Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Civility Code

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  • David Cormack,

    *sigh* I don't know why I bother but I try and I try to keep my arguments civil in Kiwiblog but for some reason someone always wades in with abuse. As though this somehow proves their cause.

    I don't think a code of conduct will count for anything though, those who already follow polite guidelines will say "yeah sure why not" and those who do not will just continue on their merry way with a "you can't tell me what to do, this is a left wing conspiracy put forward by *insert hilarious Labour misspelling here* and Klarkkk.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    5. We do not allow anonymous comments.

    We require commenters to supply a valid email address before they can post, though we allow commenters to identify themselves with an alias, rather than their real name.

    Meh... As I said on another thread, if I start blogging again I'm going to try an experiment: All comments will be moderated, and I'll require all commentators to identify themselves on exactly the same basis as the letters column to a newspaper. You provide your full name, a verifiable street address and phone number (strictly not for publication), and I'll withhold your name only if you give me a very, very good reason to do so.

    Might be interesting to see how that works out...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Hamish.MacEwan,

    I'm just not sure I need to sign up to a highly procedural "code of conduct" to assert that right.

    My feeling about this latest code is about informing participants than justifying assertions by operators, ie there is no need at all, but if you do, you are then bound to implement the procedure.

    And one thing that critics and praisers of Tim & Jim's announcement alike miss is that they also offer

    an "anything goes" badge for sites that want to warn possible commenters that they are entering a free-for-all zone.

    The problem seems to be the interpretation of a Code of Conduct as an imposition, rather than merely an optional piece of consumer information.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    For the PA type of "political + misc blog wiv comments" I like the idea of real names. At some point you have to take personal responsibility for your views, if they are political and not, um less serious, like this*



    * I spent a few minutes reading the discussion tab of this link last weekend. It is surprisingly bitter.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    "Blog comments would certainly be different if people had to speak the words they write to someone's face. "

    You mean you don't? :)

    BLUTTERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE AND TAKE OVER!

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It seems to me that the 'code of conduct' is nothing more than a set of rules which people are agreeing to follow.

    All most people do is turn that around and say "these are the rules which you're expected to follow when you're on my/this site", because the chances of getting people to agree to following a code voluntarily is slim, whereas if the moderator follows it then they push everyone else into following it through their moderation. Russell's obviously doing something similar, except the rules aren't explicitly posted as far as I can tell.

    For 'the blogosphere' to get up in arms because someone has decided to write them down and ask people to sign up to them is a little silly really. If the sites are already moderated then it's not exactly a big step to give people the rules and say "hey, follow this or we'll step in".

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    tried floating this idea myself, but realised that it's a pretty empty way to indicate civility on a site.

    for instance, if you're a david farrar you post stuff that is (mostly) not offensive, and it's your commenters who are lunatics. but, because a part of your income or reputation is tied to perceptions of the site, you'll use the sheriff badge regardless of whether you're able to regulate the comments or not. why?

    regulate the loonies? loose traffic, maybe pick up other traffic.
    put up sheriffs badge? keep traffic, and lure unsuspecting browsers in to inflate traffic figures further.

    personally, i'd just whack the badge on and then not regulate my traffic. hell, who's going to enforce the badge? right?

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I'm a big fan of user-moderation - when you first look at the comments threads in slashdot they look like a debate between the hundred smartest people on earth. It's not until you take off the filters that you realise the thread is filled with thousands of idiots screaming abuse at each other.

    I don't think Public Address needs such a system at this point in it's lifecycle - everyone seems pretty civil.

    And while we're talking about blog comments, do any other Sir Humphreys fans remember their constant demands that Russell get a comments system set up so that he could be 'held accountable for his lies'? Notice how their silence on Public Address System has been deafening?

    And why does Jordan Carter even bother with a comments system?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I have also discovered that most such people change their tone even after the fairly abstracted personal contact of an email reply

    I've found this too. Maybe a personal conversation starts to form a relationship, which in turn brings on civility.

    But I've also had the opposite happen. I once was shocked to see some fanmail I sent to a blogger somehow ended up horribly offending her, and all attempts to explain my intentions just seemed to anger her even more. Oh dear.

    And on the subject of anonymous comments, if anyone comments anonymously in my LJ, I'll read what they have to say, but I won't really absorb it. Even a pseudonym gives a bit of context and background that an IP address can't.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    Notice how their silence on Public Address System has been deafening?

    this has not been lost on me. some silences are golden.

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • reece palmer,

    I like Craigs idea, if you really believe in what you're saying and IMO if you don't you should just shut up, you won't have a problem with providing some means of contact for rebuttal (or if he really doesn't like you he could send the boys round). people are way to ready to say the most hateful misguided things under the guise of a pseudonym. Much respect to those P.A's who use their real name.

    the terraces • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    Some showers are too, but of what we don't know, we must not speak. There are some limits of language for which we must be grateful.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Hamboy,

    Notice how their silence on Public Address System has been deafening?

    This has been mentioned before. I'm still convinced the word 'Discuss (on the link to here) confuses them.
    Perhaps Russell could make them happy by putting a link, called Comments, that sends them the Kiwiblog comments page. lol

    I don't have a problem with using my real name on here. There only issue I could think of is the boss seeing my comments here and realise how much work time I waste. lol
    I just use the hamboy login out of habit. Used for all the other sites that demand a username. I have a bad memory.
    Though one day I will get around creating a new log on under my own name.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 162 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Very good point Hamboy. Plus people may google search you if apply for jobs or email them out of the blue.

