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Weblog Ethics (There is room for that, eh?)

As an excerpt from a new book on blogging, Rebecca Blood’s Weblog Ethics is certainly timely. Especially given the current recess fighting over “de-publishing”. But more than that, Rebecca’s wisdom rings true as one of the early bloggers (see Rebecca’s Pocket for may more gems) and is sound advice for those new to the blog scene (this cogdog puppy just arrived a few months back).

(A tip of the blog hat to Ten Reasons Why for leading me to this site).

Rebecca’s book along with the recently posted final version of weblog definition by Jill Walker give a more robust picture of the weblog universe.

So peruse the list of concepts for weblog ethics, and absorb them, not as pure truths, but wise advice.

1. Publish as fact only that which you believe to be true.

Of course just about anything on the web can be a lie, but the point here is not to post something as a truth just because you copy-pasted it from another web source. If it might not be true, give it that context.

2. If material exists online, link to it when you reference it.

For all the power of hyperlinking, it is more so under-done than the opposite. Most anything one could write has a likely external reference (if not 1000), so bend your browser over to Google, and link to sources. One do s not need a PhD in Java to write a darned <a href…> tag.

I would also add in weblogs, try and dig to the original source. Many times, one writer blogs on a post seene slewhere, that turns out to be a one lione reference to another blog, and so on. It can take quite a bit to hit the source. And we all want our credit when we deserve it.

3. Publicly corrent any misinformation. and 4. Write each entry as if could not be changed; add to, butg do not rewrite or delete, any entry.

This is the sone of the latest stink about “de-publishing”, where a blog war is raging about revising or re-writing history… because we have the power to back edit.

Rebecca’s advise is not to change a post that was written, but to write an addendum or use the oops <striike> … </striike> tag to denote a change. It is more than a suggestion, it is a stand that a blog writer takes that says, I will stand by what I write and I will correct myself publicly if found to be proven wrong.

I make a point never to post anything I am not willing to stand behind even if I later disagree. I work to be thoughtful and accurate, no matter how angry or excited I am about a particular topic. If I change my opinion in a day or two, I just note the change. If I need to apologize for something I’ve said, I do so.

If you discover that you have posted erroneous information, you must note this publicly on your weblog. Deleting the offending entry will do nothing to correct the misinformation your readers have already absorbed. Taking the additional step of adding a correction to the original entry will ensure that Google broadcasts accurate information into the future.

Gulp.

I have to admit doing a bit of re-writing of posted blog entries, mainly to add more relvant links or thoughts, but mostly to correct my attrocious spelling and horredous typos. I have zero keyboard skills and should not even be allowed near a QWERTY device.

But I get it now. I may correct typos, but any changes in this blog will be addendums (with a date stamp) or otherwise clearly noted as a change from the original.

There are a few more points on Rebecca’s list, so get them all for yourself.

I will add one myself, less an ethical note, but maybe.

I see a fair number of blog entries which are just verbatim lifts of blog posts written elsewhere. If you do this, it becomes less obvious that the material was authored by someone else, especially if presented in the same display style as your own writing.

But worse yet, these blog echo-ers or blog regurgtiators are not adding anything new to the blog universe simply by repeating someone else’s work. They are not adding any new context, meaning, and are just wasting bits in space.

If you blog, add something to the mix, be it commentary, praise, re-buttal, additional information, a sarcastic reply, cheers… just something.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.