Blogger’s Code of Conduct: Is it really needed?

Code of Ethics for Bloggers In March 2007 an A-list blogger, Kathy Sierra, received several threatening and sexually graphic photos which intimidated Kathy into cancelling her workshop and speech at O’Reilly’s Etech Conference. The intimidation carried over to two additional blogs which unfortunately further caused Kathy to fear for her life and lock herself indoors.

This issue prompted other A-list bloggers to temporarily suspend postings to their blogs in support of Kathy and some found a need for a bloggers’ code of conduct.

The Blogger Code of Conduct covers six topics including: responsibility for our own words and comments allowed on the blog, won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t say in person, connect privately before responding publicly, if we believe someone is unfairly attacking someone we take action, do not allow anonymous comments and ignore the trolls.

While most of the Blogger Code of Conduct seems like common sense, the only item I personally don’t agree with is not allowing anonymous comments. Granted, with out current platform at Gizmos for Geeks, this is not a problem for us (we’re working on that though!). I understand the issue with anonymous commenters and posters, and glad I did not run across Kathy’s antagonists comments, but I still feel that anonymity has a place on the Internet. It is a shame that some people hide behind anonymous comments to hurt people, but with that said anonymity can create a welcomed place for those that do not want to leave excellent content for one reason or another. Through anonymous commenting you can sometimes extract the most insightful ideas or the best constructive criticism from people that would otherwise simply lurk and not contribute on your site. The decision to allow anonymous comments or to moderate comments need to be left in the hands of those owning the blogs.

In addition, I don’t think blog readers need a badge to explain the type of site they are visiting (“civility enforced” or “anything goes”). Give readers credit for having a brain and a choice!

For good or bad, the Internet is defined by anonymity. While I like to believe the Geeks and all our readers only have exhibited only polite behavior towards one another, we won’t be wearing the “Civility Enforced” badge.