Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Civility Code

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  • Juha Saarinen,

    To solve this quandary, which I can sense rests heavy on many a fine mind here at PA, I propose the compulsory registration of bloggers within an industry organisation to foster greater professionalism and responsibility.

    It would be paid for by annual fees levied on New Zealand bloggers and run by a board with appointees from various stakeholder organisations, who would elect a steering committee tasked with overseeing the ethics and general direction of New Zealand blogging.

    Despite being exceedingly busy. I am more than happy to do my bit for blogging and throw my hat into the ring to chair such an organisation, in return for a modest attendance fee and business class travel to suitable meeting venues overseas.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The only value I can see in the code of conduct is to save oneself the trouble of writing it. A bit like GNU GPL. But having it tied into some kind of external trademarking thingo sounds like asking to be sued for someone else's actions.

    Russell said:

    "A flame war might be fun now and then, but mostly, it's just tedious. I generally only get angry when someone brings my family into it."

    Heh, I think the only time I've got genuinely angry was when someone on kiwiblog called my views postmodern. The bitterness.

    I do find it strange that SH commenters haven't flooded PA with trolls yet. I notice dad4justice comes here sometimes and is mostly civil, a strange mindfuck since every time I go to kiwiblog the threads are littered with his abuse. I find it hard to believe they're *scared*. Russell, are you censoring a lot?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I do find it strange that SH commenters haven't flooded PA with trolls yet. I notice dad4justice comes here sometimes and is mostly civil, a strange mindfuck since every time I go to kiwiblog the threads are littered with his abuse. I find it hard to believe they're *scared*. Russell, are you censoring a lot?

    Almost never. What seems to be the case is that people, d4j included behave differently here than they do on other sites. Which is nice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Despite being exceedingly busy. I am more than happy to do my bit for blogging and throw my hat into the ring to chair such an organisation, in return for a modest attendance fee and business class travel to suitable meeting venues overseas.

    I'd like to commend Juha in his efforts to monetise the Internet, after all, no one ever got fat eating morality or codes of conduct.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1011 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    Juha, a sterling idea. how shall we elect the board? i propose by recommendation from industry heads and/or local church groups using an STV system. desired outcomes of the board could be collated by referenda then submitted to adjudication by a supra-board, appointed on the recommendation of the general board, with ratification by recognised stakeholders.
    oh what fun we'll have.

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    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.

    I'm assuming that we all sound worse than you anyways.

    And I'm a big fan of the real names on the internet thing, or at the very least having a consistent nickname so that people can take things you say in the context of you.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    i propose by recommendation from industry heads and/or local church groups using an STV system.

    How about good old croneyism, nepotism & bribery? If it's good enough for an august body like the IOC...

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Mahoney,

    "You Own Your Own Words" originated on The Well which didn't (still doesn't?) have anonymous accounts.

    All the accounts on The Well were paid accounts, it was fairly easy to track down who was actually saying what. On yr average WordPress blog it's very very hard if not impossible to prevent people posting anonymously.

    In the context of O'Reilly's Code of Conduct unless you're prepared to vet every post before it appears publically I don't see how you can possibly take responsibility for what appears.

    Since Apr 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Mahoney,

    I second Juha's proposal and would like to nominate myself to the board as well. I believe I am eminently qualified: my slashdot userid is 1882 so I've been trolling, sorry, posting with civility since the 90s.

    Since Apr 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Smith,

    Generally I agree with Russell in that this blog site has a decent 'intellectual tone' about it. I have found views from 'opponents' thoughtful and arresting (in that they make me reconsider my original arguments sometimes!) I also have no problem with a moderator doing what he/she wills with their own site. With 'tone', it's often the age old problem of not seeing someone's tongue in their check sometimes and taking personal offense too quickly.

    Since Jan 2007 • 150 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    I also think I should be on the board, as a woman, and as someone who only uses one troll account and that's on another forum and very very infrequently...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    ooh ooh me too on the board, i forgot to say that part

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Span .,

    I think PA System is a living example of how the conduct of the authors sends a clear message to commenters of what their conduct should be, and thus maintains a largely cordial environment.

    I sense that over the last six months or so, and more since PAS started, there has been some questioning amongst the broader pol bloggers about the value of comments sections that just rapidly descend into madness. Maybe the scene is maturing? I don't really know.

    I've always allowed anonymous comments and I've only ever deleted one (other than spam or doubles of course). I find that occasionally I get a comment (actually more frequently pseudonymous than anon) that's objectionable and I just give them a comment smack back and it doesn't go any further. At this stage I think that's more productive than deletion as it happens rarely and this way I remind everyone what's ok and what's not on my blog, as opposed to only one or two people noticing and having to deal with the stupid cries of "censorship" that result from deleting a comment.

    Readers here may be interested in a discussion had back in Feb about the nature of argument and commenting on the pol blogs, and how some seem to see the comment threads as their own Colosseum for senseless gladiatorial battle.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 112 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I, for one, really like the idea of a code of conduct, just as a little reminder to people that, just because you can't see a person's face, doesn't mean they don't exist. And that you cannot say whatever you like to people, regardless. If you don't like what someone's said, you can ignore it . Don't we all just need to grow up and be more assertive offline, rather than becoming more aggressive online?

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

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

    I think this is a real problem. I don't mind my identity being known to people who ask nicely, but having your life (as expressed in writing on the Internet) available at the click of a mouse is a bit much for me, and I think for others. Besides employers and clients, there is also the growing surveillance society to consider. How long before bodies like customs get a report on their screen as to people's net activity when they arrive in a country? Remember, the US authorities attempted to subpoena Monica Lewinski's bookshop records! Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kramerbooks_&_Afterwords

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5539 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    another problem with RL identification of contributors is the reduction of information. where would journalists be if they had to reveal every source? you might end up with a higher proportion of verifiable information, but there'd also be an awful lot that'd never get said, yes?

