Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Blogs - do I dare to allow comments to remain?

Today's Post-Gazette has an article by Corilyn Shropshire entitled "Blogs vs. the law."

The article discusses the lawsuit of Traffic-Power.com against blogger Aaron Law. The lawsuit is over comments by others that allegedly were defamatory and revealed trade secrets.

According to the article, Ian McAnerin, a consultant and blogger says, "The speed at which blogs are updated and comments can be made on them makes it very difficult to have editorial control."

I'm probably going to bring down the wrath of many other bloggers when I disagree. The speed with which changes can be made to content on the internet gives all internet publishers, including bloggers, a remarkable level of editorial control.

Consider this. A local newspaper publishes an issue with a humiliatingly obvious typo in a front page headline. It is not feasible to reclaim the thousands of printed copies of the paper that have already hit the streets. But the paper does have a website where some of its content is a pdf version of the front page. It takes barely minutes to correct the front page for web publication. The paper decides that correcting the web publication is a worthy use of time.

Those of us having been subjected to spam attacks know how quickly morons the morally disadvantaged commenters can litter our blogs with off-point commentary and ad hominem attacks. While it may be difficult to prevent such misbehavior, we bloggers do have editorial control over whether the material remains on our blogs.

Aaron Law says that when he received a cease and desist order from the plaintiff's attorneys, he decided it would take too much time to comply. Maybe it would have taken a lot of time, but I don't buy his argument. It takes time to remove comments that I don't want to appear on my own blog, but I take that time if the comments make my blog look like something other than I intend. It takes only a couple clicks of my mouse.

We bloggers should be proactive about editing and removing harmful material from our blogs. When a lawyer has taken the time to name specific material that we should remove, we should take the time to consider the request and edit our blogs, if appropriate, or be prepared to face the consequences.

Update 10-08-05. Ian McAnerin, quoted above, has a discussion of his opinion on his blog.

File under : , ,

No comments: