Jean Dublog

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Connecticut Blogger Survey

Of course, you know Colin McEnroe's class has been studying blogs this semester. Many of you stop by now and then. And, you may have guessed it's term-paper time. For my shot at the beast, I want to talk to as many of you as possible. I want to know what you think about blogging ethics. What blogethics do you subscribe to? How are blogethics evolving across the blogosphere?

For my unscientific survey, I've got several open-ended queries and a short list of questions meant to evoke a yes or no response. I would very much appreciate hearing from you -- just leave your responses in the comment field or e-mail me! No anonymous comments, please. I just need to make sure it's one to a customer.

QUESTIONS:
1. Is there a widely embraced code of ethics among bloggers?

2. How are ethics among bloggers evolving?

3. Do blogethics vary by region? By blog topic?

4. What are the core ethical standards you subscribe to in blogging?

Please answer the following with yes or no.

Should general blogethics include the following:
A. Identify and link to sources whenever possible.
B. Never distort content of photos.
C. Never publish information you know is inaccurate.
D. Show compassion toward those adversely affected by your blog content.
E. Show good taste.
F. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
G. Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.
H. Never ban a person or delete a comment simply because you disagree with that person.
I. Be transparent in all you blog.

Thanks for your thoughts on the matter. I pledge to let you know what kind of results I find when I wrap up my project.

John

8 Comments:

  • This is a very relevant recent post on your topic. There's much more about it if you dig around the blogosphere. Let me try, briefly:

    1. No. There are some basic rules, but every rule is broken by some people some times. There is a general feel that the level should be higher than Usenet, and that the blogger owns the site and sets his/her own rules.

    2. The ethics have been in place for a while now, but there is new uncomfortable feeling as the government is starting to take a look and think of regulation. Last year's election was so contentious (and the first one since blogging really took off) that some rules became more widely known and more strictly enforced.

    3. Yes. Political/news/current events blogs are much more permissive of foul language and strongly worded sentiments than any other kind (e.g., personal journals, expert blogs, science blogs, tech-nerd blogs, etc). Bashing is a natural aspect of political campaigning, but is not a natural part of kitchen-table chat, or scientific discourse.

    4. I tend not to write about stuff I do not know anything about. If I do, I start the post with the caveat: this is an argument ad rectum. I very rarely personally insult people, not even Bush. I twice pointed out, in no polite terms, bloggers who themselves violated blogger ethics/norms by not backing down once exposed to have said something very erroneous. In general I leave even such things to the "expert", i.e., people who really know how to put other people down juicily. My worst insult to date was at David Horrowitz, but he completely deserved it.

    I have never deleted a comment that was not spam. I have never banned anyone. I try to provide a link to the sources of my ideas. I edit the posts to correct the mistakes by pointing out what was the original error, who pointed out I was wrong (with a Thank You), and what is the correct statement - with a new link if neccessary.

    A - yes
    B - photoshopping is fun, but it should be eother very obvious, or it should be stated it was retouched.
    C - yes
    D - No. Mine is a political blog. Enemies are to be made fun of destroyed. That is a part of the game. They are free to do the same to me on their blogs.
    E - Depends on the blog. I would say "Yes" for myself, but it does not apply to everyone.
    F - Yes. This is very important.
    G - No. I usually leave that to the 'experts'. I pick my fights carefully.
    H - Yes. Still, one is an owner of one's blog. I don't think this can be enforced, but such practices are a fair invitation to ridicule by others.
    I - Yes, although I am not 100% sure what you mean by this. How can you not be transparent? Misrepresent your own thoughts and feelings?

    By Blogger coturnix, at 8:41 PM  

  • Interesting topic. Here's what I think (and I am a state political blogger, so that's where I'm coming from).

    Is there a widely embraced code of ethics among bloggers?

