|Rileyroxx, via Flickr (CC license)
|Some decisions are harder than others.
Tomorrow I head off to Las Vegas for Blogworld Expo, where on Thursday morning I’m leading a large panel on blogging ethics.
I’ve gotta admit, normally I don’t give panel topics as much thought as I’ve been giving this one. But lately, questions of publishing ethics (in blogging and journalism) have been leaping out of me from almost everywhere. Some kind of cosmic confluence, I guess.
I first tried to sort out the core ethical issues for blogging on Oct. 29 — but not very well, I think.
So, after mulling it over for a while, here’s my second shot — and it’s the framework I’ll use in leading this panel.
Ethics, like blogs, are not one-size-fits-all. Ethics are a personal and sometimes group affair that can vary to suit different types of blogs, bloggers, and communities. The point of ethics is not just to be “right,” but to use consistent criteria for decisionmaking to promote the collective good — a very subjective goal.
Also, ethics are separate from laws and regulations. We’ve all seen cases when the ethical thing to do is to obey the law (such as respecting copyright, refraining from libel, etc.) — as well as cases where laws clash with people’s sense of what’s right.
In practice, ethics usually don’t seem like a big deal. The vast majority of ethical decisions mostly involve mundane, small situations, not extreme crises. However, being conscious of the ethics you choose and applying them to small stuff can help you make better choices and be more confident during blogging crises. Also, ethical considerations sometimes pile up and conflict — so being conscious of your own ethics can help you determine what’s most important.
It seems to me that there are six core areas where bloggers tend to encounter ethical decision points. Below are some questions intended to illuminate your personal blogging ethics in each of these areas.
Where do you stand? What do you expect from yourself and the community around your blog, and from other bloggers and communities? Consider these points…