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Fat Guy

eG Ethics code

100 posts in this topic

Does eGullet consider the requirement for reader comments essential to operating an ethical website?

There are lots of ways to operate an ethical website. A website that doesn't allow for user comments, however, might have trouble satisfying the fair-comment provision of the eG Ethics code.

Declaring comps or not accepting comps and citing/crediting sources are obvious ethical concerns. I do not see how fair comment is an ethical matter.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I have noticed that most industries adopt some sort of 'Ethics" code after they have found the finger in the cookie jar, [Puns aren't intended but that won't stop me from realizing a few must occur]

I don't read many of the Restaurant writings here or even on the few blogs that talk about Seattle restaurants so, I guess much of this has gone by me. I like the idea of ethics but find the need on the internet more a joke than useful.

Codes are of no use unless they are enforceable. How will you enforce this code and not run off those who simply don't follow that Moderator's party line?

I need not bore you by going further, the bold above says most of what I believe.

Also I like the Idea of a bit of some"anti-flame" Mod Help. Opining can get TOO lusty at times.


Robert

Seattle

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Codes are of no use unless they are enforceable.

This point has already been addressed, but I'd simply add that on its face the comment makes little sense. We could cite hundreds of codes that are not enforceable, such as the ethics of any religion if you live in a secular state, but we don't call those codes "useless." In addition, as has already been explained, a certain amount of "enforcement" may come from peer pressure, media attention and a website's user-commenting process.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I do not see how fair comment is an ethical matter.

That's kind of why we used the word "fair"!

The interactivity that the internet allows is probably the best means of keeping websites honest. Websites that seek to provide one-way information, on the old media model, should probably look to codes of ethics designed for old media. Websites that allow for interactivity may find the eG Ethics code, which incorporates interactive discussion, to be useful. The code doesn't call for totally unfettered commenting opportunities, just fair ones. There can be moderation, there can be terms of service, there can be rules requiring civil comment etc. But in the end fair comment must be allowed under the code. For example, if a restaurant is criticized, the owner must be allowed to respond.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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As someone who is a professional journalist, what I like about the blog format is that it is the opportunity to not have to hold myself to those same standards as in my paying work.

I can see why you might not want to hold yourself to the same standards of rigor in editing. The blog format, and online writing in general, allows for more spontaneity than that and usually there aren't even editors involved.

But none of that removes the need for ethics. A lot of people who write online never stop to think that, once they click the publish button, their words are available worldwide for anyone to read. They are instant global publishers. Wonderful advances in technology have made that a reality. But as with many technological advances, our thinking about ethics needs to catch up. If you're an instant global publisher you should act responsibly. That's what we're trying to help with.

Those who write online should also realize that, as much as they want it to be a casual thing, the second they publish their words globally, they can be called to account for copyright-law violations, defamation, invasion of privacy and various other acts. A little planning ahead, a little thinking about responsible conduct, can help prevent some really unpleasant surprises.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Those who write online should also realize that, as much as they want it to be a casual thing, the second they publish their words globally, they can be called to account for copyright-law violations, defamation, invasion of privacy and various other acts. A little planning ahead, a little thinking about responsible conduct, can help prevent some really unpleasant surprises.

In regard to your last paragraph, absolutely. People "ought" to think about what they write before they hit the publish button. It's much the same as all the media attention that social networking sites have gotten about how many people publish intimate or bizarre details about themselves or their workplaces or schools on places like MySpace of Facebook without thinking about the consequences. And again, I don't have a problem with people being ethical and thinking about what they're about to write, or anything related. My concern is not at all that - people can choose to be as ethical or as responsible as they like, and sure, I'd love it if many of the folk out there were more so than they are....

