Blogging Ethics Recommendations

Blogging ethics is a tricky situation because there are so many different types of blogs, and to make recommendations for it is difficult due to the differences in cultures, national laws and global perspectives.  It would be hard to police blogs, and to make sure that everyone is following the rules, especially since the rules change based on where you live.  See China’s example of firewalling digital content that doesn’t fall within its rules, and consider whether it is worth curtailing 1st amendment rights in the U.S. in order to regulate blogs.  So with that mind, I believe that regulations are not the complete answer, but self-regulation should be the focus of blogging ethics.

Blogs are very much a self-regulating tool, especially with the integration of social networking tools.  When blogging first started, it was hard to get people to read a blog because most people were not experts, they wrote for themselves or even for a community, and eventually became experts in their topic as time went on and their blog gained a readership.  Now it is easier to share your blog with other people through multiple types of tools, digg, delicious (linking to interesting articles), facebook, myspace, and twitter (share blogs or blog posts with friends – and they also include free blogging tools as well), as well as the typical route, linking to blog directories, using SEO tactics in order to increase their Google rank.  Now people are more used to working with blogs, and also regulating content through commentary.  If someone makes a mistake in a blog, someone typically catches it and lets the blog owner know about it through comments, or even through their own blog.  Big mistakes in the news are typically noticed right away because of the number of readers, and since a blog is easily updated, bloggers typically fix any errors right away or they will lose some credibility.

I recommend that bloggers consider the Code of Ethics as a starting point for where they want to set their blogging ethics.  By doing this, we can avoid adding laws into the mix. At this point we are starting to learn more about privacy issues and how they can affect our personal as well as our jobs, and blogging will have to take these lessons learned from social networking and apply them to how we blog.  Personally I am learning that I cannot be as open as I used to be in my initial years of blogging.  Although I do not have the type of readership that most bloggers have, I still see ramifications in my work and personal life when I blog, even though I do not focus my efforts on writing about anything other than schoolwork and my own personal life.  In addition, I’ve also learned that I have to be more careful about what I write about, and if I’m going to use sources, I must be vigilant in how I identify them, as well as being socially responsible about my linking policy.  The last thing I learned is that transparency is the most important part of blogging, and will help me stay true to my own blogging ethics.

Here is a revised list of what I plan to use as my Ethical Blogging Code, which is from Cyberjournalist’s list of “A Blogger’s Code of Ethics”

  • Identify my sources for articles, pictures, etc.
  • Do not misrepresent myself or other people
  • Distinguish between facts and opinion (even though this is a commentary/personal blog)
  • Do not harm others (I don’t share people’s information online and I’m working on not using real names when I write about other people)
  • Be compassionate (Even when I’m angry)
  • Be transparent (if I make money, if I got something for free, etc)
  • Fix my mistakes (admit them too)
  • Do not ban people because of drama/disagreements etc. (I haven’t had to block anyone before, but I’m considering using WordPress’s user signup in order to add some accountability)

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