F.T. Rea at SLANTBlog makes a good point about the use of the word “ethical” in the blogosphere these days:
[T]he way the terms “ethical blogger” and “blogging ethics” are being used by bloggers to attack other bloggers they simply don’t like is not only getting quite tiresome, it is stretching the meaning out of the words.
Moreover, from what I’ve seen, the bloggers who are using this buzzword approach in their posts the most are the very ones who must know that any serious discussion of obnoxious behavior in the blogosphere — mostly meaning deliberate dishonesty and incivility — will shine a bad light on them.
Without speculating on who Terry’s talking about (though it’s probably the same people I’m thinking about), I must say I agree with him. The term “ethical blogging” is something people like to toss around but provide absolutely no meat to.
The more and more this goes on, the more people hop on the “ethics” bandwagon merely to use it as a weapon against people who have wronged them, the more I really start to feel that perhaps a code would be worthwhile, some written guidelines that show that people are willing to take themselves and their blogging seriously. Something that broadly defines what ethics in blogging truly is. Something that just says “I pledge to be good and others will be good to me”.
But there’s more to ethical blogging than trying to create a code and folks signing onto said code and interpreting it as they’d like.
I think readers know ethical blogging when they see it. I know when a blog hits me the wrong way, I know when one hits me the right way. There is a tone, there is a content, there is something about a site that speaks volumes without my really being able to put my finger on what exactly it is. You can pick up on these things and I think most readers do.
So if you’re going to talk ethics, be serious about it, because you’re not going to like what comes of the conversation if you aren’t.