Pardon Me While I Roll My Eyes
Okay, about this “Blogger Code of Conduct” thing:
Whatever. I’ll be ignoring this entirely (after this post, obviously). Some reasons for this:
1. This is my site and I couldn’t care less how anyone else thinks it should be run; anyone else who thinks they should have a say in how the site is run (i.e., “the community will police itself”) is going to learn all the different ways I know how to say “kiss my ass.”
2. Outside my site I couldn’t possibly care less how people run their own sites. It’s their site, let them do what they want.
3. Who elected Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales the hall monitors of the Internet?
This Blogger Code of Conduct is predicated on two fundamental and fundamentally incorrect beliefs: One, that there’s a “blogosphere” community in any coherent, structured and enforceable way; Two, that the people who write blogs are sufficiently similar, in personality and output of content, that an attempt to standardize any aspect of the conversation will be successful. There’s also a third belief, reached from the first two, which is that this community of bloggers needs direction from its notable members/leaders, i.e., O’Reilly and Wales. This is equally incorrect.
People seem to believe these points should be correct, however, particularly the first of these. The “blogosphere” feels like a community, because everybody links to everybody and reads everyone else’s sites, and because people are people — there are a certain number of people who can be either convinced or shamed into following a certain mode of conduct. But it’s not the same thing, and I’m a perfect example of why not: I haven’t the slightest inclination to run my site in any other way other than how I choose to, and no amount of “community” pressure is going to change that. This is because when it comes down to it, I just don’t care what anyone else thinks of the site. I have it up for me. There’s no way for the “community” to make me do anything I don’t want, either; the blog police will not come to my door and ask to see my Code of Conduct badge, and haul me away or fine me if I don’t have it. Some people might not visit the site if I don’t have a Code of Conduct badge or whatever, but I wouldn’t want those people’s patronage anyway. There is no “community” — there’s me and how I choose to run this joint.
Does this mean my site is lawless and full of dickheads? No, because as it happens, I have a site disclaimer and comment rules which are pretty clear about what and how I will post, and what I will and won’t tolerate from people posting here. These rules have been here for years, and I regularly call them out and have links to them in the appropriate places. As the site is generally visited by people with brains who want to have a discussion rather than spew, and people know I’m not shy in enforcing my comment rules, this is a spirited but generally civil place. Occasionally one of the more obnoxious visitors will get out of line, or wish to suggest I am obliged to tolerate their presence whether I want to or not; those folks are corrected regarding this apprehension sooner than later. The article notes that some bloggers think deleting obnoxious comments is a violation of the commenter’s right to free speech. These bloggers deserve what they get.
Indeed, the reason that we’re now at a point where some self-appointed guardians of the discourse have decided it’s necessary to tell the rest of us slobs how to talk to each other is that people apparently forgot they have the right on their own sites to tell obnoxious dickheads to shut the hell up. Honestly, I don’t know what to say to that, other than I’m sorry that other people’s muddled-headed conception of what “free speech” is has allowed obnoxious dickheads to run free in blogs, and allowed busybodies to wring their hands in the New York Times about how mean the blogosphere is. It’s idiotic.
What the blog world needs is not a universal “Code of Conduct”; what it needs is for people to remind themselves that deleting comments from obnoxious dickheads is a good thing. It’s simple: if someone’s an obnoxious dickhead, then pop! goes their comment. You don’t even have to explain why, although it is always fun to do so. The commenter will either learn to abide by your rules, or they will go away. Either way, your problem is solved. You don’t need community policing or a code of conduct to make it happen. You just do it.