Does anyone remember the periodic spasms of moral ferment that have bestirrred Blogarians to device “Codes of Blogging Ethics” or good-behavior certification systems? Well, Micah calls my attention to Ruth Gledhill’s report that “The Evangelical Alliance will on Monday publish the new Ten Commandments of Blogging.”
I suppose there’s something more laudable about this than, say, submitting that the internet obviates any concern about ethics — but will these commandments actually change anyone’s behavior? I tend to doubt that there are evangelical bloggers out there who have been scraping other people’s websites, but who now will stop because it]s against the Ten Commandments of Blogging to “steal another person’s content.”
In my interactions with evangelical blogging, the two leading ethical questions these blogs provoked concern anonymous writers defaming their enemies, and [openly-named] bloggers misrepresenting their opponents’ claims and persons. The same applies to progressive bloggers, of course, and to presidential politics on both sides; none of these groups has, as best I recall, codes of ethics that prohibit such conduct. Returning now to the topic, do the anonymous bloggers and public polemicists imagine that they’ve been transgressing — or do they understand themselves to be using their full repertoire of rhetorical leverage in order to expose the iniquity of their adversaries, who are obscuring the truth and destroying the church? Is someone going to be conscience-stricken, or will they reiterate their self-justifications? (And who am I, who are we, to determine that we know they are wrong?)
I’m all for ethics and Ten Commandments (the originals, that is). I’m just hesitant about well-intentioned grand gestures such as this one. It would be great if enough people demonstrated their commitment to righteous blogging that they could point to positive results that show me to have been unduly skeptical.