Blog ethics

Blog ethics

: My sneaky friend Nick Denton nominated me to join Jason Calicanis in setting up a Blog Ethics Committee. I had to let this sink in. Here’s my response:

We don’t need a committee. We don’t need an authority figure or moral guidepost.

This is a distributed world, a world owned by the whole. We are ruled by the wisdom of the crowd.

The most I might go for would be a blog ethics wiki, in which all bloggers get the chance to contribute their collective wisdom and conscience to a debate over what’s right.

Besides, the rules of ethics in publishing are really quite simple. As they relate to advertising, I’d start here:

1. No one can buy your editorial voice or space.

2. Anything that is bought should be clearly identified so the audience would not be confused about its source.

3. Be transparent about any relationships you have that could affect what you say and about anything you receive related to what you say.

4. Be open. Be honest.

That pretty much covers the waterfront. If you get more specific than that, your knickers get knotted over every new kind of ad or freebie. It’s really quite simple; it’s common sense. Your credibility is your only asset; if you sell or or screw it up, you don’t get it back.

On other fronts:

We can debate until the elephants and donkeys come home about disclosing your own political prespective and bias. That’s up to you. ‘

You need to follow the law — whether you like the law or not — regarding copyright and trademark and if you don’t, that’s your risk.

You can set your own rules about answering and quoting email and tolerating commenters, anonymous or otherwise.

There, I just saved myself a committee meeting.