My concern is that eGullet, or the young ladies who've published the other code proposal (curious publicity timing just before they release a book, no?) are inadvertently setting themselves up to be a de facto reference standard that will appear to the public to be some sort of official or professional standard that an individual blog is either "living up to" or not. It's irrelevant that neither intends to be that, it's simply whether or not their mere existence creates that impression. Badge or not, there will always be those who hold themselves to a more professional standard and those to a lesser, but the badge shouldn't take on the appearance of a seal of approval... which, if it catches on at all, it likely, and unfortunately, will. I also think that bloggers who take on the badge or whatever code they officially state, are setting themselves up for many of the things you mention - one of the things that professional journalists, restaurateurs and chefs, and others have been lamenting for the last few years is that by virtue of the fact that bloggers are amateurs and not beholden to an ethical code, they are basically untouchable for their subjective comments. Publicly state that you agree to be held to professional standards and just wait for the first restaurateur or chef who gets slammed to decide to sue for defamation or loss of revenue (whether accurate or not) - it's happened to professional food critics, who often have the pockets of a paper behind them to cover legal expenses, and generally win, but how many bloggers could handle that?


SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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I'm not sure I get that last point, Saltshaker. You can be sued for defamation without publicly stating you agree to bound by a set of professional standards. I don't see what the standards have to do with the claim.

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I don't get any of saltshaker's points, but that last one is especially ill-conceived. Defamation does indeed exist in the law regardless of what standards a writer proclaims. You're no less liable for not having a code of ethics. Our hope, however, is that writers who follow the eG Ethics code will expose themselves to less risk of all kinds of legal action than writers who follow no code. That much seems like a no-brainer.

The fear that somehow the eG Ethics badge will be so powerful that its absence will become a stigma is, while interesting, hard to take seriously. I can only hope it becomes that powerful and that we have to start worrying about how to explain that it's not a stigma not to display the badge. I think our main challenge will be building awareness and getting people to adopt it in the first place, though.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have some issues with codes of ethics in general. A code isn't going to be responsive to individual situations. It will leave out a number of cases. I addressed my concerns with the Food Blog Code of Ethicson my blog. I have some of the same concerns about this one. Some are different, though:

Respect for intellectual property. All text, photos and other media from outside sources is republished only with the explicit permission of its owner or in compliance with an applicable license (e.g., Creative Commons), with the exception of brief quotations from written works in the context of discussing those works.

Is there a reason that this is much more stringent than fair use?

Links where credit is due. Where the creator of content referenced on this website has made it possible to link to that content, a link is given here. Where books are referenced, links are provided to allow purchase. In general, links are favored over reproduction of content.

I do not see the point of this. If, for example, I am writing something critical of a book that I do not believe deserves to be purchased, why should I link to a place to purchase it?

Also, for individual users, how does this fit with policies like those here at the eGullet forums where reproduction of content is preferred rather than linking back to ones own blog?

Disclosure of comps. Where a free or discounted product or service has been accepted, a corresponding disclosure is made.

Presumably only if you are writing about that product or service, yes? If someone sends me something unsolicited and I do not write about it, I should not be required to disclose that they sent me something.

Fair comment. This website allows registered users to comment on the content contained herein. Free and fair comment will be permitted so long as it is civil and conforms to this website's terms of service, including this document.

Not all websites should be required to allow comments.To say otherwise presumes a great deal about the purpose of that site. Moreover, "free" comment is ambiguous. What about comment moderation? By my account, eGullet does not allow free comment, there is a process that needs to be gone through before the ability to comment is granted.

Fact checking. The author of any factual statement on this website has made a good-faith effort to confirm the accuracy of that statement. Statements of opinion, however, are just that.

What about websites that are intentionally tongue-in-cheek? What about those that take an outrageous tone? As long as they are up-front about these things, is that a problem?

Faithfulness to the historical record. This site has an edit window of X minutes to permit correction of typographical, spelling, attribution and minor errors. Neither this window nor administrative powers will be used to remove or alter content in a way that distorts the historical development of any content, except when the terms of service have been violated. Even then, due care will be taken to restore the content so as to preserve the record.

Say I have a popular blog post on a topic. I find out that a fact in that blog post is incorrect. Shouldn't I update it?

Revision.  This code will be revised, updated and clarified from time to time. The latest version of the code along with elaboration and discussion can be found at LINK.

This is problematic unless you maintain earlier versions as well and allow people to sign on to a specific version. Someone might sign on to 1.0 - but not be willing to follow the changes that you make between 1.0 and 2.0. Retaining them as a signatory to the updated code would be unethical.

