Tim O’Reilly has called for a code of conduct for bloggers, and created a draft document.
I’m surprised it does not include more things we might expect of, say, a code of ethics for journalists. For an example, see Cyberjournalist’s code of ethics, based upon the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. In my own experiments at cooking up this sort of thing, I’ve wrestled with such problems as:
- linking to material breaking copyright
- attribution of quoted material
- cookie tracking
- image alteration.
Esoteric stuff, I know. Which leads me to ask, is this sort of project just to promote civility, or is it intended to be more like a Code of Ethics suited to professionals? Should a Code establish clear guidelines about moral and legal obligations? (Regarding the latter, see the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Legal Guide for Bloggers, which deserves adaptation for non-US jurisdictions). As drafted, O’Reilly’s code seems to be more a set of rules of etiquette intended to govern online forums, with the following clause being an important exception.
We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that:
– is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
– is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
– infringes upon a copyright or trademark
– violates an obligation of confidentiality
– violates the privacy of others
My recommendation is that any such code could be best given traction if Google, Digg, Technorati and other indexing websites assigned higher rankings to content authored by someone implementing an endorsed Code of Conduct. If Blogger, WordPress and other blog hosts integrated this into their platforms, so much the better.
Follow-up: The New York Times is reporting on this.