...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Day 2293: Chocolate Fireguard


I learn from Mr Jonny that some BIGWIGS off the Internet have said that there must be a CODE OF CONDUCT for bloggers and diarists like ME!

I think that this is a bit RUDE! I do not need someone telling ME what I can and cannot write!

Besides, who could possibly think that a fluffy toy like me could ever be rude to anyone. Well, anyone except Lord Blairimort, that is. He is a twonk! Oops, see!

The whole point of writing a DIARY like mine or like any of the diaries on the Wibbly Wobbly Web is to have your OWN voice and write what you want in your OWN way. And not in some Star-Trek-like “any utopia you like so long as it is OUR utopia” pre-defined voice set out by a tiny group of people from one tiny part of our great big planet.

If you want the great joy of freedom of expression in blogging to be that you can go your own way then OBVIOUSLY you have to let everyone ELSE go their own way too! And that means that you have to put up with the shouty, ranty people too. And the boring people. And the people like Mr Millipede whose diaries are programmed into them every morning by the MASTER COMPUTER.

You do NOT have to put up with them in YOUR OWN space – if you do not like what they say then you can always DELETE their comments. I often have to ask Daddy to nuke comments when some SPAM-MERCHANT sticks an ANNOYING ADVERT on my diary.

So, what are we supposed to sign up for if we want to be good little members of the United Federation of Planets?

  1. We take responsibility for our own words and the for the comments we allow
  2. We won’t say anything online that we wouldn’t say in person
  3. We connect privately before we respond publicly
  4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action
  5. We do not allow anonymous comments
  6. We ignore trolls
You know, that wouldn’t all be TOO BAD, at least not if it was a PERSONAL statement of one person’s rules for their own diary.

But as a set of universal rules, isn’t it just a bit, well, sweeping?

Let’s just ignore that point three is just MANAGEMENT SPEAK for “we try to take the conversation off-line and into the real world” (never mind HOW you guarantee to contact someone before you lay into them: should I be checking in with Lord B before I say something about him EVERY TIME? Would slow things down just a TAD do you not theink? And at the other end of the scale, not EVERY blog has a contact e-mail on it you know. And contacting someone before you make a harsh point may make you feel like a big grown up newspaper, but it also kills stone dead the idea that comments are a “conversation” between the diarist and the reader, and makes it just “letters to the editor”.) So let’s just ignore and skip to the good stuff.

An earlier version of point four was “if you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so” which is actually MUCH BETTER, because it is about promoting good behaviour to your FRIENDS, and it is about suggesting and informing, not ENFORCING. The phrase “we believe someone is unfairly attacking another” does not just cover SOMEONES that we are friends with, i.e. people who might value our advice or our opinion of them and their behaviour – it just means anyone we take a dislike to. Yes, that could be someone who is issuing death threats. But it could be “someone who once looked at me funny”. And “we take action” isn’t just restricted to having a QUIET WORD… it could be anything up to starting a full on flame war. Or, if you are the Monkey-in-Chief, starting an ACTUAL war.

Point two is just silly. I say LOTS of things online that I would not say in person. This is because I am TOO SHY. (And NOT because I am too short to be seen over the podium at Liberal Democrat conference!) The Wibbly Wobbly Web gives us a lot of freedom to speak that we have not been used to. In some countries it is the ONLY freedom of speech that they can have, and anonymity is a great BOON to them.

And points five and six are trivial. And essentially the SAME point, since who is a “troll” is often in the eye of the beholder. Find what works for you. Accept comments or do not accept comments. Accept anonymous comments or require registration. Let anyone say anything or delete things you don’t like. I would recommend a bit of honesty – like not deleting all the comments except the ones that say how LOVELY you are – but I am not going to put my fluffy foot down about it. Remember, if you DO delete all the comments except the ones saying how lovely you are, people will soon notice and you may get a different reputation than “lovely” for it.

But of course they are also really just the same point as point one, or the second part of it anyway.

Taking responsibility for our own words is WISE. We should all know that saying things has consequences – in fact a lot of the time we would not say them if we did not think that SOMEONE would be changed just a little bit by reading them. Made happier, made angrier, made to think just a little bit. Some words are made to hurt or to harm too.

I LOVE the badges though. That is “love” in the IRONIC sense – I mean how patronising are THESE?

We are nice...
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...and we are nasty
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But to say we must take responsibility for ALL the comments. And that “we allow” – how very THOUGHT POLICE. I am quite lucky because I do not get too many comments for me to read all of them. But do you REALLY believe that someone like Mr Dale Winton should put up his hand to take responsibility for ALL of the comments that get posted on his diary?

(I mean, personally, I would not like to put up a fluffy foot to be responsible for some of the DIARY ENTRIES that he makes, but that is just me!)

If you want to be able to debate ideas you are going to HAVE to allow opposing ideas in your comments, and to take responsibility for those ideas would be, er, a bit schizophrenic at least.

It is all about BLANDIFYING the Wibbly Wobbly Web.

We have only HAD the Internet for a few years now, and we are still finding out about all the new ways that we can interact. We have to get used to each other in a whole load of new ways – and sometimes we just can’t, or aren’t ready to yet. It’s no good glossing over that, trying to hide it behind NET CURTAINS.

There ARE horrid things out there, and horrid people. But – like Doctor Who says – there is so much more than that, so much wilder, so much madder, and so much better.

What we need is to just keep doing it, writing our diaries and our comments and plugging away, knocking the rough edges off each other until we do figure out how to get along. Each of us in our own way.

Enjoy the liberty.


Read this while you are at it!

1 comment:

Jonny Wright said...

Thanks for the plug, Millennium!

I think you've got it spot on. A lot of the "code" is fairly silly, or even completely irrelevant - and you've pretty comprehensively explained why!

I reckon it's best just to behave well yourself, and if other people behave badly, well they're just making themselves look bad.

The icons are hilarious!

(I don't think there's anything wrong with icons in principle. Having an icon is no different to having your own personal set of rules, and advertising to let people know what they are. But these ones are not only very patronising, but also extremely America-centric.)