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The Agents of Normalcy and Entrenchment

by Colin Rule
April 2007

From Colin Rule's blog.

Colin Rule

Interesting backlash to the O'Reilly's Blogger Code of Conduct. Nate Anderson on Ars Technica talking about "the tyranny of good intentions":

"Tim O'Reilly wants to bring... civil back, and he’s doing it by launching a voluntary new code of conduct that is bound to kick up a bit of controversy. Commenters to O'Reilly's blog have already called the plan something that "reeks of prohibition and candlelight marches," and an example of "the agents of normalcy and entrenchment subconsciously attempting to organize, dictate, tame and pacify." {...}

"...suggesting that all bloggers voluntarily follow this single set of guidelines seems both impractical and unneccesary. The Internet is so vast and people so diverse that a single standard for all of them is unworkable. As noted above, plenty of people would in fact make all sorts of abusive , libelous, or ad hominem statements in person. People differ on determining when an attack on another person is "unfair," or even "threatening." Plenty of web users have a libertarian ethos and might object to posts being censored to fit someone's notion of civility, and they might see profanity, abuse, and ad hominem attacks as a simple part of the normal give-and-take of any heated discussion. Anonymous posts might be necessary on sites dealing with sensitive political topics, especially in countries where repression is a real concern. Talking privately goes against the whole purpose of a blog, which is essentially a public conversation; while encouraging those with disagreements to talk to each other might be a good policy, many communities would like to see this happen publicly so that the community is involved (and is a witness to) such a discussion.

A blogging code of conduct, so long as it is voluntary, is a fine idea, but bloggers worldwide might be better served by many codes of conduct that are tailored to particular circumstances and communities. Attempts at separating the sheep from the goats online can unfairly stigmatize those who don't accept the code wholesale, but who might still run successful, vibrant, and responsible communities. More important than subscribing to a particular code of conduct is crafting one that works with your site, that is made public, and that is enforced."

Biography


Colin Rule has worked at the intersection of technology and conflict resolution for the last two decades. He is CEO of Modria.com, an online dispute resolution service provider in Silicon Valley, and a non-resident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. From 2003 to 2011, he served as eBay and PayPal's first director of Online Dispute Resolution, designing and implementing systems that now resolve more than 60 million disputes each year. Mr. Rule is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has presented and trained around the world for organizations including the U.S. Department of State, UNCITRAL, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, as well as teaching at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, Southern Methodist University, and Hastings College of the Law. He has written and been interviewed extensively about the Internet since 1999, with columns and articles appearing in ACResolution, Consensus, Dispute Resolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He holds a master's degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a B.A. in peace studies from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.



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Website: www.modria.com

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