Almost every morning, I take my dog to a dog park about 30 blocks from my house. There’s a set of regulars who come by, and it’s kinda the pet equivalent of hanging at the sandbox–dogs run and play as their owners watch and chat, poised to jump in if anyone starts to tussle.
One day this past week, there were two huge furry dogs loose on the Big Dog side of the park–with no owner in sight. A knot of pets and their owners clustered in the Small Dog area–apparently, one had gone in there with her Lab pup and fled when one of the furry dogs barked. Discussion kicked in about the dogs: who had left them there, was the owner around somewhere, what was going on, anyway?
After about 30 minutes, a guy dressed in full military camouflage strolled up–they were his dogs–and he’d been sitting in his truck down the road.
The dog owners fell on him with comments: Didn’t he know it was unsafe to leave the dogs alone without water? And what if his dogs had gotten into a fight with another dog–who would pull them back? And didn’t he know it was against the rules to drop your dogs off and split?
The park users were amazingly clear about the community rules–and were very clear about communicating them to this potential new member of the group of people who brought their dogs to the park. It was obvious to me that it would be difficult for someone who didn’t follow the rules–or whose dog didn’t get along with (most of) the dogs–to return on a regular basis.
It struck me as well that these kinds of clear community rules are what the blogosphere doesn’t have. Or if they exist, they are not clearly posted–instead we have seismic waves of posts and comments on hot topics. People express outrage, there are discussions, and then things settle down. Or not.
Would the blogosphere benefit from being more like my dog park community? Or is the chaos a healthy part of things? What is the right balance between freedom and social rules?

Almost every morning, I take my dog to a dog park about 30 blocks from my house. There’s a set of regulars who come by, and it’s kinda the pet equivalent of hanging at the sandbox–dogs run and play as their owners watch and chat, poised to jump in if anyone starts to tussle.
One day this past week, there were two huge furry dogs loose on the Big Dog side of the park–with no owner in sight. A knot of pets and their owners clustered in the Small Dog area–apparently, one had gone in there with her Lab pup and fled when one of the furry dogs barked. Discussion kicked in about the dogs: who had left them there, was the owner around somewhere, what was going on, anyway?
After about 30 minutes, a guy dressed in full military camouflage strolled up–they were his dogs–and he’d been sitting in his truck down the road.
The dog owners fell on him with comments: Didn’t he know it was unsafe to leave the dogs alone without water? And what if his dogs had gotten into a fight with another dog–who would pull them back? And didn’t he know it was against the rules to drop your dogs off and split?
The park users were amazingly clear about the community rules–and were very clear about communicating them to this potential new member of the group of people who brought their dogs to the park. It was obvious to me that it would be difficult for someone who didn’t follow the rules–or whose dog didn’t get along with (most of) the dogs–to return on a regular basis.
It struck me as well that these kinds of clear community rules are what the blogosphere doesn’t have. Or if they exist, they are not clearly posted–instead we have seismic waves of posts and comments on hot topics. People express outrage, there are discussions, and then things settle down. Or not.
Would the blogosphere benefit from being more like my dog park community? Or is the chaos a healthy part of things? What is the right balance between freedom and social rules?