The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Ms Kathy Sierra, the catalyst for the Blog Code of ConductAs the BBC recently reported, a draft "Blogging Code of Conduct" is being proposed after perceived threats made on a popular blog against US developer, Kathy Sierra. Ms Sierra was threatened on the US blog Creating Passionate Users. The offensive comments (details here) caused Ms Sierra to cancel a personal appearance at the SXSW festival. The main tenet of the proposed code of conduct draft is that :-

  • anonymous blog messaging should be banned;
  • writers must take responsibility for comments as well as content;
  • don't say anything that you wouldn't say in person;
  • users of sites that advocate "open" blogging should be warned on that site's home page before they blunder into the deep and dark abyss that is known as free speech...

Imagine this on the CLUAS homepage...Forgive my facetiousness. But doesn't this remind you of Tipper Gore's anti offensive language campaign in the mid eighties that resulted in the now infamous Parental Advisory Sticker. Recent US albums facing censorship from the sticker included Gwen Stefani's menacing The Sweet Escape and Bloc Party's disturbing Slient Alarm, putting them in the same basket as much more infamous Eminem and Ice-T albums... The mind boggles. 

Clearly the imposition of an unenforceable law that has little or no control and boundaries has a precedence in the US. So should we be worried about the Blogosphere? Or should CLUAS impose its own rules and regulations in an attempt to stamp out a fire before it flames.

Blogs obviously provide a more immediate, and intense, forum for debate. That may mean that fundamental differences come to the fore faster, and nerves are laid bare. The facelessness encourages a lack of control that is less apparent on other media. So what does this mean? To me, the best Blogs exhibit a kind of intense honesty that cannot be seen in the House of Commons or on a newspaper letters page.

I take full responsibility for the content of my Blog. If I am to take further responsibility for the content of the comments on my Blog, my position becomes a lot less tenable. The legal concept of Copyright does not apply (and should never apply) to a Blog so any Code on Conduct could only be a voluntary exercise, right? Even so, we are moving at a pace towards our first legal challenge to the right to reply to a Blog.

Allowing people to vent is, in my opinion, a positive thing. Whether it be that the new Arctic Monkeys is crap or that that Mugabe should be removed forthwith, it's still a valuable opinion. Some people are inherently aggressive, nasty, uncontrolled but I just fail to see how imposed voluntary rules can possibly help - those humane enough to take such rules into account are unlikely to ever sink to the level of abuse in the first place.

CLUAS allows me to choose whether to allow anonymous comments to the Blog (something that differentiates the Blog from the Discussion Board, for example). That is a good thing. Long may it continue.

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Nuggets from our archive

2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.