Blogger Civility? One Leading Blogger Offers Standards

Should the blogosphere accept civility standards for itself? On leading blogger, Lisa Stone at BlogHer believes so and is advocating that everyone adopt some rules of their own.

Donnie Fowler
Technology intersects with public policy and American politics in profound and ever-changing ways. Politics, policy, and technology explores this intersection and how it has impacted the government and society in ways that activists, operatives, and observers are just beginning to understand. Donnie Fowler has achieved a leading role in both political and high technology circles through work in Silicon Valley, at the White House and the Federal Communications Commission, and on the ground helping Democratic campaigns in every corner of the nation. Fowler's campaign highlights include service as Al Gore's national field director in 2000 and as a candidate for Democratic National Chairman in 2005, where he finished as the runner-up to Howard Dean. His technology background includes several years as vice president of TechNet, a Silicon Valley-based network of venture capitalists and senior executives.
Donnie Fowler
3 min read
Personal and public civility matters everywhere. It's why you don't burp at the dinner table or take showers in public. It's why you say "please" and "thank you" and, if you're Southern-born like I am, you say "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am" when spoken to by your elders.

The blogosphere is still the wild, wild west, and sometimes personal and public civility don't seem to be part of the new culture. But it's increasingly becoming a part of the self-policing that bloggers are getting better and better at.

Take Lisa Stone of Palo Alto based "BlogHer". She has a mission to establish some basic standards of behavior in the same way that webmasters developed privacy standards as the world wide web began growing by leaps and bounds in the late 90s. Lisa is a journalist and media strategist who has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Oakland Tribune, Publisher's Weekly and Frommer's, among other publications. She spends a lot of time advocating for users.

In a Tuesday (July 10) interview on San Francisco's KQED public radio, Lisa spoke about her desire to see the entire blogosphere, especially the often raucous political segment, agree to a little civility. What does she say on her own site?

We have just two rules: We embrace the spirit of civil disagreement and we decline to publish unacceptable content. Specifically:

* BlogHer embraces the spirit of civil disagreement.
As a Web site devoted to creating an opportunity for all kinds of women bloggers and their friends to seek greater exposure, education and community, we agree to agree and to disagree-as strongly as need be-without crossing the boundaries into unacceptable content (see below).

* BlogHer declines to publish unacceptable content.
Everything published on the BlogHer Network is content: Your posts, comments, forum messages, poll responses, audio, video, text, images, you name it. We embrace your diversity of opinions and values(see above) but we insist that your content may not include anything unacceptable.

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked that is:
o Being used to abuse, harass, stalk or threaten a person or persons

o Libelous, defamatory, knowingly false or misrepresents another person

o Infringes upon any copyright, trademark, trade secret or patent of any third party. (If you quote or excerpt someone's content, it is your responsibility to provide proper attribution to the original author. For a clear definition of proper attribution and fair use, please see The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers at this URL: http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/.)

o Violates any obligation of confidentiality

o Violates the privacy, publicity, moral or any other right of any third party

o Contains editorial content that has been commissioned and paid for by a third party, (either cash or goods in barter), and/or contains paid advertising links and/or SPAM or "Stupid Pointless Annoying Messages." For BlogHer's purposes, we define SPAM as anything that qualifies as nonsense unrelated to the discussion, either in comments on a blog or in our forums. This nonsense may take classic forms (e.g., simple links to unrelated content that are often advertising or e-commerce), or more insidious forms.