Blogher Founders Elisa Camahort, Jory Des Jardins, and Lisa Stone Bring Order to the Chaos

by Marianne Richmond on April 9, 2007

“Any community that does not make it clear what they are doing, why they are doing it and who is welcome to join the conversation is at risk of finding it difficult to help guide the conversation later” Lisa Stone in todays New York Times.

In the midst of the Kathy Sierra dust-up (I have yet to find my own word for exactly what “it” was) finger pointing, and calls for guidelines there were several fingers being pointed to the fact that despite the outward appearances of the moment, some thought has been given to the subject of acceptable and unacceptable blog conversation.

Although, some sought to tar Blogher with the brush of responsibility, Lisa Stone wrote a powerful response to the issue of cyberstalking which included excerpts from the Blogher Community Guidelines.

The New York Times article asks the questions: “Is it too late to bring civility to ther Web?” They note that Tim O’Reilly and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia are in the process of creating guidelines for conduct and civil behavior online.

I will state that I find a certain irony to the fact that in my observation, the rules of what is defined as acceptable engagement offline, and on the air keep becoming less and less civil…


As Tim O’Reilly said in the NYT article, “Free Speech is enhanced by civility”;  perhaps we should add online and offline….but not to digress.

The Blogher guidelines demonstrate that a community can set its own standards of acceptable behavior….and likewise on one’s own blog, you can state your own definition of civility,  abide by it with your own example, and not tolerate exceptions. You can also decide who you are going to link to, put on your blogroll or otherwise hang out with….usually people that fit your definition of civility.

I am not sure that translates to the blogoshere at large and I think the blog buttons for good behavior, what Jeff Jarvis calls Twinkie badges are just that….not really anything.

Like Rex Hammock…..and I love his visual I am all for civility BUT I woud prefer to set my own defintition. I agree with Jeff Jarvis, we don’t need to be lectured.

There is not just one blogosphere…there are many. Some bloggers crossover into other blogospheres and move betwen them; some do not. There are some things that are considered basics: transparency, authenticity, and honesty but the blogosphere “self corrects”  If there was such a thing as a universal bloger code of ethics, how would it be enforced and by whom….can you be kicked out of the blogosphere for being “uncivil?”

Idil Cakim states that trust is a central issue of the blogosphere and goes on to say that a code of conduct badge would become a kind of Better Business Bureau endorsement for the trustworthiness of the site. I would agree that trust is a central issue but don’t really see the dots that connect the badge to trust.

Now, the death threats and harassment…different can or worms and that should be “policed”. And communities should look at Blogher’s example of how to set guidelines . We should set them in some manner, either by example or by statements on our own blogs.

But the trolls and stalkers live outside of the world of civility….the New York Times seems to imply that the blogosphere is an uncivil, nasty place that needs a written code of conduct. I beg to differ.

The blogosphere is inhabited by the same people that inhabit planet earth…those who live within the rules and those that live outside. The chaos of the past several weeks was not brought about by lack of codes of conduct but by those who live outside of codes stalking those who live within…and then the sound of a thousand fingers pointing, “He/She went thataway.”

Kudos to Elisa, Jory, and Lisa for building a community from the foundation up and for providing thoughtful voices and examples in the midst of who did it and ran.

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