Blog World Expo: Blogging Ethics

Amy Gahran ran her panel at the Blog World Expo on Ethics - with a cool group of people, including friends Lynne Johnson of Fast Company and Toby Bloomberg.

Here's Amy's description of the panel and panelists.

My thoughts and notes ...

Honesty and transparency - is it ever okay to mislead or deceive my omission? Compensation and influence - how does that affect what you say or don't say....

Do people change the way they review, to continue to have access to junkets such as TV previews or book reviews ....

Bloggers do not necessarily get the respect that journalists get, but does this taint / color how they write to get that legitimacy? Small town newspapers, smaller media publications, also have the same problem, though. It's a question of credibility - my credibility.

Astroturfing - it does happen on blogs and social media, but what can be done, and how do you expose it. Should it be exposed, and what is the responsibility of the blogger being spun or the corporation doing astroturf.

To acknowledge an error on the post is to be ethical. To just change the issue, you're lacking transparency and not being smart about it.

::I called out the bullshit that there needs to be an organization, but that blogging wants to be both professional and still amateur - it wants its cake and to eat it too. There is Media Bloggers Association that is trying to get an insurance policy together, to protect bloggers::

Don't be lazy - it's a good aspect of ethics for life, no matter what you are doing.

Is anyone who they really say there are online, though. There are times that people have pseudonyms, but is that unethical? There's a line that you have to protect yourself (career, etc) - but what is that line. Do you hide behind a pseudonym to be a prick and attack - then it's not ethical. To protect and save yourself (job), then it appears fine.

Does character blogging fall into unethical? If it's disclosed, does it violate the sense of ethics in blogging?

But, what is transparency and does there need to be a blogging code of ethics, a la Tim O'Reilly. Can you really set a standard and code for a bunch of divergent people, especially when the majority of bloggers are likely small bloggers and not into the whole scheme of things like a lot of the more seasoned or professional bloggers.

::For PR, this is an important issue - PR seems like it could and would violate the basic rules of ethics to get what is needed to be done for the clients (this is the PR people that are not involved in social media, nor understand it). It seems like the astroturf / fake blog would be the first thought in the brainstorm::

Payperpost (and in some ways, Federated Media) come up in a way that marketers are paying bloggers for chats and posts. If it's not disclosed, is it unethical. There are all kinds of compensations that are meaningful, such as gifts, junkets. Is it relationship building, though? There are hospitality suites ... and that's part of it. Even link exchange, in a way, can be considered a way of bribery. Heck, we even got a wine offer for friendship from Christopher Calicott as an example of how it is just about relationships, but it can be misconstrued.

::Ethics is a tricky issue. At the U, it was always fun in the ethics classes because there really is no right answer. If you are a utilitarian, you do organ harvest from your own kid for the greatest good (if you're saving the great minds of the world). But, that seems unethical. There are all these stories and issues::

Tris Hussey also wrote up the panel here. And, Amy Sample Ward is going to post also.



  1. While I do blog under a pseudonym, it's not so secret that I wouldn't appreciate actually being acknowledged as a contributor to the panel. I do appreciate the zealous nature with which you protect my identity, but you may recall that there in front of Godblogcon and everybody I "outed" myself as Gray Miller, blogging & podcasting about alternative sexuality as "Graydancer" on my blog and my podcast.

    Thanks for the brownie, though. Good to meet you here at the conference.

  2. I was at this particular session and thought it was pretty useful.

    One standout was Brian Solis. The moderator, however, was way, way over her head.

    Martin Diano