Blog Honour Pledging
The Blog Herald has a post about the Blog Honour Pledge, which basically amounts to saying you'll be honest and transparent about whatever you write. I think the motive is to ensure that bloggers adhere to a high moral standard, and that you can trust that their comments are not paid for out of an advertising budget (unless they say so). Funnily enough, it sounds like an attempt to codify the existing sentiment of the blog world (and put a cool badge on your page to boot).
One of the great benefits of never writing anything of substance is that I never have to worry about being transparent. But here is an example for you, to illustrate why I think pledges are good in theory, but bad in practice...
I am a blogger and I take the Blog Honour Pledge. I stick some badge on my sidebar so everyone knows I'm a good boy. And then I proceed to write a blog post entitled: Kevin Rose Keeps Kitten Corpses in Kitchen for Midnight Snacks!*
Now once that gets out, three things will happen. First, feline fetishists everywhere will (mistakenly) get a new poster boy.
Second, people who have brains and read my entry will think to themselves: he's obviously stupid, and I won't read his blog anymore. Some of those will write their own blog entries calling me out for being stupid, and the web in general will start to look at me as something of a freak. And eventually I won't have any credibility left at all, because the word will be out that I make up extremely silly stories because I'm lonely and want attention.
Third, it will come out that I wrote that story while under the employ of someone at Netscape, in a sneaky attempt to subvert and destroy Digg. Not only did I say something horribly untrue, but I WAS PAID TO SAY IT! Suddenly my vicious lies are even more disgusting, and whatever people still thought I was a somewhat good person will start mailing me rotten eggs and dried squid**. My blog will be banned from every reputable news aggregator, my name will be mud, and I will have nothing to show for it but a few hundred dollars and a Netscape t-shirt.
Somewhere in there, the folks who make the pledge site will tell me they revoke my badge, because I've obviously broken all their rules. But it doesn't matter to me because I copied the badge to my own server and I'm not gonna take it off my sidebar! Nyah nyah! Look everybody, I've still got honour, cause I've taken the pledge!
Ah, that's right. Everyone already left. Because the web tends to discover untruths, exposes them, and then beats them with a stick for so long it makes everyone ill just thinking about them. There's no journalistic oversight here, no code of ethics, nothing like that. You don't need it, because there's always someone on the other side ready to tear you to shreds if you misstep. It may take a little while to do, but it's fair, balanced and transparent via trial by fire. Sure, a pledge may announce that you're ready and willing to undergo such an ordeal, but it won't help reduce the skepticism with which people treat you.
Bloggers should aim for a high level of quality, truth and transparency while writing... but we shouldn't try and lock those ideals down in some kind of accreditation, because I suspect it will just make us all lazy, and then we'll have given up one of the great quirks of the blogging world.
Note to anyone with a less-than-inspiring IQ: I have no reason to believe Kevin Rose keeps kittens in his kitchen, for any purpose. This title was for illustrative purposes only.
If you want to send dried squid, that's actually okay. My kids love it. I don't know why, but they do,