Sigh. Front page of the New York Times yesterday: A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs.
I have tons of respect for Tim O’Reilly and I know the intentions here are good, but do we really need a policy document to tell us that death threats are bad? Do we need a manifesto to tell us that we have the right to restrict nasty comments on our own blogs? What will this code actually do anyway?
I hate the idea of an FCC-like mob of nannies determining which word are acceptable (see George Carlin). This document certainly isn’t that bad, but it’s a step in that direction.
Let’s rely on common sense instead of a code. Blog owners shouldn’t be held responsible for content written by site visitors. Blog owners should decide on their own which comments are acceptable or not. Let people post whatever they want and let blog owners delete whatever they want. If you don’t like that someone is deleting your comment, you can start your own site complaining about how that blog is suppressing you. If you don’t like what someone allows at his/her blog, don’t read it.
The web forces us to confront some ugly truths. We see humanity as it really is, good and bad. The same thing that makes the web wonderful is, occasionally, what makes it terrible. That’s the tradeoff we agree to when we get on this ride. And it’s worth it.
It’s like living in a city. You deal with a loss in civility. (Any girl who walks around NYC hears more offensive comments in a day than most bloggers hear in a lifetime). But in exchange you get the wonder of being in a thriving metropolis. The culture, the diversity, the excitement, the energy, and the vitality. Let’s not all move into a gated community just because there are a few bad apples around.