Okay people, I got news for you. We are not CNN, hell we aren’t even FOX, we might sorta aspire to a Daily Show sorta level, but even that might be a stretch. Some of the recent action in the comments section regarding the standards of journalistic integrity that the Rev must aspire towards to knock off New World Notes as the next news source were sorta like…. ummmmm WHAT?? It did get me to thinking about some things though, which is often dangerous…
Most specifically I have been thinking a bit about blogging ethics (if there is such a thing.) Let me start though with a general declaration which I hope that everyone has figured out about the Rev. We have very stringent hiring requirements to join this blog. It takes a unanimous positive vote from JellyBean Madison, Rosie Shark, and myself to get someone onto this blog (although I have the rep for being the most picky). The criteria we look for are the following: strong eloquent writing style, someone who is willing to voice opinions about issues, and that they compliment our current mix of people/personalities. Once on the blog, they are free to write on any topic – any way they see fit. We don’t always agree with each other, or with the topics, but overall I am super excited about what our writers have done on the blog. We are still not a year old, but we are growing by leaps and bounds. We do not enforce any set of rules, we do not have an editing step in the equation, and the writers are free to go for it. In other words, if I speak to a personal set of ethics it reflects my own perspective and is not a guideline for this blog in general.
So with no further ado, here are Hawk’s general guidelines for blogging:
1) Bloggers blog - Well duh, right? What I mean by this is that if I come across an issue with a virtual retailer, or a person, or something specific, then I am going to blog about it. I have a commitment to post every two weeks for the Rev, and I am always on the look out for material. If I find myself embroiled in something, then it is likely going to show up in a blog format. A blogger shares the good, the bad, and sometimes the fugly with YOU who are reading this right now. Nonbloggers who come back with, “why didn’t you just handle that one on one and mute/ban/complain to the person”, don’t understand the blogging mentality of someone who is always looking for something to write about. I need material people, if I didn’t write about situations in my life, I would end up with a blog that looks like this.
2) Drama sells – If you believe in a free market economy approach to life, then you would be blogging drama 24/7 because a blog post with controversy attached to it will get triple the hits of a best of SL piece hands down any day of the week. As a blogger who likes to see traffic increase, you are naturally incentivized to be on the lookout for something a little edgier and controversial to post about because you know you will get action on it. Personally, I crave feedback as a blogger. I get the best feedback from humor pieces and things that stir the pot. Therefore, I am incentivized by YOU the readers to move in that direction. All that being said though, I would say that I write probably 1 drama piece out of 20 – although ironically those are the ones people remember.
3) Honesty above all else – I have zero tolerance for someone who makes up an issue, or alters the facts in some way shape or form. Your post cannot have incorrect facts or falsified information. You have to believe in what you write. As the author of a post, you need to believe heart and soul in what you publish.
4) Confidentiality – I personally would never publish a personal chat log with someone, especially if the information was given to me with the expectation it would be kept private and confidential. It might help you with research for a post, or point you in the right direction, but I do not think it should be shared publicly. I have no issue with taking public information that is represented on the web (including plurk) and using that in a post. There is a big difference between something sent only to me, verses something that is out there for the masses.
5) Naming names – If the basis of a post revolves specifically around certain individuals or an event, then I have no issue with naming the people or the event. I think it gives context to the post. From experience though, I am learning that by naming names you actually can lose the readers comprehension of the issue at hand because of the inevitable backlash of the person’s friends. People get caught up in all the hooplah of the fact you named a name, and totally forget WHY you named the person in the first place. Ironically if you take Cat’s approach and speak to the question in a general sense then you end up with people clamoring for the name in both public and private.
6) Unedited feedback – I do not support censorship in any way shape or form, including the rights of people to respond to your post. If people have a differing view, then by all means share it! In fact, one of my personal goals for this blog is to engage the readership to participate via commenting. If you agree or disagree with the author, then share your response, and we will NOT edit you. In fact, if you look at the sidebar one of the first things we put up there was the open invitation to someone to write a formal rebuttal or post on a topic that they feel strongly about, and we will publish it for you (assuming it is written in an eloquent engaging manner.)
In conclusion, blogging is for fun just like so many of the other pursuits we do in Second Life. We are living a more public life, than other people who prefer to just keep to themselves. We share a large part of our experiences with each of you who come back to read our blogs on a consistant basis. We all blog for different reasons, but I have shared many of the guidelines that shape the posts that I write. At the end of the day, I hope that I connect with you the reader in a way that makes you think and that you can see my perspective that shapes the words on the page.