Democracy Downloaded

Bloggers’ Code of Ethics

Posted by joevoeller on April 11, 2007

I can’t ignore this front-page story from yesterday’s New York Times about efforts to create guidelines and seals of approval to help govern the blog world. The goal, according to the article, is to “clean up the quality of online discourse.”

All of this just seems to show that the blogosphere is growing up. I am sure that talk of “seals of approval” would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. But with millions of blogs and an influx of nasty comments by anonymous posters, something had to give.

Interestingly, some of the old-fashioned rules of journalism might also be emerging victoriously from underneath the blog buzz. (For example, the article states that some are now asking bloggers to pledge to get a minimum of two sources to verify a story.)

But my biggest question is one of enforcement. It makes sense to ensure that any new certification system is based on an “opt-in” format. But what happens if a blogger does opt in and gets a seal of approval, but then violates the code?  Can they be held accountable? If so, how?

Or what if some bloggers challenge a blog’s ceritfication simply because they don’t agree with the content? Its not clear to me who the ultimate “decider” would be in these disputes, to borrow a word from our president.

All of these questions will be answered over time. Ironically, the history of “old-fashioned” journalism might hold some interesting clues for the future of blogs. 

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