Initially proposed by online media guru Tim O’Reilly, the Blogger‘s Code of Conduct strives to ensure civility, respect, and integrity among bloggers and other social media users. First proposed in 2007 due to threats made to blogger Kathy Sierra, the Code promotes the following 7 tenets:
1. Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
You own your own words. Words are like bullets. Once your tongue fires them off, it’s impossible to take them back. In addition to owning your words, you also own the tone you allow on any blog or social media platform under your control. Recognize the effect your cyberspace voice has on others and step up when things go wrong. Don’t give space to hate, even if these outside voices purport to agree with you. As a friend of mine would often say, “Remember who’s you are.”
2. Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.
Let people know that civil discourse and engaging comments are welcome. However, be sure to communicate clearly that the spewing of vitriolic rhetoric will simply not be allowed and will be promptly deleted.
3. Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
Momma likes to say, “Don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you’re not willing to say to their face.” The Internet allows people to throw up cyberspace garbage on your platform’s porch while safely secluded in the shadows of the surrounding hedges. Don’t allow them to utter harsh comments while hiding behind the skirts of anonymity.
4. Don’t feed the trolls.
Trolls live where they are fed. Don’t feed them. Ever. Period.
5. Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
Things getting heated? Step off the field and address individuals directly. Praise in public, rebuke in private.
6. If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
You get what you expect or you get what you accept. Confront bad behavior directly. Don’t let it fester or sit idly hoping it will go away. It won’t. Left unaddressed it will only get worse.
7. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.
Just because someone can’t cyberpunch you in the mouth doesn’t give you free license to let your mouth write checks your derriere can’t cash. If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all.
If we, as a group, can implement these simple tenets in our online interactions, we will take a huge step forward in maintaining the freedom of speech, nurturing a diversity of opinions, and ensuring a discourse marked by civility and respect rather than the hateful, vitriolic venom too often spewed online. It all goes back to adhering to the Golden Rule: Treat people like you would like to be treated.
Remember that we don’t all have to agree on everything, but even in our disagreements, we can still be respectful in our online discussions and honorable in how we treat one another.
Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.