    There is nothing codified, but there are certain wide general standards that everyone seems to more-or-less follow. It's simple stuff like providing a link (or an explanation) to quoted or otherwise referenced articles, providing links to those who link to you. However, common ethics don't go much beyond the netiquette stage at this time.

    There is a dim sense that stealing others' material is wrong, but the thievery continues, especially on the lowest levels of the blogosphere.

    Beyond the basic stage, ethics seem pretty erratic, and tend to depend on either the blogger or the level of exposure a blog gets.

    How are ethics among bloggers evolving?

    Well.... I think in some areas (politics are a good example), the more high-profile blogs are starting to develop a psuedo-journalistic sense of ethics, mostly because more people are watching what they do. I think that as blogs become more and more established, that ethical sense will start to harden.

    Do blogethics vary by region? By blog topic?

    Region? No. Topic? Yes. I do agree with the comment above that political blogs tend to be loud, angry, rude and partisan (for the record, I try not to go in this direction, although I don't control my commenters), but I think that as ethical standards (i.e., in regards to plagiarism, openness, etc.) go, political blogs are developing some of the strictest.

    This is because political blogs tend to take on a journalist's role more often than a lot of other kinds of blogs do--they report, interview and disseminate news and information to an audience. People are always questioning where information comes from on a political blog, and examining it for bias. Political bloggers are learning to back up their statements with sources and research.

    Expert blogs, personal journals and subject-specific blogs tend to be slightly more lax, although they also run into these particular issues less. A link to an amusing/interesting story is often enough.

    What are the core ethical standards you subscribe to in blogging?

    I try to be fair-minded whenever I can. I want to give each side a fair hearing, instead of making judgements based on partisan leanings or knee-jerk reactions.

    I also try to cite my sources rigorously. I think I may be the only blogger who provides an MLA citation to my sources. I do this because the web is too mutable for a simple link. If someone is trying to find the article I referenced six months from now, the web version will have disappeared and the person will be stuck with a broken link. If he/she wants to find the story, I've provided a way for them to do so.

    I also try to be open and transparent whenever possible. If I have a conflict of interest, I'll mention it.

    Y/N Questions

    A. Identify and link to sources whenever possible.

    Yes. Always. People need to read the source and make up their own minds.

    B. Never distort content of photos.

    I don't tend to post photos. The only exception to this is the maps I provide, which are based on DECD maps but given pretty colors by me. I checked copyright law, which allows me to alter these sorts of images for reference or educational purposes.

    Bloggers need to bone up on copyright law.

    C. Never publish information you know is inaccurate.

    I have never done this. If you publish false statements, you lose credibility. If I'm wrong, I admit it.

    D. Show compassion toward those adversely affected by your blog content.
    Compassion? No. Understanding? Most of the time.

    E. Show good taste.
    Yes. I can't speak for my commenters, though. :)

    F. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
    I try to do this as much as possible.

    G. Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.
    No. Not unless they've done something potentially damaging.

    H. Never ban a person or delete a comment simply because you disagree with that person.
    I don't ban, but I do delete comments from time to time if the comment is really outstandingly hurtful to another reader or in poor taste. Oh, and comment spam gets chucked, too.

    I. Be transparent in all you blog.
    I try to be.

    By Blogger Genghis Conn, at 8:47 AM  

  • 1. Blogger ethics are just as diverse as ethics in any other slice of the population - with the added twist of anonymity for some.

    2. Blogger ethics are evolving just as painfully slowly as in every other field. A bit of discussion here, a little trial and error there...

    3. The blogs I read represent a much narrower segment than McEnroe has encouraged you to read. So I can't say how ethics among regions or topics vary.

    4. Same as my public life. Honesty, fundamental interest in adding something to the great conversation, courtesy, good grammer and spelling - grammer and spelling aren't ethical issues - but they show self-respect and respect for readers.