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The point, and clearly you both don't agree, but so be it, is that by claiming that you agree to be bound by a set code of ethics that's laid out there for everyone to see, it is more likely that someone will go after you for violation of that code than if you've not stated it. No, it doesn't change what they could do under the law in terms of filing a suit (at least within U.S. law), but that badge is akin to painting a target on yourself - not always the best move, you know? From your perspective, the code makes it less likely that people will be sued, or whatever form of castigation we may wish to conceive of, from my perspective it makes it more likely. Perhaps it's because we live in different cultures and things are done differently (and, U.S. laws are not the only ones out there - you didn't propose this as a code of ethics only for bloggers in the U.S.).

Look, none of this may come to pass. Steven, you may be correct and that the badge or code of ethics here will more or less come to nought outside of the eGullet world - and obviously, I hope that's the case, no offense intended. But I think it's disingenous of you to pretend that you're not really hoping for it to come to more than that and that you don't expect something to come of it - otherwise, why bother to present it at all? Though we don't know each other, you've never struck me as someone who just blurts out ideas haphazardly with no intent other than to show that he can - in which case, logically, you're hoping that what I've suggested indeed does come to pass. If all you were hoping for was that people would think about what they post, you could have done it as a discussion thread of those ideas rather than a code with a proposed badge.


Edited by saltshaker (log)

SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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My concern is that eGullet, or the young ladies who've published the other code proposal (curious publicity timing just before they release a book, no?) are inadvertently setting themselves up to be a de facto reference standard that will appear to the public to be some sort of official or professional standard that an individual blog is either "living up to" or not. It's irrelevant that neither intends to be that, it's simply whether or not their mere existence creates that impression.
That will be true only to the extent that the "market place" demands it. Even Fat Guy, who is clearly in favor of these guidelines, seems to doubt that they will be that influential. So do I.

Of course, it is worth noting that eGullet and the other site have not made identical proposals. They do intersect in a number of ways, but they also have significant differences. The other site, for instance, argues that a blogger should visit a restaurant at least twice before posting about it. I strenuously disagree with that.

Publicly state that you agree to be held to professional standards and just wait for the first restaurateur or chef who gets slammed to decide to sue for defamation or loss of revenue (whether accurate or not) - it's happened to professional food critics, who often have the pockets of a paper behind them to cover legal expenses, and generally win, but how many bloggers could handle that?

I'm sorry, but this truly is nonsense. A blogger could be sued for defamation only if they have committed an act that the law defines as defamatory. The claim of conforming to the eG Ethics code, even if untrue, is not such an act.

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Gosh - I had more fun seeing Wicked and The Players Championship this past week than reading all the internet buzz about this and other proposed codes of ethics this afternoon. Am I the only person left here who doesn't have a blog - or fancy himself a semi-professional restaurant reviewer or photographer? I also pay for my food - except when the restaurant comps me something because it screwed something up - or because - for a variety of reasons - the chef wants us to try a little something we haven't ordered. I hang around here to get impressions of restaurants I'm considering trying (especially when I travel) - and - in return - I try to return the favor for other people who have the same type of question.

I no longer write negative things about restaurants in public - except some restaurants that are so famous they can withstand a little criticism (if justified) without trying to get back at you. Because - with lesser places (particularly those with ambitious chefs) - people have tried to get back at me for saying negative (but accurate) things. And none of these codes of conduct would prevent the type of intimidation I have on occasion experienced. For example - how about the owner of a restaurant calling you and threatening you or someone you dined with after reading something negative here. It's happened to me. I wish I could dine anonymously - but I can't . And - when you make a reservation - the restaurant usually has both your name and your phone number - and sometimes your address (especially if you're staying in a hotel and a concierge has made your hotel reservation). In one case - I was put on the restaurant's "sh** list" - and was called and told I was no longer welcome at the restaurant (after 2 meals there - one pretty good - the other not so good). So how does that jive with writing up multiple experiences at a particular place?

For those of you who fancy yourself professionals or semi-professionals - there is already a code of conduct - and it is - as mentioned above - here on the website of the Association of Food Journalists. So follow it if you care to - but leave the rest of us alone.

BTW - I really don't care if someone (whether or not he is a professional) is being comp'd or not comp'd for his meal (by the restaurant - his employer - or anyone else). Most people on most chat boards I've been on (and people in the print media for that matter) have been around for a while. After one or two experiences - I can figure out whether I agree in general with their assessments of restaurants (and I don't care whether I disagree with people because their meals are comp'd - our tastes are different - they are "friends of a restaurant" and I'm not - or they just have lousy taste - end result is the same - I just don't listen to what they say).

