Can bloggers really create a formal code of ethics?
Is it too late to bring civility to the Web?
The conversational free-for-all of the blogosphere can be a scary place at times. This is what has promoted a few high-profile figures in high-tech to propose a blogger code of conduct to clean up the quality of online discourse.
Earlier this month, Tim O’Reilly, a conference promoter and book publisher who is credited with coining the term Web 2.0, began working with Jimmy Wales, creator of the communal online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to create a set of guidelines to shape online discussion and debate.
The major recommendation is giving bloggers the ethical OK to ban anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and to be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship.
Since the inception of blogs, it has been an unwritten rule that a true blog is a symmetrical two-way conversation. If the blogger doesn't appreciate a comment, he or she just can't remove it.
But what happens when people are downright nasty, leaving threatening or obscene messages?
O'Reilly and Wales are saying it's OK to delete it. Then again, who makes the decision on what is an acceptable or unacceptable comment? Should a blogger be his or her own gatekeeper?
Here are Wales' proposed guidelines.