Blog Wars, Part III: An update on the blogger watchdog council

A Conversation with Joss Whedon Greenroom Panel - 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival

Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

The blogger watchdogs will probably not be issued outfits like this.

A few weeks back, AdAge columnist Simon Dumenco announced the formation of something called the "Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation." The idea was widely discussed, by myself among others. Now Dumenco has provided some reaction to the debate CEBA inspired — and kindly linked to my post. Although I should point out that I wasn't doing anything all that "unexpected," just blogging about blogging. We do blog out here in L.A., when we aren't surfing and eating the greatest sushi in all the land.

In any case, Dumenco reacted by creating a short Q&A. Here's a taste:

Q. So this is the Blog Police, right?

A. Oh, yeah, absolutely. The 30-plus members of CEBA (so far; we'll announce a full list next month) -- including Cyndi Stivers, editor-in-chief of the Columbia Journalism Review; Sheryl Huggins Salomon, managing editor of The Root; Evan Hansen, editor-in-chief of Wired.com; Dan Okrent, former New York Times public editor -- will be equipped with pepper-spray canisters and will be authorized to spritz disobedient bloggers in the face, point-blank, U.C. Davis-style. Especially Gawker's Hamilton Nolan.

I kid, HamNo! I kid because I love! Seriously, I couldn't have asked for a more deliciously bitchy response than your March 12 post titled "We Don't Need No Stinking Seal of Approval from the Blog Police" (which pretty much totally missed the point but was a classically entertaining HamNo read).

"Look," Nolan wrote, "what Dumenco is trying to do is simply to codify 'how to blog without being a huge [deleted]' guidelines that all decent online writers already know." He specified some—"give credit to sources of information, link back, don't blockquote to a ridiculous degree" -- and then concluded that "everyone who cares about not being a [deleted] already does these things, or tries to do them, and, if notified of not doing them, should correct them" and that for "writers who don't care about this issue, such a group [CEBA] will have no influence. Therefore such a group is worthless."

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Blog Wars, Part II: A watchdog for bloggers

A Conversation with Joss Whedon Greenroom Panel - 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival

Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

A South by Southwest attendee at a panel discussion. As you can tell from the uniform, not a blogger.

Blogging is definitely entering a surly, complex middle age. What started out as a frisky means of self-expression, a way to comment on the news of the day, and a highlight reel of the World Wide Web has become a business. And some folks think that the business of blogging is in the business of getting away with whatever it can.

Or they're just...dealing with the fact that blogging-as-business has developed a hyperactive metabolism that provokes infractions.

Take for example Henry Blodget's mea culpa after pasting the Wikipedia entry on the My Lai massacre into a recent blog post at Business Insider. It's no longer pasted in. Because, as Blodget puts it, Gawker freaked out. Maybe Gawker was right to freak out. But then again Blodget does write plenty of posts that are fairly dense with real business analysis, so it's hardly his pattern. 

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