Blog Ethics

Thoughtful piece on weblog ethics over at Jonathon Delacour‘s blog. It made me realize that I haven’t explicitly stated my blogging policies, though I’ve been operating with them for years now.

  1. This blog’s territory is what I think about nearly every facet of my life. The nearly part is important because those are the parts that matter most to me and I am very private about. I will not talk about the people in my life except as actors in events that I will blog. I will not share details about the events in their lives except in a general, anonymous way unless they want to tell the world for some reason.

    I will not discuss my sex life, my romantic life, or my feelings for my wife except and unless there is a relevant link and the commentary is of a general nature.

    I will not discuss my work environment except in the most general terms. I will not discuss my thoughts on my co-workers, my thoughts on my boss, or my thoughts about my company’s strategy. These things are not made for general consumption and I do not want to jeopardize my job or my company’s standing by trading in such things. I will, of course, discuss specific issues I surmount while developing or general events that are important personally like promotions, training, or termination.

    I will not discuss my children in this blog. I’ve registered the domain FourBrowns.com specifically for that purpose. If something is especially noteworthy or significant, I may use an entry for that or I may use it as context for not blogging.

    Anything else is fair game. I will try to maintain a balance between Macintosh issues, politics, blogging, humor, development, metasite issues, and personal matters. I reserve the right to post on any topic though, even if it seems completely out of character.

  2. Quick links with little commentary go in Found on the Web.
  3. I will never edit or delete the contents of a blog except to possibly hyperlink something that wasn’t hyperlinked or change a hyperlink if it’s succumbed to link rot. I will add to entries by tacking on a passage clearly demarcated with “[UPDATE (xx/xx/xx): ]” If I do not have time to thouroughly put down my thoughts, I will put a temporary placeholder in that will be removed when I do have time.

    The content equivalent of link rot is revision. I find it deplorable that people would be willing to revise their entries after publishing. Revision is supposed to occur prior to publication. If you revise and don’t indicate that you have done so, then you have committed a grievous injustice on your readers. You have betrayed their trust because they take what they read at face value and would treat the knowledge differently if they knew that it was in flux.

    I am largely what I write. What does it say about me to you if I go back and change what I write? It’s akin to altering your past when telling a friend about your life. You know you did it, but they don’t. If they find out that you’ve altered the details, they’ll either demand an explanation or start the seeds of distrust in their minds. The latter is more likely and distrust is anathema to the writer. Why would you even chance sowing distrust?

  4. I generally do not provide links to sites where I found my links. They probably found those links at other sites that found those links at other sites and so on. The reader probably does not care and I would rather use my time creating entries than tracking down the path a particular link wended its way to my blog.

    Ideas, on the other hand, are freely credited. You can assume that any uncredited content is my own handiwork, though it is a stretch to say that it is uninfluenced by others. I have well integrated Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism into my life and her ideas inform virtually all of my content.

    If you want to see where I visit, your best bet is to stand over my shoulder as I peruse the Web throughout the day. The bookmarks area of my site is but a general guide and doesn’t reflect my actual travels, though I would certainly love it if it could.

  5. If I find out I am mistaken on an issue, I will add an “[UPDATE” to the entry no matter how far past the entry is. I am fallible and often jump to conclusions too quickly. I’m big enough to admit my mistakes and missteps no matter how embarassing they might be.

  6. I will only delete comments when they are offtopic, spam, or abusive. Someone posted a comment recently that read “You are such a fag.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I didn’t see how that furthered discussion one iota so I deleted it.

[UPDATE: Brian Carnell has an interesting twist on the perniciousness of revising your past: people could attribute things to you and suggest that you deleted them in a revision with impunity. You wouldn’t have a leg on which to deny it. Those that know you might think it an out-of-character statement, but those that don’t would only have your word to suggest that you never said it. After destroying your credibility, your word’s value approaches zero. That’s the power of trust betrayal: your enemies, if you have any, can use it against you.]

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