The Ethics of Blogging December 21, 2007Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Culture, Ethics, Nina Rosenstand's Posts.
On this blog we frequently talk about ethics—so when I came across a blog discussion about the ethics of blogging, I thought I’d share it here. Is it ethical to have different personas on various blogs expressing different views? Is it ethical to try to boost the hits on a blog by being provocative? Recently we had a “troll” posting an irrelevant comment, but as trolling goes, this was a minor blip. I have visited blogs without password rules where comments are being posted that are extremely provocative and in some cases slanderous, despite the warnings posted on the blogs that such posts will be removed. In addition, I have seen people’s aliases being hijacked by anonymous posters with an agenda. Fun and games? Infantile behavior? Mean-spirited individuals, or just irritants without a life ruining other people’s innocent late-night cyber friendships? Probably all of the above, but a more nefarious agenda seems to be to artificially boost the blog hits—for the simple purpose of getting recognized as an active blog, or for financial gain (advertising $), as described in Wil Wheaton’s blog (yes, Ensign Crusher is blogging! For you Star Trek trekkers).
It’s a Klondike in the Blogosphere right now—there are rules of ethics, but in many cases the game is all about how to circumvent the rules. As much as I probably wouldn’t vote for Kant as president (see Dwight, below), he did have a good point about the Good Will that shines by its own light, like a jewel: Your intention will make or break the moral value of your action. Do you want to be controversial because you have concerns and ideas that, thanks to the Internet, you can now share with the world? Do you post under several aliases so you, like Kierkegaard, can make philosophical points from several different angles and not just because you’re insecure or have a personality disorder? Go for it—if your ideas fly, good for you. If they don’t, then at least you got to share them, and if other people should find them offensive, then at least you’ve got a dialogue going, and maybe everybody can learn something. But if it is to (1) slander individuals or groups or (2) to aggrandize yourself/your blog, using other posters or bloggers as a “means to an end,” then you (everything else being equal) are being unethical. Same rules as in real life. Fortunately our little corner here has been fairly well-behaved up until now, but the cyberworld is big and wild. If you’re blogging or commenting on one of the sites haunted by trolls, “don’t’ feed them.” Happy Holidays…