Tim O’Reilly’s response to Code of Conduct criticism

It looks like Tim O’Reilly mostly agrees with me that a Creative Commons style approach is a good idea. Hopefully something productive can come out of the whole mess.

Still I’m not sure if he really gets the impact of this…

I disagree with him that this is going to in any way lead to more overall civility in the blogosphere:

It concerns me that Kathy Sierra, whose bad experience triggered this discussion, thinks that a code of conduct such as I proposed would do no good. But I believe that civility is catching, and so is uncivility. If it’s tolerated, it gets worse. There is no one blogging community, just like there is no one community in a big city. But as Sara Winge, our VP of Corporate Communications pointed out, it’s not an accident that “Civil” is also the first two syllables of “civilization.”

This sounds a little akin to the the broken window theory, which I don’t think applies here. It strikes me that whether or not bloggers post code of conduct badges on their sites won’t make anyone more or less civil than they already were unless they’ve never even thought about social boundaries.

We’re more likely to see the impact of an establishment stating their dress code than anything. If the restaurant around the corner asks that I wear a suit and tie, does it mean I’m more likely to wear one when I go to the neighborhood cafe?

Cilivilization relies on a base set of rules enforced by the police and the courts that have the power to deprive people of liberty, backed up by bullets.

I don’t see how any of this is going to significantly change what an individual blogger will or will not allow on their blogs to a very large extent. But it will prompt some of them to clarify their unwritten codes of conduct so that everything is more out in the open.

A published code of conduct lets people know what the set of expectations is for a particular blog in a clear fashion for those that are easily offended and for those that like to do the offending alike.

That seems like a good idea to be, and could save a lot of headaches for bloggers that decide to post a code of conduct. Still doesn’t do a thing for problems like Kathy Sierra encountered though.

One more thing that bothered me

It disturbed me when I read that he had “rushed” this in order to meet a New York Times deadline.

How pointless.

Still everyone makes mistakes and I have nothing but huge respect for O’Reilly and everything he’s accomplished. I’m just a few minutes away from O’Reilly’s corporate headquarters in Sebastopol and still have a few out-of-date books from the early days.

Plus, each time I see the camels, llamas, rhinos and iguanas on my bookshelf they make me smile.