Anonymous Watchdawggies beware!In the book of Matthew, Jesus gives us advice on allowing our words to be our own, that our “yes” should be “yes”, and our “no” should be “no” – with no other need of qualification. This teaching is an underlying biblical precept behind journalistic integrity. One needs to be willing to give an answer that is a) truthful; and b) one’s own.

There has been some discussion on the use of anonymity in posting and replying to blog articles, from which I have held off fully delving into. I’ve taken some time to check out journalistic sources, written and living, and having done so, I think that it is incredibly important that we in the Christian blogging community consider our theory and practice.

Blogging and Reporting

Per a number of journalistic courses, one of the lynchpins of journalistic integrity is that of attribution (or authorship for opinion pieces). If controversial statements cannot be attributed to a source, or opinion to a writer, trust with the reader does not exist. This is why there are such strict rules within journalism about attributing sources that wish to remain anonymous – if there is a legitimate reason to maintain anonymity, the quote and source have to be validated by a more senior editor.

In the case of editorial opinion, attribution is also the keystone of integrity. Without it, no writer is accountable for his or her written opinions. Without it, the writer is free to be as irresponsible as they wish to be without fear of consequence. For a journalist, it is an ultimate act of cowardice to withold signature to your opinion and the ultimate act of arrogance to sign your name to something you didn’t write.

The one primary exception for opinion pieces and group reporting is given for editorial board opinions and journalist pool articles, in which no individual authorship is given, and is assumed to be attributed to the senior editor/reporter of the board/pool. If they refuse this responsibility, then authorship is to be attributed to all individuals contributing to the story. Sometimes, this is done anyway, to give credit where credit is due.

What does this mean for us? Initially, we had an account called “Sliced” used for linking articles, and we used our names to identify original articles. For similar reasons to those above, we did away with this posting account. For ODM bloggers, there are some with this level of integrity and accountability, while there are others that completely lack this basic level of integrity and accountability. When individuals from the latter are taken to task for the anonymously written content on their site, they just throw up their hands and pass the buck of responsibility, taking the coward’s way out, saying “sorry, it wasn’t me”. Even the most senior editor. Getting someone to stand up for their own words is like trying to nail jell-o to a wall (which, interestingly, is one of their chief criticisms of the e/e movement…)

However, since accountability isn’t an ODM strong suit, this shouldn’t be surprising.

Commenting

In blogging, one of the basest – often the only – source of accountability is the use of comments. By allowing (or disallowing) comments, bloggers signal their willingness (or unwillingness) to be held accountable for what they write. Worse yet, the willingness to freely allow supportive comments while severely restricting dissenting ones is a clear signal of bankruptcy of accountability (and a lack of confidence in their own writing).

In light of this, we at CRN.info have a “DO NOT DELETE COMMENTS” policy* to which we adhere. We both allow and value well-reasoned dissent, particular when offered in a fashion congruent with Jesus’ and Paul’s teaching.

What about anonymity in commenting? Originally, we required people to register on this site before accepting their comments. However, this prevented people with no personal email accounts from participating, so we relaxed our policy to “moderation of the first comment, and auto-approval thereafter”. To this point, this seems to have worked. However, if it appears that people are using this function to hide behind anonymity, this will revert back to required registration with a functioning email address.

In Summary

We believe that integrity and accountability on the part of Christian bloggers, ourselves included, is a bedrock principle that should be expected of us. We believe that our “yes” should be “yes”, and our “no” should be “no” – and that the reader should know WHO’S saying “yes” or “no”. Without attribution of content and an open and free playing field on which to challenge what we have written, this accountability and integrity is utterly absent.

That is why we manage this site the way we do.

___________________________

*The exceptions to this policy are for use of overt blasphemy and/or profanity. There have been two instances where comments that should not have been deleted (or should have been approved from moderation) were not, both of which were subsequently apologized for and corrected, to the best of our ability

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 10th, 2007 at 3:42 pm and is filed under Commenting, ODM Policies, ODM Responses, Original Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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12 Comments(+Add)

1   M.G.    
September 11th, 2007 at 10:22 am

Ken’s new post “The new Global Humanitarian” is a word for word reposting of the “article” he links to, without quotation marks. This seems a bit fishy. I think that, at the least, you should stick some quotation marks up there and acknowledge that your post contains zero original content.

Ken, I’m also still interested in seeing if you can provide a link that contains working audio of the Aspen Institute of Ideas. I’d like to hear the context of Rick Warren’s comments about followers of Christ in other religions.

2   Tim Reed    http://theotstrikesback.com
September 11th, 2007 at 10:27 am

Especially since he’s using wordpress which contains a built in blockquote feature, one that Ken has used in the past.