Finally - with regard to photographs - I wish more people would use stock photos - with or without attribution (and it's easy to figure out when people are using stock photos by using sources like Google images). Because that would mean fewer people would bring cameras to restaurants. I am all in favor of restaurants banning cameras the way many have banned cellphones. A great restaurant should be like theater. Whether it's theater on the stage - or on the golf course. And you know something - you can't bring/use a cellphone or a camera in either - and - if the performances are good - it is possible to have a really good time (which I did last week in both venues). Robyn

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I have separated this portion of my thoughts from my last message because I don't know if it will make it to the board. For those of you who aren't familiar with the history of major food chatboards (some of which have become pretty minor league these days) - the most important thing to know is the people who ran and/or worked on the old boards - and their offspring - did not - for a variety of reasons - get along. Still don't. So boards started big - and split - and had offsplits. Kind of like the Bible - X begat A and B - who begat J and K and L - etc. :smile: So there is a lot of backbiting nonsense that gets written these days.

One important thing to remember is that there are a fair number of major players who have major league egos. Still - in the end - their fights - and their backbiting - have nothing to do with how good the recommendations are on their websites. Even from the founders themselves. For example - Steve P. from OAD has a lot of nasty things to say about Fat Guy this week. But Fat Guy was one of the few people in the NYC food community to recognize ADNY as a great restaurant at the beginning - which resulted in my having a great meal there. And when I had a less than stellar meal at Per Se - Steve P. said it because I didn't have "friends" at the restaurant.

IMO - both Fat Guy and Steve P. are similar in one respect (which they may not realize). They both make excuses for mediocre meals in supposedly great restaurants - the former on the basis that any restaurant can have a bad night - and the latter that one needs "friends" at a great restaurant to have a great meal.

I disagree with both. And - more importantly - how will any Code of Ethics solve the problem of bum restaurant recommendations? No matter why or from whom we get them? This is really the most important issue. How to find good restaurants? As much as I like Holly Eats type of websites (including Holly Eats' own) - one has very little invested in trying them - maybe $10-20 at most. And you're not going to travel more than 10 miles out of your way to try one. It's not like you're in Paris or New York or London - having spent a lot of money to go and stay there - and facing a $200+ pp restaurant bill. On my part - I think we should be concentrating on how to get the most out of chatboards in terms of spending our food dollars. And I'm not sure that ethics has anything to do with it.

FWIW - I've been thrown off both boards in the past - and possibly hold the world's record for deleted messages on each as well - so I am not exactly afraid of speaking my mind. Sometimes I think it could be a NYC type of thing (competitive food boards - I'm not sure - I've never lived in NYC). Because the best restaurant coverage when it comes to Florida (where I live) is on Chowhound. It is not necessarily the most literate - or incisive - and I hate the board software - but it is by far the most comprehensive. Robyn

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how will any Code of Ethics solve the problem of bum restaurant recommendations?

It won't. A bum recommendation isn't a question of ethics. We're not trying to solve all the world's problems, or even all the world's ethics problems. We're trying to provide some good guidance for online writers, and I think we achieve that with the code.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Saltshaker, the notion that there will be a stigma attached to not adopting the eG Ethics code is risible. You attribute a hilarious amount of power to our organization. And I'm saying, if anything like that ever happens, I will announce loudly and repeatedly that it's just one possible code and that there should never be a stigma attached to not adopting it specifically. Whether there should be a stigma attached to the total absence of any code is another question. I think if we can apply some pressure to online writers to think about ethics and make their guidelines clear, that will be a good thing.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have some issues with codes of ethics in general.

Setting those aside, since the decision has already been made to adopt the code and the only open questions are ones of specific wording, let me address the specific concerns you raise.

Respect for intellectual property. All text, photos and other media from outside sources is republished only with the explicit permission of its owner or in compliance with an applicable license (e.g., Creative Commons), with the exception of brief quotations from written works in the context of discussing those works.

Is there a reason that this is much more stringent than fair use?

