Garpin

    As long as there is free will, there will be willful people expressing themselves freely. That ridiculous thing being said, the idea of a code of conduct for bloggers is already enforced by most moderators, to imply that it would be possible to control such a thing on a global basis is only weak minded politically correct, thought police bullsh*t thinking.

    It’s not possible, and even if it were, it would suck.

  • http://weebitsbuzz.blogspot.com/ just me

    Blogs are hard work. I can see now what will happen down the road. A blogger spends most of the day on a good story, with good content…

    But he/she will be blocked from posting it because it doesn’t meet all of the code of conduct for bloggers.

    We have enough laws stepping on our toes. We have enough people doing their best to censor us. Blogging was created so users could voice their opinions without fear of someone slapping them on the head, and telling them “you can’t post that!.” Blogging is journalism in it’s true form.

    You are living in an age where blogging is the “in thing to do.” If you put restrictions on bloggers, you will kill the blogging industry. Watch what you are doing very closely when you try to make the Blogging code of conduct real. Then sit back and watch the multitude of Bloggers kick you in the rear, and ignore your petty wanna be code of conduct. You wont get anywhere with this. If you think you will, then you are bent up with a lot of wishful thinking. Bloggers rule! Not a small majority of jerks who think they own the blogging mainstream. You don’t own a damn thing online, except your own content. Crawl back into your hole, and leave the Blogging world alone.

  • Nick S

    Blogging was created so users could voice their opinions without fear of someone slapping them on the head, and telling them “you can’t post that!.”

    And if someone thinks that repeatedly abusing you, or harrassing you and your employer, is a valid form of expression?

    I’m not particularly impressed by the idea site badges. As Teresa Nielsen Hayden has noted, creating a civil community is a job for people, and what’s needed is a conversation about how to moderate one’s site without feeling intimidated. But I have absolutely no time for people who crap over other people’s websites — and lives — under the auspices of free expression, because that demeans the principle. ‘My gaff, my rules.’

  • http://lizditz.typepad.com Liz Ditz

    My own stand on anonymity, stated frequently in this space, is that I will not give full respect and credence to things said by people who do not have the balls to stand behind their words. When people complain that I’m trying to get rid of the anonymous nature of the web, I say no, I wouldn’t do that. I’m simply telling you the way I judge your words when you’re too chicken to put your name on them.

    Jeff, you seem here to be making the claim that anonymity is always motivated by cowardice. I don’t agree. It has many uses and motivations.

    My blog is eclectic. I have one series on therapeutic boarding schools (the “troubled teen” industry) that has attracted commenters who were former inmates of such programs. Some commenters are anonymous — and I don’t think it is a case of “chicken”. They’re writing about painful personal experiences that they aren’t ready to share publicly, or perhaps they are adults and have put that part of their lives behind them publicly, but want to acknowledge the pain privately.

    I elected to start blogging with my real name. Sometimes I regret that, as I’d like to write about things that happen in my family. I won’t do that, though, because I’d be writing not only about myself, but about family members. Here’s the privacy bit from my blogging principles:

    Privacy: Does It Belong To Me, and Me Alone?

    I will try to respect the privacy of others. I won’t write about the private lives and issues of those around me, no matter how I hear about them. (This is a lesson I learned the hard way, and yes I have failed this test in the past.) CAVEAT: If someone has published information about herself in her own blog, I will feel free to blog about that information. I won’t reveal email addresses.

    In my blog, I use pseudonyms for my children, for example. Is that an example of cowardice, or protecting the privacy of my children?

    I have, and will continue, to post anonymous comments to others’ blogs, almost always over issues that would compromise my family’s privacy. Does that make me a coward?

    Likewise, I have several blog-friends who write honestly and in some detail about their family lives –using pseudonyms for themselves, their spouses, and their children. Is this cowardice, or prudence and protecting the privacy of their children?

  • Pro Coder

    Juan Antonio Giner: “the best law is no law.” Period.

    Fine.

    Murder away.

    That is anarchy in its *purest* form.

    Kill or be killed.

    Survival of the fittest.

    However, if ALL clear-minded people *TRULY* lived up to:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethic_of_reciprocity

    There would be ABSOLUTELY NO NEED for ‘man-made laws’ AT ALL!….

