Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Codes of Conduct.

Earlier today, I visited a few blogs and observed the tempest that had arisen out of Tim O'Reilly's attempt to formulate a blogging code of conduct.

The task he set himself was Herculean in concept, if only because of the wide scope of definitions that people use to describe blogging. It also turned out to be somewhat of a poisoned chalice. You can analyse his efforts here.

While I appreciate the amount of work he must have put into finding the appropriate wording, I find myself disagreeing with him on various points. My primary objection is the right to anonymity. I can understand in the light of people in similar situations as that of Kathy Sierra, that there is a need to protect authors from vile anonymous attacks... but that does not help someone such as me.

The reason this place is called Nick's Sanctuary and not Nick's Coffee Bar, is so that you - the general public have a forum to voice your opinion on the things I talk about, free from reprisal.

Some of the things I talk about here are deeply personal... and as far as I am concerned, if you are in my territory, on my turf... if what you are saying carries strong emotions that upset you; then I personally feel you have the right to withhold your identity. I'm not Roman Catholic and this isn't exactly a confessional booth, but what is said between you and I here, in my mind carries with it a sacred bond.

I know the risks and I willingly choose to leave myself open nonetheless. That's why I don't require you to enter characters to prove you are human, or require you to belong to Blogger... because if there was even a slight spark in your heart that prompted you to write something, I want you to say it, I want to hear it. Therefore I deliberately minimize the obstacles to you recording your thoughts, despite it offering less security to me.

My other real issue is the matter of trolls... and how you deal with them. Unlike Mr O'Reilly, I do believe in taking on a troll... in the right circumstances. I will ignore and delete repeated profanity that is just a character assault against me... but if the "troll" raises a valid point in the midst of their ravings, I will address that point. It has happened before. In the early days of my blog when it was still on MSN Spaces, I noticed a person being absolutely vile to a 14 year old Christian girl... so I promptly told them to pick on someone with bigger shoulders - namely me. I took the brunt of what this person threw at me. I deleted their posts when they were just swearing and being perverse about my faith... however they let slip a view on one matter of faith once... and I addressed it cordially. From that day on, the trolling stopped. I don't dare imagine they changed as a person... and I can only hope that they did... but they listened. They learned to show respect, not because I traded worthy punches with them but because I turned the other cheek and treated them with seriousness and conviction despite themselves.

Back in 2005 I did come up with a brief set of ideas for my own personal code. I think it may be time for me to restate that in a new way for myself. So I can stand shoulder to shoulder amidst other peoples codes and say "This is who I am and what I do."

Regards and blessings



  1. Anonymous12:55 pm

    Hi Nick - I read that report yesterday with some interest. It raises some perfectly valid questions.. though considering the size of the blogging community and the reality that it's sprawled out to all corners of the globe, any kind of legislation could prove unworkable - driving sleazy bloggers underground.

    As for "self regulation" I can't help but imagine only the decent writers out there would choose to take part.. maybe. I hope I'm wrong.

    - my 2p :)

  2. Hi Benny, thanks for the comment.

    I was thinking about this a lot yesterday. I think some of the people who are backing the code are "futurists". They are looking into the future and seeing what will happen if we don't find a way to regulate ourselves.

    The fear is of course, that if bloggers on't find a way of keeping themselves in check, some government, political group or legal body will find a way to happily step in and do it for us. "Bye bye freedom of speech".

    Of course the other theory... by the skeptics, is that by attaining this badge through subscription, may become like an "award". A bit like the Michelin star, Egon Ronay, Investors in People or even the British Kite Mark. Essentially, their fear is that it will lead to an elite society of blogs... and to be honest, some of the more powerful blogs in existence... do already have that kind of leaning.... they do carry with them a self righteous superior attitude.

    Who'd have thought the class war would have an online namesake?

  3. I have nominated you for the Thinking Blogger award - see my latest posting

    Thinking Blogger Award!

  4. Anonymous6:40 pm

    Hi Nick, just popping in to say that, once again, taking the time to read your blog is always a blessing to me. Keep sharing your life; you never know who benefits from your real and personal posts.

    You are a true world-changer sir.

  5. Nick, I think your approach is one that needs to be adopted more frequently. It's all too easy to be threatened and I hold my hand up as one of those who can be just such a one so this post is a challenge to me. Thank goodness for your levelheaded view of people. Perhaps you will challenge more of us to feel less threatened in our faith and be far more bold in our approach.


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