Saturday, June 30, 2007

Habits and Rules

In the last couple of years, as political blogging has become steadily more popular, “ethics, ” to do with blogging, has been a recurring topic. Last year Conaway Haskins wrote several thoughtful posts on the direction of political blogging and the possibility of establishing a code, a set of rules that bloggers might promise to abide by. Others have written quite a bit along these lines.

All of which is fine with me. It’s a good thing when people pause to consider what are the right and wrong things to do in connection to any endeavor. But I still question whether a published list of commandments would change the tone of the Virginia political blogosphere all that much. The worst offenders don’t care about rules.

If a person habitually cheats at whatever game they play, no code is going to transform them into an honest blogger. When we bloggers sit down at the keyboard we bring our already established sense of right-and-wrong with us.

If a blogger needs a rule to stop them from contacting a rival blogger’s boss in an effort to get the rival fired, they probably won't follow any rules about common decency in the blogosphere that say don‘t do that. If a blogger needs to be told not to spread false malicious rumors about other bloggers, it’s likely a waste of time telling them not to do it.

If some bloggers enjoy getting their noses out of joint and throwing monkey wrenches at bloggers’ conventions, because they tend to measure their clout by what harm they can do to things others care about -- what they can ruin -- I doubt any rules will change their ways, either. It seems to happen with each such convention.

If a blogger is a bully and lout in real life, they bring that with them, too. If they have tended to lose their temper and call people names in the real world...

Of course if such a person blogs/comments on blogs anonymously, then they might feel free to be even more abusive. So, I do believe that allowing anonymous players to come to the party makes mischief even more likely. Haskins struggled with the question of whether anonymous bloggers could be a part of the Commonwealth Society of Bloggers he proposed establishing.

My take on this front is that leading by setting a good example is the best thing one can do in the long run. There are some smart, talented and honest people publishing political blogs in Virginia. Maybe not as many of them as one might like -- but there are some. They show that they care about their reputations by how they behave.

There are also some people blogging who obviously believe anything they do in pursuit of their agenda is OK. Anything their little squirming-toad minds can think of is alright to do. Anything! Which side of the aisle they’re on doesn’t matter. And, since they could care less about ethics, they won’t be curbed by blogging rules.

Recently, I’ve heard some bewildering stories about blogger bad behavior. Some of it concerns the upcoming Blogs United convention, scheduled to take place July 13th and 14th, in Newport News. So, I want to wind this post up assuring my readers that while I will not be attending that convention, I am not part of any sneaky plot to undermine its success.

My best wishes go out to the organizers of the Blogs United confab. For trying to make the event a bipartisan affair, I salute the convention’s planners. I hope the bloggers who attend will find the time to discuss the time-honored value of leading by setting a good example.


Vivian J. Paige said...

We'll miss you, Terry.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Well said Terry and I'm only sorry I won't get the chance to meet you there.