    A. Absolutely
    B. Identify altered photos
    C. Absolutely
    D. I can't picture anyone being adversely affected by my blog content.
    E. Good idea
    F. Yes
    G. I don't have time to be the blog police
    H. I'm kind of with Bitch PhD here. I'll ban or delete anything I want to. I don't have any problem with disagreement. I'm more likely to object to irrelevance or obscenity.
    I. Transparent? I've never understood what that means. You want to see through what I write? I don't think there's any need for that.

    Good luck with your paper.
    P.S. Have you thought about enabling titles in your post form to avoid listing the entire first line in the sidebar?

    By Blogger Mary Ann, at 8:24 AM  

  • QUESTIONS:
    1. Is there a widely embraced code of ethics among bloggers?

    Well, I just found some at www.cyberjournalist.net and feel they do define a sufficient set of principles for writing on the web.

    2. How are ethics among bloggers evolving?

    I have no idea. I do know that many bloggers make an attempt to make their blogs useful, informative or funny and such and for that elements of good writing are needed.

    3. Do blogethics vary by region? By blog topic?

    Most likely. Those blogs with an agenda to sway the reader's opinion at any cost probably use some pretty loose standards for fact and logic and attempt to appeal to strong emotions.

    Porn blogs and the like are by their nature -- without ethics.

    4. What are the core ethical standards you subscribe to in blogging?

    I try to be as accurate as I can. I try to support my opinions with facts or I try to at least express my biases. I try to give credit if I use or allude to the works of others. Since constructive criticism takes experience and skill, I try to avoid criticizing others.

    I attempt to keep my blog respectful in other ways by not using foul language or unseemly images.

    Since my blog involve movie reivews, I also want to be sensitive about the private life of celebrities.

    Please answer the following with yes or no.

    Should general blogethics include the following:

    A. Identify and link to sources whenever possible.
    yes

    B. Never distort content of photos.
    yes

    C. Never publish information you know is inaccurate.
    Yes

    D. Show compassion toward those adversely affected by your blog content.
    yes

    E. Show good taste.

    F. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
    yes

    G. Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.



    H. Never ban a person or delete a comment simply because you disagree with that person.


    I. Be transparent in all you blog.


    E, G, H, and I are complex situations and deserve more than a choice of yes or no

    By Blogger Bollywood Talk, at 2:30 PM  

  • QUESTIONS:
    1. Is there a widely embraced code of ethics among bloggers?

    Well, I just found some at www.cyberjournalist.net and feel they do define a sufficient set of principles for writing on the web.

    2. How are ethics among bloggers evolving?

    I have no idea. I do know that many bloggers make an attempt to make their blogs useful, informative or funny and such and for that elements of good writing are needed.

    3. Do blogethics vary by region? By blog topic?

    Most likely. Those blogs with an agenda to sway the reader's opinion at any cost probably use some pretty loose standards for fact and logic and attempt to appeal to strong emotions.

    Porn blogs and the like are by their nature -- without ethics.

    4. What are the core ethical standards you subscribe to in blogging?

    I try to be as accurate as I can. I try to support my opinions with facts or I try to at least express my biases. I try to give credit if I use or allude to the works of others. Since constructive criticism takes experience and skill, I try to avoid criticizing others.

    I attempt to keep my blog respectful in other ways by not using foul language or unseemly images.

    Since my blog involve movie reivews, I also want to be sensitive about the private life of celebrities.

    Please answer the following with yes or no.

    Should general blogethics include the following:

    A. Identify and link to sources whenever possible.
    yes

    B. Never distort content of photos.
    yes

    C. Never publish information you know is inaccurate.
    Yes

    D. Show compassion toward those adversely affected by your blog content.
    yes

    E. Show good taste.

    F. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
    yes

    G. Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.



    H. Never ban a person or delete a comment simply because you disagree with that person.


    I. Be transparent in all you blog.


    E, G, H, and I are complex situations and deserve more than a choice of yes or no

    By Blogger Bollywood Talk, at 2:32 PM  

  • 1. Is there a widely embraced code of ethics among bloggers? Yes, but just like other forms of journalism it is sometimes broken. Hey, we're all human.

