Tim O’Reilly, owner of O’Reilly Media, recently proposed a blogging code of conduct in light of recent threats against blogger Kathy Sierra and the ensuing controversy that arose around the discussion of those threats.
While this is obviously a move born of positive intentions, I think that a blogging code of conduct is a terribly misguided idea.
Clearly, a community such as the blogosphere does not condone terrifying threats: the outpouring of support for Kathy Sierra demonstrated that fact. In addition, the blogosphere is also regarded, I believe rightly so, as a community willing and often able to commit acts of self-reflection, analysis, and adjustment. In that context, it’s difficult to see how any kind of codification could serve to do anything beyond artificially limit and stifle speech and the interactions that arise from it.
In short, what we have is a community fully adept at policing itself, the positive and group-building effects of which are infinitely more powerful than any kind of codification could hope to be.
If you need a code to interact from, define one for yourself, and by all means live by it– heck, even publicize for your readers to consider. And if it’s in line with norms, or catches on (lord knows the blogosphere is nothing if not self-policing…and trend happy), who knows? Maybe your code will be adopted informally, organically, subconsciously, where it might, just might, have a positive impact. Anything less natural is destined to fail, and by its definition limit our collective speech in the process.