    No more ‘workplace rampages’!

    No more ‘schoolyard shootings’!

    No more firebombed places of worship!

    No more homeless/unemployed, clear-minded people!

    To name a few positive results…

    Then mass media news can then stop constantly harping through all their outlets the sordid consequences of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ in all its violent forms — chiefly violent crimes, warfare, and terrorism….

    PUT AN END TO “IF IT BLEEDS, IT LEADS”!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15_Minutes

    Sorry, Mr. Gekko, greed IS NOT GOOD!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Gekko

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  • http://john-sky.net johnlocke

    Great honk! trance words like civility, be nice, &cetera are always codes for do as I say and not as I do (another trance phrase to be sure). I haven’t joined the anarchist club either. So what – peopke can write and say whatever they want, whenever they want, anywhere they want. As someone once said: “I never shrink when defiled, nor expand when extoled.”

    or “do what thou wilt shall be the whole law.” (Robert Anton Wilson)

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  • http://niadarkandlovely.blogspot.com Nia

    Jeff,

    I agree with you. The definition of unacceptable behaviour is debatable, and I am not sure how this would be carried forward.

    Interesting how someone can tell you what should and should not be posted on your blog.

    The death threats are out of line, and I found it disturbing.

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  • http://mikecane.wordpress.com/ Mike Cane

    SKA: It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten what your PIC “crimes” were. Time does those things.

    Someone mentioned getting death threats and other things while being on the net for 10 years. I’ve been online for *27* years now. It’s never happened to me. And I think SKA will be the first to admit I’ve bludgeoned people with words when I thought their opinions were just damned stupid.

    I have a blog but don’t allow Comments. I just don’t have the time to do a blog *and* build any sort of community (as, say, a writer such as John Scalzi has — see his blog, called Whatever). People can email me, though, and so far I’ve not gotten any vitriol. Perhaps that speed bump makes people give up? I doubt it; someone determined to be a bastard won’t be stopped by a little extra effort.

    Let’s all remember that all this came up because some certain self-proclaimed “A-list” people acted like total assholes and crossed the line into *illegal activity*. By and large, the net can be an uncivil place at times, but I’ve never been the target of something as clearly *illegal* as what Kathy Sierra suffered.

  • Grandstand

    Maybe Tim O’Reilly is grandstanding because there’s an audience for this stuff right now. It really doesn’t detract from his message. Just because a group of civil-minded individuals decides to do the right thing doesn’t mean it’s turning our backs on terrorism. The majority of the world decides to do the right thing on a daily basis and a very few decide to plot terror. Because there are no authorities (on the internet) or because the authorities do a poor job (in the real world) doesn’t mean that the rest of us decide to stop being civil.

  • http://mikecane.wordpress.com/ Mike Cane

    Oh look at this.

    John Scalzi himself chimes in about this on his blog:
    http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/005024.html

  • http://deleted Tansley

    To the above comments, you may add my own personal assessment that Mr. O’Reilly is, at his core, a coward…

    I posted my own comment at his blog, which he did not allow to be actually shown (my comment.)

    Blogging and its future potential in our society…indeed, in the world at large, is huge. TOO huge for any one person to make any kind of set limitation, too large to pigeon-hole, and far too significant to underestimate.

    That said, here was the gist of my comment on HIS blog:

    ***************

    “This is no different from the Catholic Church trying to lay down its own rules for everything from what day to eat what kind of food, to what the ‘ultimate purpose’ of sex is, to what the correct model of the universe should be.

    No one can attempt to impose an arbitrary set of rules on something so huge that its potential ramifications both now and in the future remain incalulable to finite minds.

    I am reminded of the story of Saint Augustine, walking along the shore of the ocean, contemplating the nature of the Creator. He came across a small child, who was ladeling the water of the ocean with a spoon into a small hole he (the child) had dug in the sand. (The child was actually an angel.) St. Augustine studied this a few moments, then opined: “How can you hope to get all the contents of the sea into that little hole?” The child/angel looked up at him, smiled and replied “It is far easier for me to get all the sea into this hole, than it is for you to get all the concept of the creator into your little mind.”

