Monday, April 9, 2007

Fear And Loathing In The Blogosphere

Yes, Kathy Sierra should be able to post without being harassed. Yes, this is about more than one individual being stalked - it's about preventing vicious, illegal gender harassment.

No, Tim O'Reilly's proposed blogger code of ethics does not make a damn bit of sense.

I am not taking responsibility for the comments people leave in my blogs. I will allow anonymous comments. And I think the whole idea is silly and totally inappropriate.

The appropriate response is to go after Kathy's harassers and subject them to the criminal penalties they have already earned themselves by breaking the law. We already have cops to take care of this thing. That's what they're for.

I don't know if Tim O'Reilly's on some kind of power trip, or freaking out due to panic, or what, but his proposed code is just twenty different kinds of wrong. First, blogging as a community is too diverse for the code ever to reach critical mass. Most bloggers will never even hear about it. Second, what Kathy's harassers did is already in violation of the law, and when systems exist to handle problems, creating new systems to handle the same problem is redundant -- and additionally useless, when you consider that a voluntary code of conduct is a toothless system compared to a system which subjects harassers to legal penalties, including the possibility of jail time. What Tim's proposing is not even a failover system, it's just a totally meaningless add-on. It's like adding lines of code which increment a variable to a program that already works, and then not even doing anything with the incremented variable. It's busywork.

You can't fault him for wanting to help one of his writers, and you can't fault anyone for wanting to be sure things like that never happen, but the proposed solution is so utterly unrealistic that it shouldn't be considered anything but a display of emotion. Can't fault the emotion itself, but when he calms down a little, I think even Tim will see how ridiculous his suggestion is.


  1. Next they'll be having a KathyAID concert. Please, people, develop a sense of proportion.

  2. I don't really think it's necessarily over-reaction. I definitely think people should back her up. It's just, if what you have is criminal behavior, how is a code of ethics going to make any difference? They got the cops investigating it as a death threat. If people are willing to break the law, they won't draw the line at violating Tim O'Reilly's voluntary code of ethics.

  3. I disagree with The Blogger Code Of Ethics, right down to "Don't feed the trolls". Every blogger has his or her own way of handling things, and I appreciate the variety in approaches. For example, in a comment to comic, someone asserted that everything written by the author in ColdFusion was a kludge and that the author wasn't doing real web development. This is totally bogus, as it can be seen by reading some of the author's posts, even without looking at the ColdFusion code, that the he has a firm grasp on things like pagination, timeouts, and client-side scripting.

    However, rather than ignore the post, the author gave a well-thought response. If the troll read and thought about the response, he may have realized that he has a bias against ColdFusion and is unfairly judging the guy. Who knows, maybe you can teach a troll once in a while. Why have a universal rule that you don't even bother trying?

    The great thing about blogging is that everyone is free to start a blog and do everything the way they want, and everyone with an Internet connection can read any public blog.


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