Bloggers Say ‘No’ To Proposed Code Of Conduct

    December 1, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

It can be debated that bloggers already have their own unwritten laws, a code of conduct to which the prominent bloggers are to adhere. In Britain, the same governmental bodies that regulate the press, want to extend that code of practice to bloggers due to lack of professional standards. Some well-known bloggers have answered that proposal with a resounding “poppycock!”

The BBC relays the words of Tim Toulmin (unrelated to Tim the Toolman Taylor), of the Press Complaints Commission, an organization that enforces standards of accuracy, discrimination, and intrusion within the journalism industry.

Toulmin said, “there are no professional standards, no means of redress. If you want to see how the newspaper industry would look like if it was unchecked, then look at the internet.”

Toulmin thinks the code should be voluntary, rather than legislated, and enforced by readers. Worldwide, there are 55 million blogs, according to Technorati.

WebProNews got in touch with some well-versed and well-known bloggers in America and abroad to get their feelings on the suggested code of practice.

“Bear in mind,” said Web entrepreneur and blogger Scott Johnson, “that you’re talking about regulation of speech at the core and that’s a very, very nasty issue.”

Nasty enough to remind American bloggers of a raucous tea party thrown in Boston a couple of hundred years ago. Immediate aversion to free speech limits may be expected Stateside. What does a British expatriate living in North Carolina think of the proposal?

“I say ‘hell no!'” answered Marketing Pilgrim’s Andy Beal on his blog, Marketing Pilgrim. “[H]ow in the world do you apply standards to bloggers, when they range from 13 year olds talking about the teacher they hate, to retirees who happen to favor a particular political party[?]

“Try herding cats first. If you get that done, then come back to me about a voluntary code of conduct for bloggers.”

Blogebrity Robert Scoble, who led the above “poppycock” cheer, agrees that enforcing such standards would be unrealistic, given not only the size of the blogosphere, but also the international span of it.

“[A] large percentage of bloggers don’t type their goods in the UK,” writes Scoble. “So, who is going to regulate us? And, heck, we can’t agree on anything, including the definition of the word ‘blog,’ so you think you’re going to get us all to agree to a code of practice?”

Google Blogoscoped author Philipp Lenssen, blogging from Germany, is also sour about the idea. He differentiates between the press and the blogosphere, but says there are already “unwritten rules” that are enforced by readers and other bloggers.

“There are a lot of codes which bloggers intuitively respect which mainstream journalists, writing online, often don’t,” Lenssen told WebProNews in an email.

“Bloggers have a lot of standards when it comes to linking, titling a post, crediting others, updating a post or correcting itLots of these are unwritten rules for now, though you’ll know when you break them, ’cause you’ll get feedback from other bloggers and the community at large.”

Though all these bloggers have answered in their own colorful ways, the general consensus seems to be for any government body to keep their regulating hands out of the blogosphere. Everything there is handled in-house.

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