    For example, I had a guy email my site and ask to use some content i'd written for his class (he was a teacher). I thought he was kidding (it was a very silly piece of content) so I did a search on his name and found out he was genuine, hell, I even know what he is paid (since his school publishes such detail in annual meetings).

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    You do Karate Party Ben? I write reviews for that site via Noor and Roger.

    Crazy small world.

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Mahoney,

    O'Reilly lost me with the first one. It's ridiculous to think that the "owner" or moderator of a site is responsible for the comments on it. There have been some terrible comments/fights/attacks on sites that I've helped run and I'd hate to think that people consider me responsible for them.

    Also, the badges are dumb.

    Since Apr 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    As a Grrrrl blogger, and just for balance, I can't say I feel I've ever been attacked just for being female. But then, I'm persistently mistaken for a man online. This is particularly hysterical when I'm accused of sodomy.

    I like the idea of a free for all badge. Let 'em fly it with pride. But people work out pretty quickly what the environment at a particular site is like, and make choices. I'm big on people making their own choices about their net participation. The Erotica section at BW has a post entitled 'What should I do if I find some content objectionable?'. The first words are 'In the top right-hand corner of your screen, you should see a small x..."

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Roger and I started the site two years back or so.

    I should have made the connection, can't be too many David Cormacks about in Wellington

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Petra Jane,

    Err...what do they really think this Code of Conduct is going to achieve, and how?

    Will it act as a daily reminder to take a deep breath before stepping into a flamewar? History suggests otherwise intelligent, conscientious internet users haven't yet mastered that art. Will it make anonymous shit-stirrers front up and take responsibility for deliberately provocative remarks? Not when anyone can sign up for a free gmail address. Will the fringe-dwelling scaries use it to justify purging dissenting comments? Quite possibly.

    Chris Locke's response made one good point: You Own Your Own Words. I'd much rather advocate that maxim, than this Code of Conduct. It can't exactly be enforced, but really...neither can O'Reilly and Wales' waffly playground rules.

    Mount Eden • Since Jan 2007 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • David Cormack,

    There are 63

    Suburbia, Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report Reply

  • Hamboy,

    Plus people may google search you if apply for jobs or email them out of the blue.

    Forgot about that. My contract is finishing soon and I have started looking for work again.
    Anyone looking for a C++/C# programmer? lol
    Do have 6 years of Hardware Compliance experience, but that type of work sux a**.
    All the google searches I have done on my name only bring up family trees. (Don't say you haven't googled your own name too. lol). Perhaps I should just us my real name for truely inspired comments. (Meaning you will probably never see it.)

    So that explains your comments about pirates.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 162 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    Craig,

    I think that would be a really interesting idea too. I've often read through the - almost always terrible - comment threads at Comment is Free and wondered why the Guardian didn't try and reflect their letters' page policy on anonymity. (Presumably the time involved, I guess).

    Danyl,

    What do you mean? Jordan's comment threads remain some of the best advertisements for the Labour Party on the internet (or, at least, some of the best reasons why you wouldn't want to see the other mob get into power) :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    O'Reilly lost me with the first one. It's ridiculous to think that the "owner" or moderator of a site is responsible for the comments on it.

    At the risk of sounding snarky, I bet Howell Raines and Piers Morgan were saying the same thing until they were fired. Since DPF has been brought up, I've said both publicly and privately that he puts up with more crap from nutsacks and flame-trolls (both of the loony left and rabid right) than I would. That's his call, but he's got to accept the consequences.

    In the end, all any blogger or bulletin board has to trade on is their credibility and their ability to attract eyeballs. You want to run an on-line psych ward, so be it. But what you can't do and retain any credibility in my book is say it's got nothing to do with you. I'll call bullshit on anyone who trots out that weasel argument, on-line or dead tree media.

    Speaking for myself, I can make a fool of myself without any outside assistance. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    It's my site and I know what kind of environment I want it to be

    and i'm happy with that and the results its produced so far

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    At the risk of sounding snarky, I bet Howell Raines and Piers Morgan were saying the same thing until they were fired.

    In a specifically New Zealand context, arguing that your commenters own their own words isn't likely to get you far either. People running online forums have fewer legal protections in that regard than those in the US or the UK. Which is one reason big media has been so slow to launch real forums.

    Since DPF has been brought up, I've said both publicly and privately that he puts up with more crap from nutsacks and flame-trolls (both of the loony left and rabid right) than I would. That's his call, but he's got to accept the consequences.

    In the end, all any blogger or bulletin board has to trade on is their credibility and their ability to attract eyeballs. You want to run an on-line psych ward, so be it. But what you can't do and retain any credibility in my book is say it's got nothing to do with you. I'll call bullshit on anyone who trots out that weasel argument, on-line or dead tree media.

    I'm actually feeling a bit sorry for David - as someone else noted, sometimes it seems like all that's left is the same people having basically the same shouting match every day. It's quite hard to find a sensible discussion. But he indulged it (and occasionally encouraged it) for too long and now it looks quite hard to turn around.

    Speaking for myself, I can make a fool of myself without any outside assistance. :)

    Oh God, I've just had the misfortune of listening to myself speaking into a microphone near the end of a long night with the Wellingtonista. And you think you sound silly ...

    WRT the code of conduct , I think what I was trying to say this morning was that a prescriptive code like that doesn't really work for me -- like I'm actually going to ban someone for trademark infringement, FFS -- and I'm better off simply knowing what I want, and to the best that I can gauge it, what the community wants. I'm not much bothered about swear-words, for instance, but boneheaded sexism will at least score you a warning.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

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