    2. How are ethics among bloggers evolving? Daily

    3. Do blogethics vary by region? By blog topic? No and no, but adherence does depend on the character of each individual blogger.

    4. What are the core ethical standards you subscribe to in blogging? Tell the truth and admit my mistakes ON THE BLOG.

    Please answer the following with yes or no.

    Should general blogethics include the following:
    A. Identify and link to sources whenever possible. Yes
    B. Never distort content of photos. Sorry, but I often deal in comedy so distortion is a must, but I make no secret that the distortion is parody and not truth.
    C. Never publish information you know is inaccurate. Yes, but with a parody exception.
    D. Show compassion toward those adversely affected by your blog content. The more important the public figure the less compassion. Always show compassion for the little guy for you can do him far more harm.
    E. Show good taste. When it tastes good.
    F. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly. YES YES YES
    G. Expose unethical practices of other bloggers. YES YES YES
    H. Never ban a person or delete a comment simply because you disagree with that person. Yes
    I. Be transparent in all you blog. YES YES YES

    Sorry about not following the rules, I just couldn't for fear my answers might be misconstrewed.

    By Blogger Billy Jones, at 4:14 AM  

  • 1. Is there a widely embraced code of ethics among bloggers?

    This is a tricky question, and I'm hardly an expert on the subject. Blogs I tend to read seem to follow certain ethical standards, though that's hardly indicative as it becomes a selection criteria regarding the blogs I end up reading.

    A survey of mainstream media reaction to blogs might indicate that there is no widely accepted standard, but that is equally dubious as the msm is likely to latch on to the most wild and attention-getting examples out there.

    I would argue that a plurality of bloggers have some core ethical beliefs that are common, but there is certainly a significant portion that don't concern themselves with ethics.

    2. How are ethics among bloggers evolving?

    I would postulate that there's going to be a drift to the two extremes on this issue, at least in terms of popularly read blogs. Blogs have there own form of natural selection in the sense that certain blogs attract significantly more readership than others. This doesn't indicate much, however, as even blogs with limited readership (like mine :-D ) are likely to continue.

    I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see either a normal or a bimodal distribution develop among the blogging community regarding ethics.

    3. Do blogethics vary by region? By blog topic?

    Possibly. I would argue that blog ethics are most likely to vary by purpose however, and that this may have some correlation to topic or region. I blog for the sake of self-expression, a somewhat narcissistic exercise to be sure, but also to encourage discussion and communication. I also try to be very academic about the topics I approach. Blogs exist to sell a product or a certain ideological viewpoint, also, and they may be less concerned with the ethical issues.

    4. What are the core ethical standards you subscribe to in blogging?

    Again, I try to take a fairly academic approach to what I do. I try to cite sources, give credit where credit is due, supply evidence for my arguments, and try to present a fair and accurate picture. For specifics, it might be best to look at how I answer your binary questions.

    Please answer the following with yes or no.

    Should general blogethics include the following:
    A. Identify and link to sources whenever possible. - YES
    B. Never distort content of photos. - YES
    C. Never publish information you know is inaccurate. - YES
    D. Show compassion toward those adversely affected by your blog content. - YES
    E. Show good taste. - YES
    F. Admit mistakes and correct them promptly. - YES
    G. Expose unethical practices of other bloggers. - NO (with caveats)
    H. Never ban a person or delete a comment simply because you disagree with that person. - YES
    I. Be transparent in all you blog. - YES

    Further elaboration on G:
    I don't think it is ethically my responsibility to expose all that I see that is unethical, but I don't mean to imply that it is unethical to expose unethical behavior, and that it shouldn't, in certain circumstances, be done. On a practical level, though, there's too much unethical behavior out there for me to expose all of it.

    By Blogger Jim Eastman, at 5:41 PM  

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