You Think Bloggers Would Ever Actually Agree To Follow A Voluntary Code Of Conduct?

from the that's-not-blogging dept

People keep trying to pigeonhole blogs into being some sort of “amateur” press, but that completely misunderstands the medium. Blogs are simply a content management system. It’s a way of publishing content easily, and people can (and do!) do anything they want with it. Some bloggers are journalists. Many bloggers aren’t. Trying to put any kind of “rules” on it seems particularly pointless, but it doesn’t mean some won’t try. While at least the UK’s Press Complaints Commission director Tim Toulmin admits that government regulation of bloggers doesn’t make sense, it’s somewhat amusing that he’s suggesting a voluntary code that bloggers adhere to, and then if anyone violates the code, the PCC can look into it. That’s really no different than government regulation, except that a few powerful bloggers write the regulations rather than government officials. However, again, the problem is that this assumes bloggers are all just like journalists and that they’d all agree to some code — which is ridiculous. It would be like requiring everyone who uses paper to follow a specific code for what can be written on paper. What blogs allow is open communication from anyone. So if there’s a complaint about how a particular blogger covers a particular story, the nice thing is that anyone else can step up and refute the post on their own blog. In other words, the very democratic nature of blog publishing means that it doesn’t need any regulation. It’s self-regulating by itself: if you have a problem with what someone says, feel free to respond.

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Comments on “You Think Bloggers Would Ever Actually Agree To Follow A Voluntary Code Of Conduct?”

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todd says:

Wait a minute, I think this blog entry is totally off base. People use blogs to find information from sources outside the mainstream media as well as to communicate their of personal knowledge on a topic or experience. If we donot impose some sort of ethics code readers can be completly misled by an off-base blog entry.

damn, i think i just proved the point of this entry and the ridiculousness of a blog code of conduct.

Shohat says:

You are forgetting something very important.

Blogs are read by about 4% of internet users, and around 1% of such users are contant blog readers . While I read some tech blogs, out of around 15 or so internet users I am real friends with , nobody reads or writes blogs. Moreover, I am annoyed by the fact the google rates blog posts well, and often avoid /xxxx/xx/nn/yyy-yyy-yyy.html results.
So it doesnt matter what is forbbiden or allowed to bloggers , might as well ban it alltogether, i doubt the internet will actually notice.

xeh says:

I belive this story missunderstands the term “voluntary”, they arn’t saying all blogs must adhear to this code, they’re staying here is how blogs should be written and letting it like like that…

There are already standards for writing on paper, letterheadings, formal documentation standards etc. etc. so why not set a standard for blogs… the standard could include hotlinking sources/references and footer notes. something which would benefit automatic readers.

Standards shouldn’t be viewed as a threat, more just a way of doing things.

Michael S says:

Some Bloggers Want Journalist Rights...

I think the issue comes up when “freedom of the press” comes up and bloggers want to get press passes to events and are denied because they aren’t “mainstream press”. Bloggers can’t have it both ways; can’t be opinionated and frivolous AND want to be considered serious journalists.

Maybe a new class of bloggers needs to be created: journalistic bloggers. That way, reporters can be blogging news and teenagers can blog about what they are wearing and why it affects their world so much.

frank says:

Re: Some Bloggers Want Journalist Rights...

How about this:

Web / Blog site that has a bit more oversite.

The volume of “articles” would be to high to have any kind of “formal” editorial, but I think that if someone belonged to this sight (or maybe a membership ??) they should be afforded some kind of journalistic status and be included.

I mean if a school newspaper can get access to some things, then that type of group should as well.

Something that has some kind of standards and revocation ability based on conduct and or editorial review.

Just giving some random semi-literate person who can type out an idea journalistic “freedom” is pretty absurd. There are bloggers out there who are knowledable and research their topics, then there are bloggers who just spit out random shit and call it fact.

I would imagine, like most things, that the 80/20 rule applies here as well.

80% = bullshit
20% = people who are responsible.
(not a researched fact, just applying general statistic logic)

Anyway, just my two cents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Some Bloggers Want Journalist Rights...

Why can’t they have it both ways? If our society takes them seriously as important communicators of information then theyll get their press passes because some people will want some of them to convey information through this new channel in this new way.

Journalist bloggers are a joke. Theyre not real bloggers. Theyre journalists with blogs. But your idea is not bad.. let me tweak it a little. Lets make organized journalist bloggers. Self-governed organizations that pool their clout and resources and use it to bludgeon us into taking them seriously as a journalistic force. High-class bloggers’ society. This takes advantage of the social and philosophical differences of bloggers while helping insert them into a world with protocols developed before the concept of bloggers existed. Using the existing connections through established journalism concepts is no good–this will result in established journalists who just happen to post blogs, as I said. Not the same thing at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Goofy. Is this like when we were taught in school how to write a formal “business letter”, block style and all? Kinda like when that PITA assistant in MS Word says “I see you’re trying to write a letter. Would you like me to help you?”

It was a recommended form, a guideline, a cultural ‘norm’ … deviate from it and your mileage may vary. How is this even enforceable? Not legally … through some kind of blog blacklist? A scarlet icon? Bloghaus?

