The only real asset possessed by media outlets is their reputation. The trust placed by an audience in output is what makes this entire hobbyist media landscape work. Without a reputation that warrants trust, we’re nothing. Such reputations takes a lifetime to build and can be irrevocably destroyed in a heartbeat. Most of us are not formally trained journalists or ethicists, and it can be easy to make mistakes that lead to reputational harm. My goal with this is to provide a voluntary standard for ethical conduct so as to protect creators and permit audiences a reliable frame of reference for the parameters of appropriate behaviour. It was written with reference to existing professional and hobbyist codes of conduct. These are listed in the bibliography. The code is presented under a CC-BY 4.0 licence. It is amendable to adoption and modification by anyone that wishes to use it.
For queries, in the first instance please consult our list of Frequently Imagined Questions.
The following represents the key principles that this code is intended to encapsulate.
Honesty, Accuracy and Professionalism
We are not professionals in the technical sense of the term. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to behave professionally. We must ensure honest and accurate content, and be receptive and reactive to concerns about the same. We accept that our coverage may be contentious. We ensure that we are in a position to be able to substantiate all factual claims that we make in the work that we do. We understand that are working in a public commons, and as such we strive to ensure that we do not diminish trust in the collective by virtue of sensationalist or exploitative practices.
Fairness and Authenticity
By virtue of having a platform, it’s important to ensure that credible and unreasonable harm to others is minimized and that there are processes in place to ensure redress can be sought. We should aim to ensure that we are fairly commenting upon an issue, offering directly affected parties a suitable right to reply. The work that we do may have a permanent presence on the Internet that survives initial public interest, and we must be mindful of that fact.
Accreditation of Contribution
We do not plagiarize. We cite external contributions, and honour the licences of external assets. If a piece of work was sufficiently relevant to our coverage to warrant a link, it also warrants that link being dofollow. Where we draw information from informal sources such as social media, we should also be respectful of the expectations of visibility associated with those platforms. Tweets are public information. Facebook posts usually have a more selective audience. When we post content outside its expected readership we anonymise and remove all information that would personally identify the source to those outside that expected readership.
Transparency and Avoidance of Conflicts of Interest
We acknowledge there is a conflict of interest when we provide opinion based judgement on products or topics in which we have a financial interest. We avoid all avoidable conflicts of interest, and disclose unavoidable conflicts of interest. We avoid any dangerous blurring of the line between promotional and opinion content, and prominently disclose any financial support that has been instrumental in the production of content. We refuse gifts or payment in exchange for opinions, with the exception of review material that is necessary for the informed generation of those opinions. Where review material is solicited or accepted, it will be rejected if it comes with obligations with regards to the nature of opinions formed.
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