When I started blogging in 1998, there was no such word as blog. So of course, there was no blog code of conduct. Fast forward nearly 10 years (Good God, my 10-year blogging anniversary is next year!), and millions of blogs, and there’s still no established code of conduct. Sure everyone knows that you should link to the articles you quote, you should hat tip sources from which you get information. I’ve found, from personal experience, in this age of Technorati, that the more you blog, the more you’ll learn and have to conform to the standards of blogging.
But not everyone follows these rules. Say, you comment on a group blog about the topic, giving a heads up on information that you learned as a reporter but is easily backed up by a quick Google search. Is it required to give you a hat tip with a link? Some would say yes, but it doesn’t matter – there are still some bloggers out there who don’t feel the need.
Anyway, that was tangential. I read this BBC article yesterday on death threats against one blogger and whether a blogging code of conduct is needed. Its an interesting debate, considering Michelle Malkin had to move after her family’s address was posted online last year and in the wake of the nasty conduct of a certain former teacher as Cathy Seipp lay dying. (BTW, the LA Weekly gave us what we really needed – coverage of Cathy’s funeral. Thank you for that!)
But, even if we were to establish some rules – who would enforce it? How would you let every new blogger know about it, considering there are new ones that spring up every day? Would it be just an American thing, or would it be global? What would the punishment be for violating those rules?
I suppose that’s what makes the blogosphere so much like the Wild West — an accepted, unsaid and highly changeable code of conduct, but no way to really enforce it.