Science blogging conf.: Ethics, please

Do science bloggers need a code of ethics? Should they disclose conflicts of interest? Moderate comments? Protect anonymous colleagues?

By | January 19, 2008

Do science bloggers need a code of ethics? Should they disclose conflicts of interest? Moderate comments? Protect anonymous colleagues? Those were some of the questions raised at the first session, led by linkurl:Janet Stemwedel, ; that I went to today at the linkurl:North Carolina Science Blogging Conference. ; It's the second such conference, and I was stimulated enough by last year's to come back. (I even got linkurl:this story; out of it.) I'll post a few more items from it throughout the day. What struck me about the discussion of science blogging ethics was that it seemed to keep coming back to what we journalists do well or badly, compared to how bloggers do it. I mentioned that, and Stemwedel's response was telling: Consider that science journalists are parents, and science bloggers are teenagers. The bloggers don't really want to be like their parents, but they know journalists have been at this for a while and might have something to offer as they make their way. Other blogging communities have considered the ethics code question, and have come up with various responses -- many hostile. It of course depends on what communities bloggers come from. Are they journalists? In that case, maybe they should follow these draft codes at ; Others might like linkurl:O'Reilly's draft. ; What I suggested was a science blogging ethics code wiki. That's quite a mouthful, I realize, but the idea was met with enough enthusiasm that Stemwedel said she would figure out how to make it happen somewhere on the conference site -- itself a wiki. Someone else suggested that rather than think about this as a code of ethics, bloggers should consider it a description of best practices. That makes perfect sense to me -- it's similar to what Gary Schwitzer, my colleague at the Association of Health Care Journalists, used in our linkurl:Statement of Principles; when our organization was grappling with similar issues -- so I'd consider that the first non-electronic entry on the wiki. You can join the discussion linkurl:here; or by posting a comment on this blog. UPDATE (Jan. 21, 1:45 p.m. EST): The wiki I suggested has started, visit it linkurl:here. ;

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