A Blogger’s Code of Conduct

Writing on Twitter earlier this weekend, Liberal Conspiracy editor Sunny Hundal asked some interesting questions of those of us who write and read blogs:

Should bloggers have a code of conduct? Would you appreciate it if a blog had one?

Of course, this is not a new subject and it’s certainly one that divides opinions, particularly in the context of the many political blogs out there, which are written by activists, journalists and politicians alike – and which often attract very virulent and partisan commenters (to say the very least).

The idea of a code of conduct is certainly something that interests me, despite the fact that Another Kind Of Mind is different in that it is not solely a political blog (although there’s certainly a lot of politics to be found here). I have, however, long had quite a few informal but important rules I follow when blogging, whether I’m writing about politics or not (see below).

Most of these rules are basic common sense and politeness, because I believe that blogging is a two-way conversation between the blogger and the reader – if the reader takes the time and trouble to read and comment on my posts then they deserve to know that my writing is as trustworthy and truthful as it can be, even if they do not agree with my point of view.

I believe that such levels of honesty are important in building a relationship with those who read and comment at Another Kind Of Mind, and I can clearly see how it could be argued that a code of conduct could go some way to providing such assurances to blog readers more generally. As far as I’m concerned, any code of practice for bloggers is about giving the reader the relevant information and crediting them with the intelligence to make up their own mind.

I guess you could, if you wanted, call the list below the Another Kind Of Mind Code of Conduct, although these ‘rules’ merely formalise my own personal code, which I’ve followed (and added to) on principle pretty much since I started blogging almost four years ago.

I hereby promise that:

1] All images and artwork used by Another Kind Of Mind will be fully credited, and, if needed, used with the artist or photographer’s permission.

2] Any ideas suggested by readers and subsequently used in a blog post will be fully credited. All suggested ideas will be considered (you can submit your ideas here).

3] All quotes will be linked to their source webpage where possible. If quoting from a book, there will be a standard, academic style footnote reference to the title, author, date, publisher, and page number.

4] I won’t ever link to the Daily Mail, The Sun, or the rest of their ilk. Unless it’s absolutely, totally and utterly necessary, of course…

5] Links to Wikipedia will be used sparingly – and only on the assumption that either a better source cannot be found, and/or that a particular Wikipedia entry is exceptionally well-written and properly referenced (there are actually some, believe it or not!).

6] I will never use a secondary source as evidence when a relevant primary source can easily be found (ie: linking to a government report rather than to a newspaper article about said report).

7] I will feel free to express my opinion on any issue (sarcastic or otherwise), but it will always be clearly labelled as what it is: my opinion. Any guest posts will naturally express the opinions of their writers, which may not necessarily agree with mine (or yours).

8] I will sometimes swear – both in real life and on my blog. The very occasional use of swear words in a post won’t be labelled, but if a blog entry contains a lot of bad language I will warn readers of a nervous disposition.

9] If I am writing on a subject that may cause distress to readers who have experienced abuse, violence or rape, I will clearly state a trigger warning at the beginning of the post.

8] I will not drunk post (never have, never will…). For obvious reasons!

10] If any major factual errors are spotted by readers, or any dead links etc are found, I will endeavour to resolve such issues promptly (if you have spotted anything like that, you can let me know here).

11] I will respond to all comments, and as soon as I possibly can. However, I reserve the right to delete/not publish any comment(s) I consider to be offensive to myself or others, or potentially libellous (see here for more details on the Another Kind Of Mind comments policy).

12] I also reserve the right to close comments on any blog post if the thread has deteriorated into name calling, or if commenters are trading offensive insults or being potentially libellous. I believe in free speech, but I will not tolerate ad hominem and/or abusive attacks on myself or on my readers – and nor do I wish to be sued!

13] Any subsequent major edits to an entry once posted will be clearly labelled and dated as such. Minor spelling or grammar corrections will not necessarily be labelled, unless they significantly change the meaning of a sentence/paragraph or of the whole post.

14] Any creative, fictional writing or poetry by myself or any guest blogger will be clearly labelled as such.

15] There will be full and honest disclosure if I have a personal interest in or attachment to the subject of a blog post.

16] The privacy and online safety of my commenters and subscribers will be respected at all times – your email addresses will never, ever be passed on or sold to anyone else, nor used to spam you.

Let me know what you think. Are there any important points you think I’ve missed on this list? If you were writing a similar Code of Conduct for a blog, what would you add to it? Anything you’d remove? Or would you take a totally different approach?



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