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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Monday, April 2, 2007

Heh .. Johnnie .. I'm with you in feeling ranty! As a response to this, a stopcyberbullying community is nice, comments policies and guidelines are ok if you believe you need them, but a Bloggers Code of Conduct???

What will it achieve - perhaps nothing. What will you do if someone violates the bloggers code of conduct - delete their comments, report them - that's something you can do without such a formal code isn't it? Who will enforce this Code of Conduct across blogs? Will bloggers that do not share this 'code of conduct' be ostracized? Will not this 'moral' responsibility grow to have legal ramifications? Will spammers and trolls and death threat issuers from non-US countries be prosecuted? Will you be able to stop them? Will you only encourage people to look for different and more sophisticated ways of piling on their vile - it is after all a human condition, and not a blog condition.

It seems to me, culturally, it is a very North-American thing to think up. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love some aspects of North America and have met some of the finest folks there - but this operating out of 'fear' is one aspect I have written about earlier, that I find goes beyond protection. Perhaps it's the phrasing of it that gets to me - 'Code of Conduct' implies rules and regulations, implicit in this is that there is only one way ahead. I don't like that.
It will make us guard our words. It will give credence to the power games played out in the blogworld by providing yet another weapon to divide those who have it and those who don't. It will foster a culture of fear. In the worst case, it will breed litigation, insurance, liability.

Why formalize something we're doing anyways - if you're proud of your space (your blog in this case) you'll protect it the way you feel best. Banning anonymous comments for instance, is a personal choice - in my case, I have deleted comments that are vulgar, lewd and allude to physical threats. The others, I prefer to debate with. If others do not wish to, ignore them or take the 'fight' to your space, or theirs. There is a strong self-regulating aspect to this medium, and the recent events are proof, with different angles and facets to the story emerging.

My biggest fear in having a 'formal' code of conduct is it will take some of the 'human' out of the blog. It will raise entry barriers to participate in blog conversations, where few exist. It may even force more bloggers to shut down all conversations in comments, because a few are violating their freedom to comment. It will defeat the self-regulatory and self-correcting nature of this medium. One of the delights of blogging is it so reflects human behaviour - it gives us the space to share freely our humility, our pride and our infallibilities, our opinions and counterpoints, our failures and successes, our rituals and dreams, our conflicts and resolutions. It lets us debate and converse with others freely and intuitively. It may reflect our professional views, but it is as far from 'corporatization' as any medium is today. Will not shared standards and practice bring about 'corporatization' in some form or other?

There's my long rant! Unlike Johnnie's pithy post.


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