A couple of leading Internet personalities, including the creator of Wikipedia, have proposed a set of voluntary guidelines to help rein in the nastiness and abuse that can thrive in the blogosphere. Critics say the proposal would limit free expression, while supporters argue that “free speech is enhanced by civility.”
Click here for Arianna Huffington’s take on blog comments and civility.
New York Times:
Chief among the recommendations is that bloggers consider banning anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship.
A recent outbreak of antagonism among several prominent bloggers “gives us an opportunity to change the level of expectations that people have about what’s acceptable online,” said [Tim] O’Reilly, who posted the preliminary recommendations last week on his company blog (radar.oreilly.com). [Jimmy] Wales then put the proposed guidelines on his company’s site (blogging.wikia.com), and is now soliciting comments in the hope of creating consensus around what constitutes civil behavior online.
Mr. O’Reilly and Mr. Wales talk about creating several sets of guidelines for conduct and seals of approval represented by logos. For example, anonymous writing might be acceptable in one set; in another, it would be discouraged. Under a third set of guidelines, bloggers would pledge to get a second source for any gossip or breaking news they write about.
Bloggers could then pick a set of principles and post the corresponding badge on their page, to indicate to readers what kind of behavior and dialogue they will engage in and tolerate. The whole system would be voluntary, relying on the community to police itself.