    Perhaps you should stick to writing about things you actually understand, Mr. O’Reilly, like PHP…

    *********************

    Now, maybe I’m being overly-critical, but isn’t this ‘code of conduct’ not terribly unlike some little pope in the middle ages trying to tell everyone that the EARTH should be considered the center of the universe…? “These rules should define the conduct of all bloggers henceforce, and let their blog sites bear this STAMP, executed by his holiness, in this year of our Lord…”

    Also, we differ on anonymity, Jeff…
    Observe: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/6385849.stm

    Not to mention Josh Wolf…

    Using one’s true name in a free and open society, so long as one publishes the truth, or one’s perceptions in an honest and forthright manner, should guarantee freedom from persecution. But it DOESN’T, does it? Egypt is hardly a democracy…and neither is America.

    We brag of our ‘democracy,’ but America remains a Plutocratic Oligarchy, where the laws are determined by the highest bidders in the lobbies of congress. People who speak out against the war in Iraq are typically labeled ‘weak,’ ‘defeatist,’ and all too often, ‘traitors.’

    Nevermind the irony that WE, America, helped to make Saddam into what he was. Or that we backed Pinochet. Or that we tried to overthrow the government in Nicaragua. Or that we backed the Contras against the Sandanistas.

    We thought we could ‘control’ Saddam. What a laugh. Dubya was simply in there ‘cleaning up Daddy’s mess’…which was actually Colin Powell’s mess, since he stopped the invasion of Baghdad during the Gulf War. At least Powell had the remaining integrity to bail on his former boss before he lost all credibility himself…

    People have to rely on anonymity when there is a potential risk to their families and loved ones, and that includes their own personal freedom, particularly when they are the breadwinners of their families…or do you think that the founding fathers made no secret of their machinations from the eyes of the agents of King George? Do you suppose that MI-5 published a list of its operatives to be available to the SS?

    Political opinion, in this country, has become an ideological war, Jeff. And it’s not getting any better. What happens if the NSA gets an edict to keep records of your blog?…and uses the names here to build a list of ‘undesirables?’

    It can’t happen here….right…?

  • Nick S

    So what – peopke can write and say whatever they want, whenever they want, anywhere they want.

    In which case, you won’t mind if I come over to your house and start shouting obscenities while you eat your dinner. No?

    Gotta say, the free-speech absolutists (normally of the glibertarian persuasion) make a rod for their own backs here. And I hope you’re a namesake, rather than invoking the 17th-century John Locke. Because that don’t wash.

    Let’s skip the Golden Rule and ‘trance words’ and say: have some basic respect, and if that’s causes you ideological grief, go elsewhere.

  • http://appropedia.org/User:Chriswaterguy Chriswaterguy

    The Wikia page you quote, the “Blogger’s Code of Conduct,” which is on the Blogging Wikia:

    * has never been edited by Jimmy Wales, and as far as I could tell at a glance the ideas are not directly connected with Jimmy nor any of the Wikia staff.
    * declares itself as “a starting point for discussion,” which I think is appropriately humble.

    I agree the wording is unfortunate. While the opening is fair (“frankness does not have to mean lack of civility”) it’s ambiguous to say “One can disagree without being disagreeable.” Some of the other ideas seem more problematic, but I’m not going to get drawn into that vortex…

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  • http://nobloggerscode.pbwiki.com Matt

    Hi,

    I have taken the LIBERTY to create a wiki for those who oppose
    draconian measures on the internet. Please help to build this up if
    you feel that this is important!

    site: http://nobloggerscode.pbwiki.com
    password: “knowfascism”

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  • http://www.markgroen.com/blogx/ Mark

    I don’t need no steenking badges!

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  • http://deleted Tansley – addendum

    Well, my post DID appear at O’Reilly’s blog…finally. Obviously a built-in machine-delay. My bad.

    Regardless of which, I think he should still stick to things his mind is actually capable of grasping…

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  • http://mikecane.wordpress.com/ Mike Cane

    >>>In which case, you won’t mind if I come over to your house and start shouting obscenities while you eat your dinner. No?

    Oh stop with the bombastic hyperbole. How can you compare an *in-person* *invasion* with electrons forming words on a screen?

    If you did that to me — came to my house in the crazy-man fashion you describe — I’d Delete you.

    And in certain states (unfortunately not mine: NY), no jury would convict me.

