odd-lot thoughts

Monday, August 29, 2005

Be careful out there -- a blogger gets sued.

There's some controversy swirling around the blog world the last few days. Apparently, a blogger is being sued over comments someone left on one of his blogs. Amy Gahran's post on this subject is one of the most comprehensive I've found. This issue is understandably making a lot of bloggers nervous and concerned, and has sparked a lot of conversations about liability, libel, and free speech. Some bloggers are seriously considering turning off the comment function in their blogs.

We bloggers do have to be concerned and aware of this problem, but turning off comments in an effort to play it safe would be a mistake. Here's why.

  • Comments on blogs are one of the ways we hear what others want to say to us. Yes, we'll also hear from a few wackos, spammers, and other internet creatures of the night. But those problems can be mitigated and they do not outweigh the value gained.

  • We can't play it safe, anyway. There's just no way of knowing who will be offended by something and no way of completely bullet-proofing your blog. Even staying silent has its risks, as the Kryptonite lock company discovered.

Blogging is still a new phenomenon and there will be problems, like this bullying by lawsuit, which will arise and be worked out in the days to come.


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