Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Call For Blogging Courtesy

I posted recently on Sparrowblog about Duke University student Andrew Giuliani and his relationship with his father. I edited the post many times, as one of my goals in tracking the First Kid wannabes is to avoid trashing them. I'm glad I took time to fiddle with the words, as my stats shortly revealed a visitor from a dorm at Duke University searching for "Andrew Giuliani." Now I know young Giuliani's not the only student there, but if he was indeed googling himself, I'd want him to leave my blog feeling like he'd been treated with courtesy.

The New York Times yesterday reported on a new discussion among prominent bloggers in A Call For Manners in a World of Nasty Blogs that was spurred by disturbing death threats posted on Kathy Sierra's technology blog:
... Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Wales (creator of Wikipedia) talk about creating several sets of guidelines for conduct and seals of approval represented by logos. For example, anonymous writing might be acceptable in one set; in another, it would be discouraged. Under a third set of guidelines, bloggers would pledge to get a second source for any gossip or breaking news they write about.

Bloggers could then pick a set of principles and post the corresponding badge on their page, to indicate to readers what kind of behavior and dialogue they will engage in and tolerate. The whole system would be voluntary, relying on the community to police itself.

...Some online writers wonder how anyone could persuade even a fraction of the millions of bloggers to embrace one set of standards. Others say that the code smacks of restrictions on free speech ...

Robert Scoble, a popular technology blogger who stopped blogging for a week in solidarity with Kathy Sierra after her ordeal became public, says the proposed rules “make me feel uncomfortable.” He adds, “As a writer, it makes me feel like I live in Iran.”
The Kid Lit corner of the blogosphere needs to weigh in. I like the idea of a self-imposed standard that's made clear by some kind of communally-understood badge on my blog, and even though I don't moderate comments, I have deleted a few nasty anonymous ones here on the Fire Escape. How about you?

3 comments:

  1. Perhaps the "anonymous" option could/should be deleted from forums. Legislating good behavior would be difficult. It's really sad that we don't treat each other better!

    I have a blog written esp. for children and my concern is not the comments but privacy issues and also the links to people's profiles. When people comment, they leave a link to their profile page or their blog. Those may not be appropriate for children. I don't include all comments that I receive because of that.

    One of the reasons I pursued a blog about Japan for children is that there's not much out there just for kids. A lot of the stuff out there about Japan leads the reader to other sites or ads that are not appropriate for children.

    I've had a look at some of the myspace pages and wonder if any monitoring is going on there. Is that the best place for childlit authors?

    I would like to see or find a ring of blogs and sites that are child safe. Building a body of work that provides a safe, positive and polite environment. Anyone know of one?

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  2. I think the bloggers code is an excellent idea.

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  3. I think the Kid Lit corner has seen nothing like what happened to Kathy Sierra in part because we have an unspoken, unwritten self imposed code of conduct.

    Having grazed thru the Sierra posts, and the involved blogs, etc. -- we have nothing like that going on; and unless and until there is a problem like that, I'm not comfortable with a written code of conduct.

    Why? Other than "it hasn't happened here yet"? Because our tone is different from those other blogs. I cannot imagine someone disagreeing with a blog post I wrote by threatening to rape me or my family members. If and when that happens -- I'll deal with it then.

    Have I had my feelings hurt by certain blog posts? Yes. Have I sat on responding out of hurt feelings so that it doesn't turn into a flame war? Yes. But it has all been part of normal conversation. Disagreement occurs, and we need the freedom to disagree. And the wisdom to know when to post or not.

    Should we take responsibility for what appears in our comments? Absolutely; my blog, my ability to delete, and that's what I've seen with most of the kid lit blogs.

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