I don't agree that it's "much more stringent" but, in any event, we're creating a code of ethics not a code of law. Law and ethics are, needless to say, not the same thing. The laws of intellectual property may or may not respect original creation as much as the eG Ethics code does.

Links where credit is due. Where the creator of content referenced on this website has made it possible to link to that content, a link is given here. Where books are referenced, links are provided to allow purchase. In general, links are favored over reproduction of content.

I do not see the point of this. If, for example, I am writing something critical of a book that I do not believe deserves to be purchased, why should I link to a place to purchase it?

This was discussed above and a change is being made.

Also, for individual users, how does this fit with policies like those here at the eGullet forums where reproduction of content is preferred rather than linking back to ones own blog?

I don't understand the relevance of that situation. Content under one's own control is clearly a different species.

Disclosure of comps. Where a free or discounted product or service has been accepted, a corresponding disclosure is made.

Presumably only if you are writing about that product or service, yes? If someone sends me something unsolicited and I do not write about it, I should not be required to disclose that they sent me something.

Yes, one would only need to make a disclosure where relevant.

Fair comment. This website allows registered users to comment on the content contained herein. Free and fair comment will be permitted so long as it is civil and conforms to this website's terms of service, including this document.

Not all websites should be required to allow comments.To say otherwise presumes a great deal about the purpose of that site. Moreover, "free" comment is ambiguous. What about comment moderation? By my account, eGullet does not allow free comment, there is a process that needs to be gone through before the ability to comment is granted.

Not all websites are required to allow comments, but the eG Ethics code won't work for those that don't allow comments. The code doesn't require unfettered comment. It allows for limits such as terms of service, registration and a requirement of civility. But it does require that there be a mechanism for fair comment.

Fact checking. The author of any factual statement on this website has made a good-faith effort to confirm the accuracy of that statement. Statements of opinion, however, are just that.

What about websites that are intentionally tongue-in-cheek? What about those that take an outrageous tone? As long as they are up-front about these things, is that a problem?

Satire doesn't constitute a factual claim, so no that wouldn't be a problem.

Faithfulness to the historical record. This site has an edit window of X minutes to permit correction of typographical, spelling, attribution and minor errors. Neither this window nor administrative powers will be used to remove or alter content in a way that distorts the historical development of any content, except when the terms of service have been violated. Even then, due care will be taken to restore the content so as to preserve the record.

Say I have a popular blog post on a topic. I find out that a fact in that blog post is incorrect. Shouldn't I update it?

In most cases the best way to update an older post is to leave the post intact and add something along the lines of a parenthetical ("edited to add"). There are also situations where there needs to be a full edit, such as removal of an intellectual property violation. The final version has some language changes to make this all more clear.

Revision.  This code will be revised, updated and clarified from time to time. The latest version of the code along with elaboration and discussion can be found at LINK.

This is problematic unless you maintain earlier versions as well and allow people to sign on to a specific version. Someone might sign on to 1.0 - but not be willing to follow the changes that you make between 1.0 and 2.0. Retaining them as a signatory to the updated code would be unethical.

All versions will be maintained and dated, and those who feel they can no longer comply with an updated version are asked to remove the badge.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Thanks for addressing my concerns.

Some responses:

I have some issues with codes of ethics in general.

Setting those aside, since the decision has already been made to adopt the code and the only open questions are ones of specific wording, let me address the specific concerns you raise.

That's fair, I suppose. I would love to see something added to the code that concedes the inherent fallibility of codes. They are always overbroad in some ways (and may not go far enough in others). The fact that you want to make this an evolving document acknowledges this implicitly. It would be good to make that acknowledgment explicit.

Respect for intellectual property. All text, photos and other media from outside sources is republished only with the explicit permission of its owner or in compliance with an applicable license (e.g., Creative Commons), with the exception of brief quotations from written works in the context of discussing those works.

Is there a reason that this is much more stringent than fair use?

I don't agree that it's "much more stringent" but, in any event, we're creating a code of ethics not a code of law. Law and ethics are, needless to say, not the same thing. The laws of intellectual property may or may not respect original creation as much as the eG Ethics code does.

I was vague here. The only exception you list is "brief quotations from written works" - but intellectual property isn't limited to written works. What about audio samples? Excerpts from other media that are used for perfectly acceptable purposes?