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    I think a blogger code of conduct is just a manifestation of what PA seems to have discovered by the bad experiences of others. Civility is something that has to be designed into a forum, be it using a karma-points approach, or, like PA, simply stated from the outset and upheld by the mods. I think the problem that DPF and similar have is that they didn't think a comments policy was necessary, so didn't really consider it until a negative atmosphere had already been established.

    I think the suggested code of conduct is a bit precious. But I also think it's worthwhile step for blutters to devise their own comment policy, based on what they want to achieve, preferably something that's implicitly agreed to when a commenter signs up (in my limited experience retroactive policy just makes trolls more nuts).

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 532 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I subscribe to this code of conduct:

    1) Always try to act like a gentleman [or lady] in social situations.

    I do find it slightly odd that good behaviour needs to be so formalised, in such a small community as this. I think of PAS as like a village; where the unspoken code of conduct is generally enough to maintain standards, which, here, are remarkably high. The obvious high calibre of the fine respondants helps in more ways than one. I get the feeling that the loonies are scared off by such concepts as "valid argument" and "verifiable research", for one. On the very odd occasion that I've seen someone here step over the previously-non-mandated line, a quick wake-up from a fellow commenter or two has always been enough to elicit a retraction, apology, and an 'under-a-lot-of-stress-lately' -type of explanation [which is cool - who among us has never said something immediately regretted?]. [possibly they've also received a "private" reprimand; I don't know].

    Thatcher once famously said that there is no such thing as society, and in the intervening 20 years it seems even more the case, in some ways. Immediately pre-blog-era "social comment" often extended no further than shouting at the television, that famously non-interactive medium. I think some people are still getting used to the idea that the internet is not like that.

    I appreciate being able to comment pseudonomysly. Due to my extremely important position, it means thet I'm able to say things that I couldn't under my offline identity. Nevertheless PAS bosses have the name and address of 3410's human master, should the need for correction arise. I'm proud to say that so far, it has not.

    The rules posted today are all well and good, but aren't they all just an extrapolation of the one line code mentioned at top of this comment?

    *No jokes about me "acting like a lady in social situations", please.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Wot is a "blutter"?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Span, "some seem to see the comment threads as their own Colosseum for senseless gladiatorial battle."

    Yup, or a place for a cheap snack on Christians. Ironically, I would be a Christian in that metaphor.

    I think you're right that it's hard to resist the 'spin defence'. Just because something is spin doesn't mean it's wrong. That's another form of ad hominem. Or is it 'fallacy of affirming the consequent'? Can't remember, doesn't matter.

    I think you're also right that it doesn't mean 'spin' has no meaning. It's just suffered from word-inflation through overuse.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    another problem with RL identification of contributors is the reduction of information. where would journalists be if they had to reveal every source?

    Just let me saddle up my hobby hose... :) I think a better question would be 'where would journalists be if they let themselves be used as a conduit - or should that be a sewer? - for anonymous scumbaggery? My tentative answer: The Herald on Sunday or the Sunday Star-Times?

    While I take your point, and would never claim there's no justification for every giving a source anonymity you can't ignore the other side of the equation. Attribution (which, historically speaking is fairly recent) allows READERS to run a credibility test, however crude, over the person doing the talking. Back in the day, I had to learn the hard way how easy it is to get co-opted into a source's (very hidden) agenda when you're being handed a story that's too good to check. Thankfully, my virgin butt was saved by a pretty sharp editor who who gave me a history lesson, and told me the story wouldn't run without independent and on the record corroboration. I didn't get it because when I did what I should have done in the first place the story didn't stack up.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12363 posts Report Reply

  • Riddley Walker,

    let me saddle up my hobby hose

    that sure is some hobby hose you're flogging

    AKL • Since Feb 2007 • 890 posts Report Reply

  • Juha Saarinen,

    There's an impressive stream, nay, tidal wave of volunteer spirit coming out of this discussion. Is there a pliant and thick, errm, cooperative MP who could help push this through at an official level?

    3410: we are blutters according to Deb Coddington. Blog Nutters, with only ourselves for an audience. I'd wear that badge with great pride actually, unlike Tim O'Reilly's silly and embarrassing sheriff one.

    Since Nov 2006 • 529 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I sense that over the last six months or so, and more since PAS started, there has been some questioning amongst the broader pol bloggers about the value of comments sections that just rapidly descend into madness. Maybe the scene is maturing? I don't really know.

    I've sensed that too, although it seems like tempting fate to claim any credit.

    There was a storm over at Sir Humphreys when AL banned Redbaiter (now there's a troll) for what seemed to me to be eminently justifiable reasons involving defamatory abuse. Lucyna got the pip and went off to start her own blog, but I've always found her very strange anyway.

    SH can be okay when one of the authors actually mulls over an issue, but it's more often stark monochrome and lately it just seems to be Adolf in raging fits of denial about climate change.

    I've enjoyed having the likes of Craig and Graeme Edgeler come over here and argue the toss, I have plenty of time for Peter Cresswell, and I'm grateful we don't see the kind of mass trolling that Jordan gets. It seems to be the Act-aligned kiddies who display the worst behaviour.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22227 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Riddley:

    In the end, it doesn't matter whether you're a blogger or an MSM hack: Your only currency is credibility. Trust. And, sorry, I just have to question who's playing who - and to what end - when we've got another blind story that, it turns out, doesn't add up.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12363 posts Report Reply

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