Blogging Code of Conduct, Redux

9 Apr ’07

More talk in the ‘sphere today about this idea (my earlier comments here), and some MSM coverage. I think Tony Hung has the right idea (though at its heart the difference is mostly semantic), but I still don’t think the ‘sphere at large sees the bigger picture. Here’s a comment I left chez Tony.

At its heart this issue is about the responsibility we all bear for the communities we create – whether with social media tools, web 1.0 tools – or anything else. If you’re creating a community, at some point you have to ask yourself – what kind of a legacy do you want to leave behind? Do you want to provide a voice for the worst of us? Is that going to be your contribution? Or do you instead choose to accept your responsibility for unleashing it on the members of your community, and the world at large? Are you the kind of person who takes responsibility for your actions and makes constructive things happen? Or do you prefer to step back, let the community develop as it will, and take shelter behind notions like “freedom of speech” or “natural development of the community”? (My guess is that almost all of us would not allow these whack-jobs to come to our homes and scream at our guests – for the life of me I can’t understand why anyone would characterize this issue as one of freedom of speech just because it happens on the Web.)

Finally, if you’re a one X and one Y chromosome type of person, you have to ask yourself – are you as aware as you could be of the impact that sexualized vitriol has on your 2X chromosome friends? (Hint: if you spend a lot of time watching slasher movies or playing first-person shooters, chances are you aren’t). If not, stop indulging yourself in the fantasy that you have all of the context you need in understanding this issue – your standards for community are probably not aligned with what would welcome a good chunk of the population.

There is simply no good reason why the evolving culture of the Web should be a welcoming environment for the kind of cruelty we’ve seen in the Sierra case. And the answer to this problem is the personal responsibility we all bear for the communities we create.

Oh, and whatever one thinks of whether or not Tim O’Reilly has the right idea – he’s actually doing something, and not just sitting on his keester criticizing others, like the rest of us. Which is pretty darned impressive, as far as I’m concerned, whether or not you agree with the approach. That he’s wiki-fying the code is a great idea; this issue is beginning to feel like a Techmeme pile-on and it’s the right time to focus the effort on actual productivity rather than a lot of chatter. Scoble’s a bit worried about O’Reilly using his name to pressure folks to go along. I don’t really see it that way, but then again the chances of either of us ever having anything to do with the other are tending pretty close to zero. This strikes me as a case of damned if does and damned if he doesn’t, actually. And it’s (much) better if he does.

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