3   M.G.    
September 11th, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Another strange thing… Ken’s post on “Consumerism the Musical” is a copy of a post at Extreme Theology, with no quotation marks or attribution.

Is this common for Ken? Is Extreme Theology another version of CRN making this practice okay? Or is it suspicious? I don’t know enough about blogging etiquette to have an opinion on this. It just seems a little weird.

4   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 11th, 2007 at 2:44 pm

Extreme Theology is a blog run by Chris Rosebrough who sometimes comments here so he and Ken probably have an understanding.

5   Ken Silva    http://www.apprising.org
September 11th, 2007 at 2:59 pm

“he and Ken probably have an understanding.”

Or it could be I didn’t post “Consumerism the Musical.” And I didn’t. M.G. fails yet again in an attempt to discredit me.

Not that you won’t but keep tyring…

6   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 11th, 2007 at 3:04 pm

Well I cleared it up, I apologize for assuming it was you. I would have no problem with you as Chief Editor having an understanding with the other writers without being formal.

I have no problem steal…I mean borrowing from the other guys!

7   Ken Silva    http://www.apprising.org
September 11th, 2007 at 3:13 pm

Well now, I know you guyz here at CRN.(Mis)Info? are the most ethical of the ethical and undoubtedly researchers par excellence. Any chance you might have noticed the post was made by Chris Rosebrough himself?

Published September 11th, 2007 by Chris Rosebrough

Consumerism, The Musical

So Rick, have you a problem “steal…I mean borrowing from” himself?! Or does he have to clear that with you here first?

8   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 11th, 2007 at 3:17 pm

A joke, Ken, a joke about me not you. I believe you’re familiar with my non-humorous side, right?

9   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 11th, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Funny, Ken, how all of your euphamisms were never developed by you, but yet run into the ground by you, whether mimicing our use of C?N, or my orignal usages of “obtuse”, or Bell’s “warped and toxic”, or Chris R.’s “Informercial Theology” or Eliot’s Hollow Men…

Do you have any original thoughts, or are really just a parasitic shill?

Interestingly, you have commented twice on this thread, but neither time on the actual content, which exposes the lack of integrity or accountability at the base level on the site that you are the “General Editor”, but yet take no responsibility for the content…

10   M.G.    
September 11th, 2007 at 3:34 pm

Ken,

It was not an attempt to discredit you. I’ve never made a single comment trying to “bring you down” as if this were Watergate. I’m sure you’re a great guy in a lot of ways and you probably have more integrity than I do. Seriously.

Here, I was just asking a question and you answered it. So I thank you.

I guess I was naive in coming here and thinking that you’d listen to a thing I had to say. I was hoping you’d see that with a few changes, your site and Ingrid’s site could be so much better, and could bring so much more glory to God. A few simple changes could eliminate much of the criticism you garner here, for example. And how much energy in a day do you waste, Ken, engaging in all this petty fighting, and how does that glorify the One whom we both serve?

You win, Ken. I won’t disabuse you of the notion that I’m a stupid individual, just trying to bring you down because I’m evil and you’re good. I don’t know how to break that kind of logic.

All I know is that every exchange with you has been so misguided, so fruitless, that in the end it just breaks my heart.

With love,
M.G.

11   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
September 11th, 2007 at 4:34 pm

M.G.

Man, been there and done that with Ken… it seems he really does not care to make his site better and give more accurate and more readily accessible links and such… he only takes things all personal… such as in a recent comment on chris’s blog where chris asked him about Ken’s “music” career on a post about “music”.. it was sad to see Ken so insecure.

I think he over compensates for his insecurities at times… to be wrong is a sign of weakness to him… to say sorry is worse… but he did give me a “rose”… and truly I took that as an apology even if he did not mean it that way.

Yet, he still needs to be accountible for his words… as the book of James teaches… and as a self proclaimed teacher, he need be even more careful as the bible warns.

Be Blessed,
iggy

12   Scott Ragan    http://www.verumserum.com
September 14th, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Chris,

Nice overview of common decency and expression in the blogosphere. Though the comments here have mainly focused on the good “Reverend,” there is a lot of unattributed writing and commenting that goes on out there. Ken just happens to be one of those people who provide the most obvious/egregious examples of hiding behind titles and labels in order to avoid criticism while simultaneously giving the appearance of speaking from a position of authority.

John and I wrote a chapter for the Wikiklesia Project that touches on one aspect of this whole discussion, namely the need to avoid the temptations of anonymity and instead embrace full discloser and transparency. The book is called “Voices of the Virtual World: Participative Technology and the Ecclesial Revolution” and can be found at Lulu.com at this link – http://stores.lulu.com/wikiklesia. Our chapter is called “Visible Church for an Invisible World.” (not a shameless plug…just connecting one aspect of this issue to another)