Model of blogging code criticizes plan's scope

BlogHer co-founder said guidelines should not be applied to entire blogosphere

When technology publisher Tim O'Reilly released a draft code of blogging conduct earlier this week, he said it was modeled after the community guidelines of BlogHer, a blogging site for women that was launched in January 2006. O'Reilly's draft code, which calls for conforming sites to use a symbol akin to a sheriff's badge stating "civility enforced," urges bloggers to avoid posting content intended to threaten or harass others and to delete comments that contain such content. The code also suggests that bloggers ban anonymous comments and connect privately with commenters when conflicts occur rather than publicly playing out those issues on the blog.

The code of conduct was prompted by the posting of disparaging remarks and threats of violence and death against prominent blogger Kathy Sierra last month. However, Lisa Stone, the co-founder of BlogHer, said that the BlogHer guidelines should not be applied to the entire blogosphere. Instead, Stone advocates leaving policies about content up to individual bloggers.

Excerpts from the conversation follow:

What was the philosophy behind your organization creating the community guidelines?

We wanted to create a place where women who blog could mix it up, discuss, debate and argue without having to deal with hate mail and hate speech. We don't just ban speech that is abusive, threatening or harassing. We also ban plagiarism and libel. We reserve the right to delete plagiarism, and if anyone uses our site to violate some third party's privacy that would not be acceptable. We reserve the right to remove unacceptable content. We embrace an environment of civil disagreement. We disagree like crazy all the time. Anyone who has an email address can come to the site, register and post. They can be anonymous. They are absolutely welcome to exercise their first amendment right, but if they post unacceptable content ...we reserve the right to delete it.

Do you agree with the need for a code of conduct for blogging throughout the blogosphere?

I do not believe that a one-size-fits-all blogging code of conduct is possible or even appropriate. Every blogger and every site should have the ability to self regulate, and only that community can come up with the guidelines that are appropriate. Those guidelines cannot be determined by an outside force. I appreciate the leadership that some prominent bloggers are trying to provide by suggesting that hate speech like the horrible messages posted about Kathy [Sierra] not be allowed and be deleted. BlogHer's guidelines are very specifically targeted at the kind of harassing, abusive speech that there are laws against in 45 different states. Hate speech directed at women ... is not limited to the Internet. This is a microcosm of our society. Free speech is a wonderful thing ...free speech is not a right to vandalize a blog with hate speech. That is the distinction we draw.

Do you think that women are more susceptible to the type of disparagement and threats Kathy Sierra has been dealing with, and if so, how can this be addressed?

I have received I don't know how may emails and phone calls from different female bloggers about the horrible messages they have received in their comments. If there is a silver lining to this, many women now know they are not the only ones receiving this kind of abuse. Every single blogger and every single social community has to come up with guidelines that work best for them, but they can't be proscribed by some kind of umbrella authority. Take for example a site where people were blogging about the war in Iraq. Guidelines for that site may be very different than for a site devoted to parenting. Think about the limitations for graphic images alone.

Have you ever received the types of harassment or threats that Kathy Sierra has described?

I have never received a death threat, but I have definitely received nasty comments that I delete. Kathy is one of the most prominent women who blog. In my experience, the more prominent the blogger -- male and female -- the more likely they are to receive abuse. The more nonwhite they are, the worse it gets. This is a microcosm of society. With the advent of technologies that allow us to delete hate speech ... we can avoid being muzzled.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?