Code of ethics for bloggers

UPDATED ON MAY 27 WITH PROPOSED CODE OF ETHICS

With growing popularity of blogs in Nepal, many issues concerning blogs are emerging. One of the issues that needed to be immediately addressed is on ethical aspects of the blogs.

Blogs, by nature, is free. But as Rebecca Blood put it: The blog’s greatest strength – its uncensored, unmediated, uncontrolled voice – is also its greatest weakness.

While believing that blogs should remain free – uncensored and uncontrolled, it’s also worthwhile for bloggers to be responsible. As CyberJournalists.net states: Responsible bloggers should recognize that they are publishing words publicly, and therefore have certain ethical obligations to their readers, the people they write about, and society in general.

Code of Ethics is not strict principles that every bloggers should adhere to; rather it’s a standard guideline that bloggers can voluntarily follow. Code of conducts are formulated and followed by bloggers themselves. Following ethical publishing practices not only make the blogs standard but also convey a message to the readers that they can be trusted.

There is no Code of Ethics for Bloggers in Nepal. And, this could become a biggest weakness of Nepali blogosphere in the time of crisis.

It was also discussed a few days ago in a seminar organized by Equal Access – and after hearing what people have to say about blogs, a few of bloggers who were present in the seminar felt a need for the Code of Ethics.

After informal consultations with some of the bloggers and the Online Journalists Association – Nepal (OJAN), we agreed that it would be worthwhile to formulate the Code of Conduct for Bloggers under Bloggers Association of Nepal (BLOGAN) – an informal community of Nepali bloggers, and OJAN.

I have taken the responsibility of preparing the first draft of the Code of Ethics. Regarding this, I need suggestions from bloggers. Please do suggest me via comments of this blog or email through contact me page.

Here is a primary plan:

  • A code of Ethics is formulated
  • Bloggers can choose to become a signatory of the Code of Ethics
  • The Code of Ethics will be kept online officially with the list of signatories
  • All signatory bloggers agree to follow the Code of Ethics

Here is the first draft of the proposed Code of Ethics for Bloggers.

CODE OF ETHICS FOR BLOGGERS (Proposed on May 27, 2011)

DOs: A blogger should honestly:

  1. Be honest and fair on what you write in your blog
  2. Write things that you believe to be truth
  3. Specify your source of information – credit to offline sources and link to online sources
  4. Specify clearly the use of any unconfirmed fact or information
  5. Avoid conflict of interest – clearly disclose your position including job, financial interest, affiliation and relationship if they related to the post OR maintain an detailed About Me page
  6. Clearly differentiate between advertisements and blog content
  7. Disclose clearly if an entry is posted sponsored or as advertisement or after accepting a payment or goods to write it
  8. Admit and correct mistakes as soon as possible but only with strikethrough or editorial note
  9. Allow comments to engage audience, allow different opinions and clearly state your moderation policy if any
  10. Show compassion for human being – be sensitive writing about or using photos of victims
  11. Promote freedom of speech

DON’Ts: A blogger shouldn’t intentionally:

  1. Completely rewrite or delete an entry
  2. Threaten people and institution using the blog
  3. Write anything undermining nationality, national security, religious harmony and social order
  4. Give space to pornography, hate speech and crude content
  5. Publish personal and confidential information of people
  6. Spam, spread malware and viruses and engage in illegal activities
  7. Plagiarize – copy and paste from other sources
  8. Disclose the source of primary information without source’s consent

Bloggers, please provide your suggestions, criticisms and comments.

All your comments, suggestions and criticisms will be taken up in subsequent updates of the Code of Ethics before it is finalized and bloggers are invited to be signatory.

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