Blogging Ethics: WSBD? (What Should Bloggers Do?)

Timothy Lloyd, via Flickr (CC license)
There are lots of ways to make ethical decisions. This probably isn’t the best one.

I’ve pulled together an interesting panel session for Blogworld Expo. It’s called Blogging Ethics: Making Tough Decisions, and it’ll be held Thursday Nov. 8, 10:15-11:45 am at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

(Right now they still have my session listed as “citizen journalism,” but they should have the info updated soon.)

Frankly, I’ve found most media ethics discussions to be dreadfully stodgy and dull. I definitely don’t want this session to be boring. So I’ve invited some bloggers who represent diverse approaches and goals:

  • Christopher, a Vegas resident who blogs (sans last name) at While Las Vegas Sleeps: “Real stories from the most unreal city on earth.” I chose him to explore the ethical issues of personal blogging — especially from a place where the long-standing local communication ethic has been “Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
  • Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing, who’s great at articulating the business, marketing, and PR approach to blogging.
  • Graydancer, a leading blogger and podcaster for the rope bondage, performing arts, and BDSM/kink communities. Talk about people with unique considerations around communication, privacy, and freedom of expression!
  • ADDED OCT. 24: Charlotte-Anne Lucas, assistant professor of journalism at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She teaches online journalism, web publishing and design, and digital storytelling. She was an early blogger at and at, where she instituted ethical guidelines, along with strict corrections policies on blogs and online writing in general. She also requires her journalism students to blog.

Here’s what I have in mind for this session…

I plan to challenge the panel with some real and hypothetical ethical quandaries faced by bloggers and hear what they’d do in response — and why. This should allow us to explore the unique ethical considerations of their respective communities. Where do they overlap and diverge?

We’ll also explore these questions:

  • How important is it to document online ethics into formal codes or rules of conduct? (BTW, here’s one list of links to several blogging codes of ethics.)
  • How can you address ethical breaches by bloggers, commenters, or within online communities (whether site-based or distributed across many sites or services)?
  • Are there any “absolute” ethics that apply to almost any kind of blogger?

If you’re going to BlogWorld Expo, I hope you’ll stop by my session. To prep for it, I’ll be posting more about blogging ethics in coming weeks.

But for now, here’s a question for Contentious readers (or anyone else who cares to comment): Can you describe a blog-related ethical dilemma you’ve faced, whether in your blog or on someone else’s? How did you decide to handle it? (Not just what did you do, but how did you make that decision? What ethical guidelines did you apply?)

I need good anecdotes. Supply names, links and details if possible. Please comment below or e-mail me. Thanks!

3 thoughts on Blogging Ethics: WSBD? (What Should Bloggers Do?)

  1. Amy – Should have know that your panel will would not be all sugar and spice but have lots of southwest hot chili sauce!

    Here’s a challenge I’m facing. I’ve been ask to create a blogger relations program. In doing some research I’ve discovered quite a few social networking groups on Facebook and other communities that address the issues that revolve around the client’s product. In several situations I’m sure that the product would help solve the problems that community members have expressed concerns about.

    How does one offer that type of a solution without appearing to be astroturfing?

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