Seems like a waste of a lot of people’s time, effort and $ for a niche media that doesn’t need it …

Anonymous Coward says:

first, its voluntary, so if no one agrees to it, the point is moot.

second, if you agree at first, you can withdraw later, and not put up with the BS.

as for bloggers wanting press passes, and the like, if the blog is a “news source” it must follow journalistic procedure (whatever that is) and be all professional like.

what’s next? standard website design? every page will look like google, wikipedia, amazon, or some crazy porn site? sure, that’ll go over well.

but as i said, it comes down to this. it’s voluntary. and besides if it comes up as “mandatory” i’m sure another site will pop up (lol, rofl, lmao) that allows you to do the same thing, just call it something else. because ist’s a blog just a mainly txt webpage with a update history link? hell, i can make my own blog, but have it be “a real web page”

just my small ammount of change

mousepaw says:

blogging laws?

I thought blogs were a place where I could read interesting articles and make comments. Isn’t that the purpose?

Journalism doesn’t really have anything to do with, well, can I say “oral conversations?” Would we all have to be journalists to talk? No. So why would we have to be journalists or adhere to “journalistic practices” when conversing or commenting on a blog?

Some sites do have rules that state that they don’t allow swearing or other non-relevant data passing through and you have to agree to it before you post.

I noticed on this blog that if I don’t include my email address that my post is considered spam and so somebody missed out on a “thank you” because I accidentally hit the submit button before I noticed my email address wasn’t there… ooops.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: blogging laws?

I noticed on this blog that if I don’t include my email address that my post is considered spam and so somebody missed out on a “thank you” because I accidentally hit the submit button before I noticed my email address wasn’t there… ooops.

I just wanted to say this is untrue on two accounts. First, not including an email address does not make it spam. The spam filter looks at many different factors, and the vast majority of commenters do not include an email address and their emails get through just fine.

Second, your assumption that comments flagged as spam never get on the site is wrong. As we’ve said repeatedly (and as it says when your comment is flagged), someone from Techdirt reviews all the comments caught by the filter and releases the legit ones.

Rav Gera (user link) says:

Now now

Let’s think about this for a second. OK, blogs are just a technique, like paper. And newspapers are just paper, too. Yet there *are* codes which are applied to the press, which are voluntary, and yet do rein in some of the excesses of the media (and don’t forget, the UK – where the PCC applies – has a press more irresponsible, intrusive and bias-filled than almost anything in the US). So someone has obviously managed to define “the press” in a useful way – to seperate a home-made newsletter made by a crazy person from a million-selling newspaper. The same needs to happen, clearly, with blogs. If my blog – which, I’ll be honest, no-one reads – says something untrue or irresponsible, it doesn’t matter. But if, say, Guido Fawkes (, who has tens of thousands of readers, says something untrue or irresponsible – which he does virtually every day – it *can* spread, it *can* get passed around, it *can* unfairly harm people’s reputations, influence elections, and so on. Of course some rules of play are needed. Comments alone aren’t enough – any more than letters to the editor keep newspapers in line.

You’re right. Blogs are a medium, not a format. But there *are* blogs which address serious issues, set the tone of the debate, and are read by a lot of people (the top blogs in the UK have 100,000+ readers, which is more than most newspapers). Of course they have responsibilities. The trick is to separate them from the ones where people talk about their cat. A voluntary code makes that up to the blogging organisations themselves.

Oh and by the way. Voluntary regulation with PCC enforcement *isn’t* government regulation. It’s industry self-regulation; if a newspaper disagrees with a PCC ruling, they can simply leave the PCC (this has occasionally happened). It’s the fear of actual government regulation that keeps UK newspapers vaguely in line.

billg (user link) says:

Yes, blogs are just content management systems, but they are also ways for people to publish for public consumption. Whether engaged in journalism or not, the public nature of blog publishing means bloggers need to be aware of, and adhere to, a few basic concepts. Like, don’t plagiarize. Or, don’t engage in character assassination. Learn what libel is all about.

We may not need a code, voluntary or otherwise, but blogging is a public activity, and with that comes long-standing legal implications that don’t go away because we’re all using a new set of tools.

Chantel says:


First of all this is retarded!!! Bloggers shouldn’t have to follow a code!! That’s just not right…blogs are where people can express their feelings or just write a story… soon enough were gonna have to be told what to write because the government is over-powering us!!! Newsflash people have a say, and this is just another way of expressing it!!!

|333173|3|_||3 says:

1) the same defamtion/libel/copyright/whatever laws should apply on any web page in a country (define that how you will), regardless of how they are managed.

2) While Murdoch’s tabloids are pretty awful, the serious broadsheets are better (Times, FT, Telegraph, there is a good comment on British Newspapers in Yes Prime Minister, I can’t be bothered to find the page)

3) Standards for code design should be voluntary, and set by the W3C or ISO, not any government. IF HMG thinks there should be a British standard for the code, then that is a job for BSO, not the PCC (and it might get adopted by the ISO, like 9001 ectetera did). HTois should only be used to simplify the production of a generic screenreader

4) Bloggers are not journalists, they are simply those who discuss stuff. THere is a difference, albeit some thimes that teh bloggers are telling more news.

5) This is a blog. (some ppl seem to forget that)

DP says:

Blog standards

This is so funny – the seriousness of this “debate”. Who gives a damn what anyone says about anything? When did the Usa turn into such a nation of lazy crybabies and whiners? “mommy – I dont like what he said” Jeezzz- lets all get the government to adopt standards for toilets that wipe our ass the PROPERr way!
If you dont like what you read – GO somewhere else. If you think the info is dubious -find somewhere else!
In other words -YOU talk to much -shut the hell up and and do something.

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