    O’Reilly, it’s time to STFU:
    As They Used To Say: Who Died And Left You Boss?
    http://mikecane.wordpress.com/2007/04/11/as-they-used-to-say-who-died-and-left-you-boss/

  • http://mikecane.wordpress.com/ Mike Cane

    >>>What happens if the NSA gets an edict to keep records of your blog?…and uses the names here to build a list of ‘undesirables?’

    Look, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s already taking place.

    But guess what? There are many other ways They Can Get You too. If they want you, they’ll have you, period.

    Extraordinary Rendition, remember? I doubt any of those targets were bloggers.

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  • Dave Hackett

    And you didn’t even get to the part about calling the cops. This code would have bloggers privately demand retractions from “offensive” commenters (sort of gaming the system from behind the scenes) and threaten police intervention as a hammer against the defiant. This code throws friendly fire not just at Section 230 but the 1st Amendment.

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  • http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2007/04/08/bloggercom-refuses-to-take-down-pornographic-defaming-site/ Richard Silverstein

    I guess I was a bad boy since I cooperated with Brad Stone’s NYT piece & interviewed with him about my own blog experience with stalking/harassment (see attached link).

    I share a certain level of doubt that the code of conduct can work. But what I don’t share w. you is yr belief that things will just somehow sort themselves out in the blogosphere. Some of us, like Kathy Sierra, have to deal with real crazy people who try to make our lives a living hell. Just because they don’t like our politics or our take on free speech or whatever.

    Here’s my situation: I write a blog about Israeli Palestinian peace. I’m a dove. Pro-Israel hawks don’t like doves. They hate them. They wish cancer on them in blog comment threads (yes, they did that to me). They also, in my case, create fake blogs impersonating doves & referring to sex acts they perform on themselves. They violate copyright multiple times in this fake blog including the victim’s (that would be me) copyright.

    What does Blogger say about this fake blog they host? They have no responsibility for defaming material hosted on their server. Sure, they’ve taken down the two images of me since I own them. But the site remains intact.

    What about a blog platform code of conduct. What about asking Blogger, Typepad or whatever platforms host their own sites to enforce their own terms of service in these cases. Why have TOS if you only intend to enforce them when you (the company) want to but never when an injured party wants you to?

    So I have a problem with this passage fr. yr post:

    Are there rules and laws? Yes, the same ones that exist in worlds physical or virtual: If I libel or defame you on the streetcorner or in a paper or on a screen, the recourse is the same. But I don’t put up another badge on my fence saying I won’t libel you. I just don’t. That’s how the world works

    What is my recourse? Sue the bastards? With what bank account? Who’ll get me that pro bono attorney so I can make life miserable for Blogger till they see reason & pursue the blog slut who’s defaming me?

    I’ve done a good deal of press to let the world know about this in the Times and the local Seattle daily. It’s all a poor boy can do to keep the heat on. But I don’t think the recourse you claim is realistically available to many of us bloggers.

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  • http://blonde2dot0.blogspot.com/ Blonde 2.0

    Jeff:
    Great post.
    I find this whole story to be disturbing and pretentious. The whole idea of blogging is based on the notion that I as a blogger have the freedom to write my opinion, no matter what it should be, and that people have the right to react to my opinions. Isn’t that what freedom of speech is all about? The minute we start regulating blogging behavior and adding rules and censorship to the blogosphere, we lose its most precious element of freedom.
    You can check out my post on it:
    http://blonde2dot0.blogspot.com/2007/04/bloggers-inquisition.html

  • http://mikecane.wordpress.com/ Mike Cane

    Richard Silverstein:

    You’re in a tough spot. You have my sympathies. I don’t know the answer. But these effin stickers aren’t it.

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  • John Lutz

    They were / are “NAPPY_HEADED_HOES”~John

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  • http://www,newsandseduction.blogspot.com kc bhatt

    given the chance I want all the rights without any responsibility.

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  • John Witte

    you sir are a rather pompous jackass, equating, as you do, ” not taking it from airline clerks when your flight (heaven forbid) is canceled” with your rather fatuous rant regarding T. O’Reilly’s rather modest proposaal regarding blg etiquette. UGH!

    John Witte
    Portland, OR

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  • http://bestbadges.co.uk Andy Badge Fan

    My mum always said, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all”, but that would be a dull way to run a blog!

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