Common Sense and Common Courtesy: Ground Rule for Blogging

The iceberg hides a bigger proportion of its mass under water. The visible part is only a smaller part of the iceberg.

BUM 2009 is coming, the new Minister of Information, Dato Dr Rais Yatim has stretched his hand to bloggers, former Minister for Internal Security, Dato Syed Hamid call for a Code of Ethics for Bloggers, and recent skirmiches amongst bloggers (not war, Bujai).

Just like the iceberg, what is visible on the blogs is a small part of a bigger undercurrent of blogosphere.

When Syed Hamid expressed the need for Code of Ethics, I thought it was not a smart idea. In fact, I expressed the same comment nationally in a RTM Radio interview. It is simply because inch by inch, it will lead towards curtailing freedom of speech and expression. What we have achieved in this last few years will be reversed?

To move forward as a nation, we should elevate more discussion, debate, and expression. We have been too long suppressed by feudalistic mindset of the leaders knows best and the rest of us stay setia membabi buta.

Those at the helm of national leadership must be one with the ability to articulate their thoughts, take charge of the national debate and convince us, and not through curtailing of expression. Unless we speak, the Government and Opposition do not know the wishes of the people and take the necessary action for our betterment.

Thus, such cliche expressed by Shabery Chik for Tun M to quite down and speak through "proper channel" are out-of-date and regressive. Let the man or anyone speak, lest one wants to be called a coward.

Now, how do we deal with those bloggers who have stretch the limit of freedom? Do we leave and ignore them? As Rais Yatim spoke recently in a Bloggers gathering, we are not insulated by the law. But if the law can't reach them, due to the burden of proof required by the court, how do we deal with them?

Something one fail to realise is that the blogosphere actually has its own way of dealing with those wayward bloggers.

You write crap, you lose your credibility and people just stop visiting. And Rais said the same thing. Pity our blogger friend, Raja Petra. Malaysia Today suffered in readership since his Statutory Declaration. However, he is still in the million readership league.

You get too personal in your critics and readers just shy away. The same happens when you are ever too often involve in fights with other bloggers or your own commentators.

If you can't handle comments, moderate. But despite moderating the comments, you still can't control your patience with comentators and can't resist whacking those unpublish commentators, something is wrong with you. Thats not a fair game. Readers can't read the comments but yet you are answering the comments.

And if bloggers can't handle being dished back, after you've dish someone, I suggest you clsoe your commentary box and fade away or immediately quit blogging.

Being fair is a common sensical thing to do. I may not believe there should be any hard and fast code of conduct or ethics in blogging but there is already many unstated ground rule in blogging.

For instance, what is off-line must stay off-line and should not be disclosed online.

One had an argument with another blogger in a pub. That argument should remain so. If need be you wish to discuss THE CONTENT, then discuss the content and not whack the other guy so you get your comentator to join to whack him. That's down right low.

One blogger join a group of bloggers and one said something in jest. The blogger didn't participate or dispute the comment, but return to his or her laptop and called them names. Thats not quite right. It is more wrong if you name names.

The point I am getting at is bloggers or other bloggers should not be subject of your posting but merely the views expressed. It is similar to what is usually requested as to "NOT SHOOT THE MESSENGER" but if you need to be critical, shoot the message.

Some years back, there was an old commentator who was hogging the comentary of several blogs. His frank manner or rather too frank words attracted a legion of haters. Some came to his defense. Eventually, it truly became "bloggers at war" (not like the current one, Bujai).

In the midst of the exchanges, one blogger revealed the commentator's private life. The blogger was once invited to his home and the comentator revealed aspects of his not-so-usual private life. It was in poor taste.

This leads to my reservation of Rashid Yusof's appointment as Press Secretary to DPM. When I wrote it, my only consideration is Tan Sri Muhyiddin, the party and the nation. Other matters are in consequential, even how sympathetic it sounds. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I am entitled to mine. For that, I got a fair dishing by journo-bloggers who seemed protective of their comrades.

Thats fine with me. However, I think it is not fine, when a particular journalist with an anonymous blog, resort to accuse us of being mercenary blogger taking money from politician to write what we do not believe in. I know many does it and it is their business. That I am not. I would rather starve then sell my soul to the highest bidder and fought for something I do not believe in.

It seemed as though Rashid was a subject matter that no one can question or discuss. And those who do deserve the unlimited fury. Even rubbishing Khairy did not open one to such retaliation. Mind you Khairy is the much hated one which Sakmongkol described as Darth Vader.

I have no way of gauging if it is coordinated or otherwise, but I am aware that Rashid has many friends amongst bloggers and journalists. It went to the point where one Khairy funded portal, KPMU exposed a picture and wrote an extensive personal attack as though we are motivated to destroy Rashid Yusof's career. That is untrue and does not need repetition.

Subsequently, Sakmongkol put up the same picture in a rib-tickling posting to reveal the persons in the picture. Since he just started blogging, he may not be aware of the blogger and the comentator incident. He said he had no malice tic-for-tac intention.

But the common sense thing to do was to seek the person's concern permission before hand. Maybe he is not ready yet to be de-anonymous.

There is one blogger who keep insisting others must not be anonymous. If not for common courtesy, I would love to tell him it is none of your fucking business how others wish to be made known in the Internet.

The Internet provides for anonymity and everyone has their own reason for being anonymous. It could be for privacy or occupational security or publicity shy or whatever. The common sense is to respect other's anonimity.

As for myself, my identity is known in certain circle but I only wanted it at that. Simply, I am not envious to be famous or be a public figure or be high profile like Mukhriz or Khairy or Rashid Yusof. Simply, I do not wish my life be watched by suspecting eyes. My dressing and conduct to be under public scrutiny. I WOULD NOT HAVE GIVEN PERMISSION to have my pictures revealed!

I only blog to have my views heard and not myself known. With me unknown, it is only the content that is known. If one is known, it is so cheap trick for opponents to your views to resort to personal attack rather than discussing the content. That is what KPMU and the blog Walk the Talk did to Big Dog.

Sad to say, that UMNO bloggers are the worst at these kind of personal attacks. I have been in blogging for many years and my identity is known amongst non Malay and opposition bloggers but not one resort to reveal my name and pictures. We are known to opposition politicians bloggers, our arch opponent Anwar Ibrahim and now opponent but still friend Raja Petra but they did not resort to reveal names, pictures and do a personal attack on us.

Sad ... But if it is a mistake, it is a mistake. If otherwise, it is otherwise. It can't be undone.

I am made to understand that Rashid denied saying words of resuscitating Khairy through Tan Sri's office. I still stand by my/our source/(s). Nevertheless, I have no problem to apologise if it is untrue.

But I must correct his words quoted in Bujai's blog. His life is not determined by bloggers. Our views is not so significant to change things by ourselves. It was Tan Sri's decision. No two bloggers can change the decision of a man of his stature. I know for a fact that Tan Sri received many calls and SMSes.

Quite reluctantly, perhaps it is timely to start pondering some ground rules for blogging. It should be a bare minimal and not similar to the strict journalism code. My suggestion for ground rule is simple - common sense and common courtesy. It include fair play, honesty, transparency and good values.

OK with that Bujai?


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