August 6, 2003

Ethics? We don't need no stinkin' ethics

I just finished reading Justine's post about the unwritten rules of blogging, and felt the need to voice my opinion (of course). Here are her rules (abridged, go here to read the complete post):
Rule #1. Don't talk about fight club Link to your sources.
Rule #2. Don't edit your posts, only update.

Whew! Such an exhausting list! A few of her readers go on to add such rules as always perform "Hat-tipping", while others go on to lament that bloggers don't need any rules.

Here's my opinion, feel free to disagree: Blogging is a free society, with no authoritative powers. Thus, there can be no true rules, written or unwritten, but merely guidelines that bloggers can choose to follow. Those choosing to ignore the guidelines risk ridicule, loss of readership, and loss of referrals, but not loss of their privilege (dare I say, their right?) to blog.

My personal guidelines:
1. Link to your sources. This may or may not include hat-tipping. If you see a post on another blog that links to a popular post elsewhere, or a widely known news source, linking directly to the source is ok. If someone links to a post on boing-boing, the NY Times, or yahoo, you may directly link to their source. If it's a little known source, give credit where it's due for the research involved in finding it.
2. Don't steal. This includes plagiarism. Also, do not take an entire post, even if you're linking to it. Take only a fraction, and let your readers link to the original content if they seek more.
3. Say something. No one likes links that say "Click Here!" or "This is funny" (unless it is meant to be a surprise). Try adding something of value, or at least give a summary of why readers should click.
4. Don't alter the message of a post. It's fine to edit a post for clarity, syntax, length, or humor, but do not change the meaning of your message. If you are mistaken or wrong, be a man (or woman), admit it in an update, apologize if neccesary, and move on.
5. All links not safe for work (NSFW - now you know what it means) should be posted as such.

Now that I think about it, there's not a whole lot to this. I'll keep you updated if/when Justine expands on her idea, though. Remember, in the words of the immortal Dr. Venkman (Ghostbuster extrodinaire), "it's actually more of a guideline than a rule", so don't complain when I break 'em.

On my blog, I blogged about bloggers blogging about the rules of blogs. [15:20]  [ ]