Friday, August 05, 2005

Weblog Ethics

I've been involved in blogs for a while now. First with Radio Userland and now with Blogspot and frankly, I like it a lot. it's a place to write down your thoughts; a kind of archive. It's very useful for me because as I get older I feel my memory slipping so archiving my thoughts in a blog means I don't accidentally do things twice (HAHA).

For weblog writers, it's important to be aware that we belong to a larger community and with this membership comes some degree of responsibility. Rebecca Blood has a wonderful posting on the Six major themes in Weblog Ethics.

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

This first one is a no brainer. You don't want to be spreading rumours as facts. There's a perception, and rightfully so in the past, that a great deal of information on the Internet is faulty in some way; however, by following this first tenet you can make a contribution towards continuing to reverse this trend.

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

This is critical. What's the difference between a book and the Internet? The links! So link, cross-link and chain-link. It's all good!

3. Publicly correct any misinformation.

This ties back in to the first item. If you can do your part to publicly correct any misinformation you see that is relevant to your blog posting then by all means take the opportunity to do the right thing.

4. Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.

This is one I would have never thought of but it makes sense. The second item in this list talks about linking which is all good until links break or information is displaced. So no deleting stuff! That way the original linking page will continue to link to the relevant information forever thereby strengthening the utility and the credibility of an ever-expanding Internet.

5. Disclose any conflict of interest.

This fifth item is probably the most interesting one. There's a lot of money making schemes on the net and some people have very creative ways to influence others. Similarly, blogging can be used to influence others. Sell software, products, movies even! So in cases like this if you still want to write about your business endeavours then the ethical thing to do is to disclose your conflict of interest.

6. Note questionable and biased sources.

Rebecca caps off her ethics for weblogs by including a sixth item that ties in beautifully with the others. In order to keep your information credible ensure the information you are citing is credible as well. You're only as strong as the weakest link!

What do you think? Is there a place for ethics in blog writing? Click "comment" and let us know.

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