That's why your code is much more stringent.

Also, for individual users, how does this fit with policies like those here at the eGullet forums where reproduction of content is preferred rather than linking back to ones own blog?

I don't understand the relevance of that situation. Content under one's own control is clearly a different species.

Is it? What is the premise for a preference towards linkage? Is it the assumed preference of the content-owner? An a priori preference for original sources? Neither of those would render it a different species. This feels like a double-standard.

Fair comment. This website allows registered users to comment on the content contained herein. Free and fair comment will be permitted so long as it is civil and conforms to this website's terms of service, including this document.

Not all websites should be required to allow comments.To say otherwise presumes a great deal about the purpose of that site. Moreover, "free" comment is ambiguous. What about comment moderation? By my account, eGullet does not allow free comment, there is a process that needs to be gone through before the ability to comment is granted.

Not all websites are required to allow comments, but the eG Ethics code won't work for those that don't allow comments. The code doesn't require unfettered comment. It allows for limits such as terms of service, registration and a requirement of civility. But it does require that there be a mechanism for fair comment.

Why?

Wouldn't it be enough to say "if comments are permitted, then they must be fair?" Is there any reason behind the commenting requirement?

Also, I think that "free and fair" need to be clarified. They are incredibly vague, especially if limited by the ToS. Limiting fairness by the ToS robs this clause of any point. What if my ToS allow me to remove or change comments if they upset me? No one would say that was free and fair.

Fact checking. The author of any factual statement on this website has made a good-faith effort to confirm the accuracy of that statement. Statements of opinion, however, are just that.

What about websites that are intentionally tongue-in-cheek? What about those that take an outrageous tone? As long as they are up-front about these things, is that a problem?

Satire doesn't constitute a factual claim, so no that wouldn't be a problem.

Depending upon ones definition of "factual" - this should be clarified.

Faithfulness to the historical record. This site has an edit window of X minutes to permit correction of typographical, spelling, attribution and minor errors. Neither this window nor administrative powers will be used to remove or alter content in a way that distorts the historical development of any content, except when the terms of service have been violated. Even then, due care will be taken to restore the content so as to preserve the record.

Say I have a popular blog post on a topic. I find out that a fact in that blog post is incorrect. Shouldn't I update it?

In most cases the best way to update an older post is to leave the post intact and add something along the lines of a parenthetical ("edited to add"). There are also situations where there needs to be a full edit, such as removal of an intellectual property violation. The final version has some language changes to make this all more clear.

Why?

What if adding such update notices and such ruins the post (because, say, it was dependent upon a certain narrative flow or a certain format)? What if it is just a spelling mistake? There are some changes that are trivial. Why should altering your own content be limited in this way? Is there a compelling reason that trumps all others?

I just don't see the reason behind this being an absolute.

Revision.  This code will be revised, updated and clarified from time to time. The latest version of the code along with elaboration and discussion can be found at LINK.

This is problematic unless you maintain earlier versions as well and allow people to sign on to a specific version. Someone might sign on to 1.0 - but not be willing to follow the changes that you make between 1.0 and 2.0. Retaining them as a signatory to the updated code would be unethical.

All versions will be maintained and dated, and those who feel they can no longer comply with an updated version are asked to remove the badge.

Putting the onus on others to do so seems as morally problematic to me as opt-out mechanisms usually do. Couldn't you have code version numbers with unique badges/links? Thus, when you update the code, people can choose whether or not to update their badge along with it?

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I would love to see something added to the code that concedes the inherent fallibility of codes.

We're trying to keep it limited to essential provisions. It's a practical code not a treatise on ethics. We will (and already are through discussions like this), however, offer lots of elaboration on points exactly like this.

What about audio samples? Excerpts from other media

Not okay under the code unless there is explicit permission or an applicable license.

This feels like a double-standard.

It's a double standard because it's two different things. If I rely on the original work of someone who has gone to the trouble to place that work online, I should link to it. If I'm the author of the original work, I shouldn't use other websites as pure marketing tools by linking to it -- I should reproduce it.

What if my ToS allow me to remove or change comments if they upset me? No one would say that was free and fair.

I agree.

Why should altering your own content be limited in this way? Is there a compelling reason that trumps all others?

