Blogger Code of Conduct: Good Idea, but Would It Work?

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UPDATED: 4/6/07, 1:20 p.m.

An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the website on which threats to Kathy Sierra were posted. The threats were not posted on www.Rageboy.com. The threats were originally posted on Sierra's blog and other comments and images were posted on meankids.org. The identity of the poster(s) of the threats and comments is unknown.

The blogosphere is erupting with calls for a code of conduct, even prosecution, following a spate of antiwoman hate postings. The most recent incident involves technology blogger Kathy Sierra, who canceled public appearances and stopped her blog after receiving threatening graphics of nooses and lewd sexual descriptions of what those posting planned to do to her.

This incident and a seeming rise in antifemale hate rhetoric online raise the question whether a code of conduct or censorship is in order, to make the Web a safer place for women, who are the majority of online users.

EMarketer.com reports that 51 percent of Internet users are women.

Personally, I don't believe a self-imposed code of conduct for bloggers will make a dent. Neither, most likely, will a threat of prosecution by federal and state authorities. But at least it creates a sledge-hammer-like effect for potential perpetrators to fear. The FBI reports fewer than 10,000 "hate crimes" were reported to authorities in 2003, the most recent year for which data are available.