July 21, 2005


Weblog Ethics Survey Results (The Blog Boyz, July 19, 2005)

Report Summary:

As the prevalence and social influence of weblogs continue to increase, the issue of the ethics of bloggers is relevant not only to the blogging community, but also to people outside it.

This study explored ethical beliefs and practices of two distinct groups of bloggers--personal and non-personal--through a worldwide web survey. Over a period of three weeks, 1,224 responses were collected and analysed.

Our findings show that these two groups are distinctively different in demographics, blogging experiences, and habits. We also found that there are significant differences between personal and non-personal bloggers in terms of the ethical beliefs they value and the ethical practices to which they adhere.

Key Findings:

Our findings indicate that 73% of the bloggers surveyed said that their weblogs are personal while the remaining 27% said that their weblogs are non-personal. Further investigation of, these two groups revealed many significant differences between personal and non-personal bloggers.


Non-personal bloggers are typically older males, with more formal years of education than personal bloggers.

Blogging Experiences and Habits

Non-personal bloggers tend to have more readers, update their weblogs more frequently, and spend more time on their weblogs.

Non-personal bloggers’ reasons for blogging, the people whom they write about, and their primary intended audience are also different from those of personal bloggers.

Ethical Beliefs and Practices

Personal and non-personal bloggers value and adhere to four ethical principles differently. For instance, personal bloggers believe that minimizing harm is more important than non-personal bloggers.

For both groups of bloggers, they believe attribution is the most important and accountability the least important.

The degree of association between ethical beliefs and practices is different for personal and non-personal bloggers: in general, the level of correspondence between what people believe and what they do is higher for non-personal bloggers than personal bloggers.

Both types of bloggers are quite ambivalent about whether any kind of a code is necessary.

The findings in our study indicated that personal and non-personal bloggers are indeed distinct groups of bloggers. Their demographics, blogging experiences and habits, as well as ethical beliefs and practices are different.

In addition, bloggers currently do not see a strong need for a blogging code of ethics. A code of ethics may be more valued and adhered to when bloggers’ themselves see a stronger need for it.

Also, the four ethical principles have different relevance to personal and non-personal bloggers and researchers should take that into consideration if they attempt to devise new codes of ethics for blogging.

Here are the rules we try to follow, with intermittent success:

(1) No profanity.

(2) Minimal self-reference (though none would be unnatural)

(3) Minimal linking to other blogs.

(4) Minimal reference to comments. (Folks who write comments don't get to do so on the front page, so we try not to write about them on the front.)

(5) Try--though I'm bad about this myself--to only quote about three paragraphs, or no more than a third, of any story you blog. We want folks to go read it at the site that owns it. But if you need to use more to make the excerpt make sense, no problem.

(6) Never let it interfere with real life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 21, 2005 12:00 AM

To paraphrase Meatloaf: "5 out of 6 ain't bad." Thanks once again for your blog.

Question: Why #3? Lots of good original writing and analysis out there, like Belmont Club, Austin Bay or StrategyPage?

Posted by: Rick T. at July 21, 2005 9:16 AM

Why did no one tell me of this #6?

Posted by: David Cohen at July 21, 2005 9:25 AM


There's nothing less interesting this side of soccer than A commenting on what B wrote about what C had to say about A's post on gun rights on our Mars' colony.

Anyone reading this who cares what any of those others have to say will have visited them first.

Posted by: oj at July 21, 2005 9:30 AM

I'm guessing that personal blogging is dominated by women.

David, #6 assumes that you have a real life.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at July 21, 2005 10:11 AM

Robert: That's what's confusing me. How is it at all relevent to BrothersJudd?

Posted by: David Cohen at July 21, 2005 11:34 AM

#6a But it's okay to interfere with the real life of the readers. (by getting them hooked.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 21, 2005 11:49 AM

What's a real life?

Posted by: erp at July 21, 2005 12:07 PM

Real life is what happens while you're waiting.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 21, 2005 2:00 PM

for what?

Posted by: oj at July 21, 2005 2:59 PM


Posted by: David Cohen at July 21, 2005 3:01 PM

It is true that most of us are likely to see a Instapundit post. But are most of us likely to see a Geitner Simmons post? Not according to the traffic numbers I have seen == and Simmons does some very fine posts.

So I think there is a good argument for linking to good posts at blogs that not everyone reads. It is a lot of work, but so is reading the New York Times on line.

(Others should feel free to add the names of other bloggers who do not have high traffic numbers but are worth reading.)

Posted by: Jim Miller at July 21, 2005 6:59 PM

Jim, Do you have a link to Geitner Simmons? I always like to read a new point of view.

Posted by: erp at July 21, 2005 7:22 PM

Geinter is at http://regionsofmind.blog-city.com/

He posts infrequently at the moment, but his monthly bursts of activity are something to look forward to.

Posted by: Timothy at July 21, 2005 9:28 PM

One thing I have noticed in my travels through the blogosphere, is that i keep seeing some of the same folks. E.G. Sandy P. who posts here frequently also shows at Chicagoboyz, where I post frequently.

It would be interesting to compare our lists of most visited sites.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 22, 2005 1:53 AM

Other than here I visit the Corner, Powerline and Across Difficult Country. Don't make comments anywhere else though.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at July 22, 2005 5:57 AM

here is the only place i comment
Lucianne (i read the comments there when i want to read ignorant people venting at dowd et als)
Captain's Quarters
The Dignified Rant
Belmont Club
Winds of Change
The Corner (a suck-up club of the first order)
Hugh Hewitt

Posted by: cjm at July 22, 2005 10:00 AM