We have found through many years of experience in this area that a large cross-section of people consider it suspicious when editing powers are used in secret after the fact. They see "edited to add" and equivalent conventions as more honest. With spelling changes, it's easy enough at the end of a post to note "(edited to correct spelling)." Many eG Forums participants do this as a matter of course and it's a good system, balancing the needs of creative flow with respect for the historical record.

Couldn't you have code version numbers with unique badges/links?

That's a bit much. We'll try to maintain a mailing list and notify people of code updates. But ultimately we place the onus on signatories to keep up to date.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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how will any Code of Ethics solve the problem of bum restaurant recommendations?

It won't. A bum recommendation isn't a question of ethics. We're not trying to solve all the world's problems, or even all the world's ethics problems. We're trying to provide some good guidance for online writers, and I think we achieve that with the code.

Hey - if all of you in the food chat board world can manage to resolve your disputes - I will recommend to the current president (Chelsea Clinton :wink:? ) - that you should be sent to the middle east to negotiate a lasting peace. Sometimes the former seems harder to accomplish than the latter :smile: . Robyn

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how will any Code of Ethics solve the problem of bum restaurant recommendations?

It won't. A bum recommendation isn't a question of ethics. We're not trying to solve all the world's problems, or even all the world's ethics problems. We're trying to provide some good guidance for online writers, and I think we achieve that with the code.

If an undeserved recommendation is given because of a personal relationship of the blogger/poster with the restaurant owners/chefs/etc. then is that not an ethical consideration?

This point is somewhat covered by having to dislose comps, etc. but not entirely.

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If an undeserved recommendation is given because of a personal relationship of the blogger/poster with the restaurant owners/chefs/etc.

The code provides:

Disclosure of conflicts of interest. Where the author has a relationship with the subject of coverage beyond a casual or typical customer relationship, that relationship is disclosed. Financial and employment relationships, including those of close friends, associates and family members, will also be disclosed.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Saltshaker, the notion that there will be a stigma attached to not adopting the eG Ethics code is risible. You attribute a hilarious amount of power to our organization.

To some degree, I think having an eG code of ethics and accompanying "badge" implies that eG has more power or at least prestige than most similar organizations. If you didn't believe it did, why bother with it at all?

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To some degree, I think having an eG code of ethics and accompanying "badge" implies that eG has more power or at least prestige than most similar organizations. 

I'm not sure what "most similar organizations" includes, and "power" is a loaded term, but yes, we think we have something to offer here. For the most part, it's all about the code itself: we think on its own terms it's a good document and the badge implies little more than that. Our team also has a lot of collective experience working on and talking about these issues, so we offer that as well.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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how will any Code of Ethics solve the problem of bum restaurant recommendations?

It won't. A bum recommendation isn't a question of ethics. We're not trying to solve all the world's problems, or even all the world's ethics problems. We're trying to provide some good guidance for online writers, and I think we achieve that with the code.

If an undeserved recommendation is given because of a personal relationship of the blogger/poster with the restaurant owners/chefs/etc. then is that not an ethical consideration?

This point is somewhat covered by having to dislose comps, etc. but not entirely.

Something an ethics code would never cover is the "hip" factor. This is the newest - hottest - trendiest restaurant in town. And OMG - I just scored an 8 pm Friday night reservation through a friend of a friend - so I can't be too critical (or critical at all). Otherwise - I'll never score another decent reservation until the place goes out of favor (or out of business).

Although we live at opposite ends of the world - I am not sure this is a factor that comes into play on our home turfs - but I'm sure it does in trendier places.

I guess what's going through my mind when I read this stuff is - what's the point? The objective? Being a (retired) lawyer - the point of the Code of Ethics when it comes to lawyers is to prevent clients from being screwed by someone with whom they have a fiduciary relationship. To make sure the client doesn't have an incompetent lawyer - a lawyer who represents clients with conflicting interests - a lawyer who steals money - etc.

Here - the only objective I can think of is to maximize the chances that a reader will have a good meal - and I'm not sure that any of the rules here are designed to achieve that result. If there is another objective - perhaps someone can explain it to me. Robyn

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Many thanks for all your comments. We have made several changes to the draft code and published the first iteration of the code, along with badges and the signatory form, at eGullet.org/ethics.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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