Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Dan Gillmor and crew have announced HonorTags. This builds on his citizen journalists pledge, but is basically a way to tag posts to describe context and role of the author. Currently they have: HonorTagJournalism, HonorTagProfessional, HonorTagAdvocate, HonorTagPersonal, HonorTagFiction, HonorTagUnTag. They are soliciting feedback. Maybe I should suggest HonorTagJoker.


I'm going to try this out over at the Music Cherry blog because any extra way to tell readers that we're really serious about writing about music we love, instead of just trying to sell records and getting affiliate money. We actually haven't made a dime from amazon if that's any indication of our openness.

I do kind of think this might be a bit backwards because there is a moral hazard involved since almost everyone thinks they're a relatively good person. Of course if it went top down, then it would take forever to hit the small blogs, and if it were peer-given tags being added, then maybe it'd seem more "right."

this is gutsy and really worth a shot on Dan's part though.

Yeah. I think the point for me is that if you're willing to tag your stuff this way, you're also saying you're inviting the scrutiny that it entails. You can't later say. "I never said I was being anything but a promoter of my stuff!"

I like the idea, but I don't think it meshes very well with Technorati-style tagging. Also, I think the names are way too long - HonorTagYellowJournalism?

It sounds like they're after some kind of shorthand for disclaimers. Maybe it would be better to have icons, like the Creative Commons people do.

I also think that if you need disclaimers often enough to want a whole system for them, maybe you should just put one big disclaimer at the top of your site. "I work for Microsoft" or whatever.

If honor tags are taken too seriously, pretty soon the number one tag on the aggregators will be HonorTagSelfPromotion. :-)

Tagging your own posts to develop reputation is a mistake.

Tagging of your reputation should only be others.

Also, for this to work, there will need to be some way to discern the tagging by those 'close' to the blogger to prevent groups raising their rep through planned cross-linking.

To pull from

"While friends' opinions may matter most in getting good Whuffie, a weighted score also makes room for those both likely-- and unlikely-- to be compatible. This version resembles a counterpoint system, and is called left-handed Whuffie: respect garnered from people who share very few of your own opinions. This is not a world of sycophants who seek mutual admiration. The future apparently holds true to both majority power, and also minority empowerment."

There needs to be a way to percieve the left-hand whuffie or it must all be considered right-hand.

We really need to have a little faith and give people credit for not being stupid - they will know by what they read whether you are promoting your stuff. A pledge or a tag won't decide it for them. Should I come across a blog featuring a pledge or a tag, I will take it to mean that they are seeking legitimacy and approval for their content from the blogosphere equivalent of the HR department, suggesting to me that their independence has been compromised (in my view the most valuable asset a blog has), along with their originality, creativity and courage.

What a blog needs more than a pledge or a tag or a membership in a mutual admiration society is appealing content. If you’ve got that, what the Pledge Police think of it won’t matter a brown banana to your rapidly expanding audience.

"What a blog needs more than a pledge or a tag or a membership in a mutual admiration society is appealing content."

That I totally agree with. The reason people like Dan are so big now is because they've *always* given the best content possible. They are only big because their content deserves to be big.

If you have a crappy blog, then no one will read you anyway (hopefully!)

Cole, like everything else in the blogosphere, that's probably a matter of opinion.

I can see the attraction in wanting to introduce a measure of control over the blogosphere through pledges and honor tags etc., but I do not think these things are helpful or necessary or serve any useful purpose other than potentially raising the profile of the blog proposing them. It's self-serving. In my view we would do better to let the conversation rip which it will do anyway.

Noel and Cole:

I, for one, would rather have people tell me, for instance, if they are attempting to adhere to journalistic norms of neutrality, or if they promise to disclose if they are being paid to write about certain things. Otherwise, I have to assume the default, that is, that people are free to be as unfair and opinionated as they want, and free to accept money to say certain things.

The current system is that I have to wade through someone's archives to guess their intent. I'd rather have them just tell me.

It's true that honor tags don't tell the reader if the source is trustworthy. But they do tell the reader whether the source CLAIMS TO be objective, etc. This is already a lot more information than we have without honor tags.

I think both pieces of information are important: what standards a person claims to be upholding, and how well other people think they are doing. Honor tags provide only the first half of this, but your proposal would provide only the second half. I would like for sites to self-identify with honor tags (or something similar), but ALSO for other people to rate their trustworthiness.

To clarify:

"Otherwise, I have to assume the default, that is, that people are free to be as unfair and opinionated as they want, and free to accept money to say certain things."

When I said this, I don't mean I will have to assume this because we assume that people are bad. The problem here is that many people think that being unfair and opinionated on their blog, and even accepting money for it, is NOT BAD. That is, they think it is perfectly ethical. And in fact, I agree with them; there's nothing wrong with being non-neutral, opinionated, or selling your voice on your website, UNLESS you have promised not to.

So, the problem is not to distinguish the bad apples from the good. The problem is distinguishing people who have certain goals for their website from other people who have different goals.

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UselessTags from Social Patterns
July 2, 2005 5:12 PM

Dan Gillmor of Grassroots Media just launched HonorTags - basically another way to tag posts to describe the context of an author. (via Joi Ito) Supposedly HonorTags will help readers find relevant/trustworthy content and increase control over how cr... Read More

We only talk about music that we truly, madly, and deeply love here so we're going to start trying out "honor tags" on the site for a little bit because I think it's important to know whether or not... Read More

HonorTags from Bohemian Philosophy
July 2, 2005 10:15 PM

HonorTags introduces tags to define your “role and context” as an author - be it journalist, bloggers and basically anyone with the intention of producing content online - honestly. [via Joi Ito] HonorTags help readers find content they... Read More

Idea: Honor Tags Introduced: July 1, 2005 What is it? Honor Tags is an idea introduced by Grass Roots Media (Dan Gillmor, Michael Goff and Jay Campbell). They are making significant contributions to the idea of responsible citizen journalism. Ho... Read More

Dan Gilmor et son équipe ont lancé Hono Read More

HonorTags sind ein Versuch, die Blogosphere mit Hilfe einer Selbstklassifizierung, vertrauensvoller zu machen. Bisher gibt es 6 sogenannte HonorTags, mit denen man sein Blog einstufen kann. Die folgenden 6 Tags sind definiert worden: Journalism... Read More