Science bloggers debate need for code of conduct

Filed as News on January 21, 2008 8:54 pm

Attendees at the North Carolina Science Blogging Conference have been discussing whether there is a need for a code of conduct amongst science bloggers, which may include elements such as conflicts of interest disclosures, comment moderation, and protection of anonymous colleagues.

The first session of the second annual event was led by Janet Stemwedel. According to Ivan Oransky, who attended and reported on the conference, a lot of the debate focused on the differences between journalists and bloggers. Sound familiar?

I mentioned that, and Stemwedel’s response was telling: “Consider that science journalists are parents, and science bloggers are teenagers. The bloggers don’t really want to be like their parents, but they know journalists have been at this for a while and might have something to offer as they make their way.”

Worryingly, at one level, was the possibility that science bloggers might want to take a look at, and adopt, O’Reilly’s general bloggers code of conduct draft.

Possibly a better idea, though open to abuse, was a “science blogging ethics code wiki”. This idea was met with some enthusiasm.

While a general, blanket code of conduct for bloggers has been widely met with harsh and impassioned opposition, there may be a place for particular niches to develop their own, voluntary, codes or “best practice” guidelines. Not all blogging communities are as large or as outspoken on the technicalities of blogging as the tech and metablogging ones, so what may not work in one area could work very well in another.



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  1. By Anne Helmond posted on January 21, 2008 at 10:37 pm
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    There has been a “hard blogging scientists” manifesto for a while now. It is a short list of eleven points of what it means to blog as a scientist.

    The manifesto could be applicable to many other kinds of blogging as well because it is a very sensible list that revolves around communication, interaction, participation and respect.


  2. By manifest more money posted on January 23, 2008 at 2:30 am
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    What can I say about your writing but “wow” – you really know your subject and put your points across well. I can’t wait for your next post. I’ve found a guy who is good to read too will pass the details on when I find them.


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