Code of Conduct Won't Address Fat Hatred
Not long ago, lots of folks in the blogging community (don't say blogosphere... don't say blogosphere...) watched as popular blogger Kathy Sierra found herself on the end of anonymous death threats. This in turn caused Tim O'Reilly to suggest a Bloggers' Code of Conduct.
Not everything there is bad advice, truthfully. I'm of the mindset that this isn't fully necessary (and, you know, there's no planned way to enforce it), but there's an issue here related to fat hatred. Even if you do as O'Reilly suggests and take out the anonymous comments on your blog, you're still going to have people posting anti-fat crap under their own names.
And that's a big problem. Those of you who have been with the site since the early days know that our entire registration system was born out of problems with anonymous commenters. People were ignoring them, over time, but trolls evolved from silly one-liners to really, truly hateful things. While there wasn't anything at the level that Kathy Sierra experienced taking place here at BFB pre-registration, lots of people who ran fat-positive blogs had similar experiences.
Even getting rid of anonymous comments and allowing registration doesn't necessarily solve the issue. Not terribly long ago someone posed as me on a fat blog, and the owners of the site didn't do anything about it, even after I asked them to do so. They didn't have to. While the Code of Conduct addresses that, a lack of enforcement means that bloggers can be as responsible or irresponsible as they'd like.
On top of that, getting rid of anonymous comments won't do a lot of good for our cause is because we, as a society, give people a free pass when it comes to fat. So you have newspaper op-ed pieces and the like out there by fat bigots who sign their names. Obviously they don't care about anonymity in part because they don't fear retribution.
The Code of Conduct, if it were to become something real and enforced, would definitely need to address the overly anti-fat, anti-women feelings that are common amongst bloggers. It doesn't begin to do so. And I won't even let it slide that the domain which will eventually host the Code of Conduct was purchased from Go Daddy, whose advertising is extremely degrading to women.
O'Reilly's heart is in the right place, but it'd be nice to see him address the underlying issues instead of just asking us all to play nice. [See also this great post at Alas, a Blog.]