Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Code of Conduct

I began my journey into the belly of the Internet back in the 1990s when I joined my first newsgroup. It was a newsgroup dedicated to the activity of cycling. The interaction with strangers was both educating and entertaining. I was hooked. I joined a political newsgroup. That is where I learned to flame like a champ and take it like a man. The political newsgroups were take no prisoners web ghettos.

Newsgroups evolved into forums. The platforms became so easy to use, suddenly any average Joe with a computer could join in. And they did. In droves. I wandered around these battlegrounds for the next 5 years doing battle. I fought the Civil War for awhile on a forum out of Alabama. I stood up for gays on another, all the while being accused of being a faggot lover. I had my ass handed to me on a forum that should have had an IQ test before entering. Those boys and girls knew how to tear you apart. And I loved it. I never took the animosity personally as I considered it nothing but a game of wits where nobody was hurt.

I grew tired of the senseless flaming back and forth. A good shot was fine, but when the threads consistently degenerated into flame fests and the topic was lost, I became bored. I also did not like where my head was going. I found myself being sucked into the flaming rather than the subject matter. So I looked elsewhere for my "fix".

In the Fall of 2004, a fellow forum rat had posted a thread about their blog. I had heard of blogs and actually checked out a couple. I was not impressed. Little did I know they were more than Suzy Q rambling on about the boy she lusts after in math class. I did not do enough digging to understand that blogs were run by every type of personality under the sun. Their authors were not just kids or whackos standing on a soapbox. But I was looking for a new outlet for my opinions and thoughts. So I started one.

After 2&1/2 years of blogging in total anonymity, I decided to actually look at the community I was part of. I began to seriously seek out blogs I could handle. So many of them just did not do it for me. There were supposedly 100 million bloggers out there. Surely I could find some to connect with.

I did find some, no make that many who I could relate to. I had to go through some self improvement to do it. I had to step back from the high opinion I had of my own words in order to appreciate the words of others. They had audiences. I did not. They spoke of everyday things and feelings we all have. Relating could be done once I realized I was just like them. Not better. Not worse. Just there speaking my mind like the rest of them.

So here I am now blogging more often and interacting more often. And I am enjoying it more than ever. I still miss the forum battles and will visit a few from time to time. But my interests have shifted to blogging. I like the generally more civil atmosphere and the control I have over my own space. A sign of maturity? Who cares. I definitely have changed my mindset. I like me better now than I used to. I am not so quick to write hatefully anymore. And that is a good thing.

Which brings me to my point. A point I could have made much earlier. But like so many posts I start, I never know where they will go until I get there.

I googled "blog" and came up with the wiki definition. Once again, wiki filled me in on details I never even thought of. Blogging is really only about 10 years old now. Mainstream blogging anyway. As it has evolved in the anything goes enviroment of the WWW, excesses of many kinds have reared their ugly heads. Excesses that now have legal types looking into ways to punish or make money for clients over what a blogger says, does, and copies. People have lost their jobs because of their blogs. People have been threatened with bodily harm because of their blogs. And then there is the ever watchful eye of government to consider.

Blogging gurus have come up with a code of conduct for bloggers that deals with trolls and negative comments. That they even think a code is needed is not a good sign. Common sense civility should be part of everyone's interaction with others. No matter how diverse their views are. I am currently posting comments on a very conservative blog that I like. I don't like the politics of the author, but he writes well and we have had some lively exchanges. But never has it gotten to flame throwing. He is civil. I am civil. We are beginning to respect each other I think.

And that is the only code of conduct I embrace. Respect. Differ on the subject but respect the author's right to say what they want. So, if I am ever out of line, please let me know. But be respectful. And I will return the favor.

Extraneous Note

As I was typing this post this morning, my computer was going through it's daily AVG check for heebie jeebies that might have crept into the guts of my hard drive since yesterday. The check up slows down the computer, but allows me to continue to use it while it runs it's program. I am typing along, happy as if I had a brain, and this message suddenly appeared and the puter locked up hard -

"Test cannot be started because it already does not exist"

Now this is funny. I just love the composition skills of computer geeks. It already does not exist? What is that?

Another note - The picture has nothing to do with the post. I could not find one that related, but I found this one and I liked it. Not sure why, but well there it is.


Gary ("Old Dude") said...

Good post and good thinking. I have much the same history vis-a-vis the internet experience----yet I suspect unlike you, I have passion for a good verbal exchange and am not above making goading remarks.(which of course is a sign of immaturity), still--?? This being an election year and all, its hard not to join the rabble and man the barricades of one's choice. Now having read your post, I feel so dumb---so immature------and so's your old man!! (lol)

MRMacrum said...

No Gary, I was the trouble maker in many forums. I became a real pain for many. I figured out what buttons to push and I pushed them. Eventually it became boring and still is. My schtick is to play devil's advocate when the choir would get to full of itself. I was pretty much a an equal opportunity nose tweaker.

Demeur said...

Hey Macrum you're my kind of guy. Like Billy of Spirits Doings would say "we're just monkeys on this rock." Sometimes people need to know that their poop actually does stink especially with all the hypocrites around these days.