http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9642178

Kathy Sierra was threatened (and feared for her life) after calling for a bloggers code of conduct.  The story is above, but what got me curious was this code of conduct.  I found one such proposed code on Tim O’Reilly’s website.   Take a second to check it out.  I think a self imposed code like this would make the internet a lot friendlier place.  Especially in disagreements.

 1)Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
 2)Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.
 3)Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
 4)Ignore the trolls.
 5)Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
 6)If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
 7)Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.

1)Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
Yes, you own your own words. But you also own the tone that you allow on any blog or forum you control. Part of “owning your own words” is owning the effects of your behavior and the editorial voice you foster. And when things go awry, acknowledge it. There’s an attitude among many bloggers that deleting inflammatory comments is censorship. I think that needs to change. There are many real-world analogies. Shock radio hosts encourage abusive callers; a mainstream talk radio show like NPR’s Talk of the Nation wouldn’t hesitate to cut someone off who started spewing hatred and abuse.  Setting standards for acceptable behavior in a forum you control is conducive to free speech, not damaging to it.  Obviously, there’s a responsibility on the other side for bloggers not to delete comments solely because they express opinions the poster doesn’t agree with.

2)Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.. the idea of sites posting their code of conduct might gain some traction given some easily deployed badges pointing to a common set of guidelines, as Kaylea suggested. But even absent such a mechanism, self-identifying your level of tolerance, as blogher does, seems to me like a really good idea. In the meantime, The BlogHer Community Guidelines are a good place to start.

3)Consider eliminating anonymous comments. When people are anonymous, they will often let themselves say or do things that they would never do when they are identified. There are important contexts in which anonymity is important, for example, for political speech in repressive regimes. But in most contexts, accountability via identity changes how people behave. Requiring a valid email address for comments won’t prevent people who want to hide their identity from doing so, but it’s one more indication that accountability is valued.

4)Ignore the trolls.Sometimes you need to stand up to bullies, but at other times, the best thing to do is to ignore them. As one person advised me long ago when I got in a public tussle with a blog bully, “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.” It’s human nature to flock to controversy. Responding in public to a public attack feeds people who thrive on controversy, substitute abuse for real dialog, and stroke their egos by putting down others.  If someone insults you, that doesn’t mean its a free pass to insult them back.  You still have a choice-You can behave rationally and politely to impolite behavior or you can continue the backslide. 

5)Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.

6)If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.Bringing this back to the level of principle: if you know someone who has anonymously published comments that could be construed as a threat, you owe it to them, to their victim, and to yourself, not to remain silent. If there is no actual threat, you need to convince the perpetrator to apologize; if there is, you need to cooperate with the police to avert that threat.

7)Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.The next time you’re tempted to vent your anger or frustration online, imagine you’re talking to your mother. Or if you have no respect for your mother, imagine you’re talking to a big, mean dude that you met on the street. Or simply imagine the person you’re speaking to as a real person, standing in front of you. Would you say what you’re saying to them if you were in the same room?

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