Blogger Rules Dismissed, Cuz We Say So

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People are busy. Email piles up. Probably why some of the prominent bloggers I solicited for a response to a British proposal that somebody regulate these free-wheeling, free-speaking modern yarn-weavers were too late for an earlier article. Shows what a swell, free market of ideas guy I am – and how nicely updatable Internet content is. Here’s a follow-up with those responses from people you know.

In case you missed it, Scott Johnson, Andy Beal, Robert Scoble, and Philipp Lenssen all agreed that a voluntary code of practice for bloggers, and a government-run but consumer-enforced agency to make sure they volunteer for the code, was a bad idea.

A really bad idea. The word “poppycock” comes to mind, though in Kentucky we like phrases like “horse-feathers!” and “fiddle-sticks!”

The late arrivals to my inbox were SEObook‘s Aaron Wall, Rocketboom‘s Andrew Baron, and none other than everybody’s favorite topless podcaster, Soccergirl.

Here, simply, is what they had to say:

Soccergirl — I think a blogger code of conduct would be the kiss of death for free speech. The whole f***ing point of all of this is to give individuals a forum for expressing their ideas, WHATEVER those ideas might be. The minute we start regulating what people can post, the freedom of the medium is compromised. No one is forced to read this stuff. It’s not getting broadcast on television or the radio. If people are concerned about being exposed to offensive content, they are perfectly capable of avoiding it on their own. We live in the real world, not a padded room.

Quit tiptoeing, Soccergirl. Tell us how you really feel. Baron was skeptical too, and diplomatic, as he’s known to be.

Baron — I could imagine a certain standard set of practices that bloggers employ – if they want to – to help guide them through issues of journalistic integrity, but I think most of blogging is not true journalism, but more simply subjective storytelling.

I think even the journalist bloggers may gain more integrity by being good storytellers and building up a trust that happens over time.

Obviously any non-voluntary regulations could be disastrous.

While Baron can imagine it, Wall likes it just the way it is and wonders who watches the watchdogs.

Wall — I think the web works well because there are few centralized governing bodies, especially when it comes to things like ethics and publishing. I think that if the authorities on blogging ethics became successful even some of the people who came up with or enforced the guidelines would end up being hypocritical.

Let me interject here at the end, because you know, I’m not typically one to voice my own opinions. (If you buy that, I’ve got some more stuff for sale.)

The blogosphere is the nearest rebirth society has seen of the oral tradition, where stories are handed down to others, continually modified and corrected and reconnected as needed. Speech regulators, a long, long time ago, squashed that tradition for various reasons, but their main one was, there was no real control of it, no way to settle once and for all how the story goes.

Hence the invention of writing things down on paper – once applied in permanent ink and made official by the appropriate bodies, there was now an unchangeable tale, and a means for redress for socially unacceptable ideas.

Redress. That is the word Tim the Toolman used, wasn’t it? As if it’s dressed wrong in the first place.


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