John Timmer at Ars Technica discusses the results of a survey of bloggers which seems to suggest that, while most bloggers hold themselves to a reasonably high ethical standard, they don’t necessarily expect other bloggers to do so.

I think it’s kind of a weird idea to have a code of ethics for all bloggers, but that’s because blogs are so diverse, not because I can imagine a situation in which I’d be deliberately violating such a code. My blog is a sort of mashup of art review, musings on communications and policies, and science coverage, and they’re all different sorts of posts. When I blog on a peer-reviewed paper, I use different formatting than I do when blogging on an art show. But I always attribute things, make quotes and sources clear, and represent the facts as accurately as I can. I do that not because I belong to a profession with an ethical code (blogging is not my profession) but because I was trained as a scientist and scholar, and I consider it my duty to represent things truthfully here. If I didn’t feel that way, I doubt a code would have much force. What do you think?


  1. #1 Rana
    June 29, 2009

    I agree with you – I’m honorable and ethical on my blog because that’s who I am, not because I belong to the Honorable Order of Bloggers and had to swear a sacred oath before I was allowed to open a Typepad account.

    Having a code of ethics for blogging is rather like having a code of ethics for book writers or musical composers. A blog is a platform, a medium, and all sorts of people put all sorts of things on it, just like they do with books or music.

    One might as well argue for a code of conduct for people more generally – it’d work about as well. Oh, wait, we already have some of those!

  2. #2 humorix
    June 30, 2009

    ” Ethics for blogs “?
    There are 31,478 scientists who are set against Al Gore’s ” Global Warning “. They are not listened to!
    To what is of use internet?

  3. #3 bioephemera
    June 30, 2009

    Well, humorix sure is humor-ous. Thanks for the morning laugh!

  4. #4 John
    June 30, 2009

    I agree with you that a code of ethics would be difficult to implement. It’s really up to readers to decide if a particular blogger is trustworthy. I try to present information as accurately and honestly as I can, but that’s because it’s how I was trained and not because I agreed to some statement of principles.

  5. #5 Patricia
    July 1, 2009

    You could have a little badge displayed yours blog which confirms you are part of Honourable Bloggers Collective. Though how would they establish you are honourable except perhaps by peers? Who decides if these peers are honourable to start with?

  6. #6 bioephemera
    July 1, 2009

    If we start giving out “Honorable Bloggers” Badges, I don’t want one – I want the “Thought Police Who Enforce Honorable Blogging” badge instead. Bwahahahaha!!!

  7. #7 Lynn
    July 3, 2009

    I think there already is an unwritten “code” of ethics (link back to your sources, etc.) but anytime someone decides to formalize such a code they start adding all sorts of little nitpicky things. Blogging is just fine the way it is.

  8. #8 Comrade PhysioProf
    July 3, 2009

    I see the blogosphere as a pretty-much self-correcting medium. If some blogger is acting like a total douchewheel, commenters and other bloggers can take him to task, and readers can choose to stop reading.

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