What is slowly being understood by many is that this freedom to publish your words comes with a responsibility. As James Farmer said recently in The Age:
…if we stuff up, and let through a defamatory comment, then that’s potentially hundreds of thousands in damages or legal costs.
Freedom of speech does not mean you can say anything you want about anything or anyone. Our words, and the comments we make and allow on our blogs, have a responsibility that comes with publishing.
We are constantly at risk of plagiarism by blockquoting each other’s work. We love saying inflammatory things that brings a lot of traffic and attention, but sometimes lawsuits and laws.
There is a growing rash of lawsuits avalanching across the web, from copyright infringement to violation of accessibility for equal access. Crowded into the fray are suits for slander, defamation, libel, arrests for cyber crimes, and falsification.
When we started blogging, we just needed to understand how this blogging thing worked. Which button we pushed when to publish a post. SEO changed from making sure the code on our sites allowed search engines to index the whole site, into games with keywords, links, and trust that comes with trying to understand what’s really necessary to do to boost or manipulate your page ranking.
Above all, people learned quickly that in order to get the most attention, you have to do whatever it takes to be the center of attention. And with that came controversy.
When you stir the pot to attract attention, you are also taking a risk of stirring up something else.
As we exposed our thoughts and opinions to the world, we need to now learn responsibility. Responsibility and respect.
Responsibility for our content, and respect for others.
As Liz Strauss so often says, “Play nice.”
I say, “Play nice, or pay the price.”
If you choose to not play nice, you had better be willing to pay the price. Are you?
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.