Vagueness my friend, the Solution is

Don

With more and more bloggers getting into ‘trouble’, this can be both bad and good news. The bad news is obviously, well, they’re getting in trouble. The good news is that people are starting to take blogs more seriously, regardless of how serious the blogs were intended to be.

Remember those days in college, where you were forced to write those nasty things called research papers? I remember how my professors used to tell me to make sure I use book source over the internet, and primary sources over secondary. Their rationale was that printed sources were more trusthworthy than online ones. (That can be a subject of a totally different debate, but since that is not the topic for today, let’s leave it as that.)

In some sense, printed sources are suppose to be more reliable than online ones. For example, I expect newspapers like the Strait Times to have more accurate information then opinionated blogs, because a company as big as ST will definitely have hired fact-checkers to check the facts in an article before publication. The reason is really simple – to limit the number of law-suits that might occur.

Blogs on the other hand, how many actually check their facts? Considering that most blogs are written as a past-time or as a sideline (ie. free, no pay, you get the idea), there are no fact-checkers to be hired to ensure that everything is true. I mean honestly, online materials usually isn’t treated with the same severity like printed materials are. But obviously, the trend is changing. Blogs are getting more and more attention, both by readers and hunters.

The solution? Blog responsibly lar. But I mean, if you can’t freely say what you want to say without having to live in fear of being sued, then whats the point of keeping a blog? There are too many facts to be checked. If we bloggers had that luxury, we would all be starting newspapers that pay us to do that. There are bound to be one or two items that fails the nonexistent ‘fact-checker’ test.

You could do one of two things:

1) Place a notice on your blog, alerting readers that there is that slight probability that the following content might contain information are not ‘fact-checker valid’. Or if you do read titles, that is my second suggestion.

2) Be vague. This means DON’T MENTION NAMES! Imagine this. If I had blogged this :’a scholar studying in the US, is currently underfire for apparently (< - use of this word is good) posting racist remarks on his blog.‘ Try using that format to air your opinions on another hot subject. You can’t be sued, I don’t think. No names were mentioned, yet most people who are familar with the incidents know what or who you are referring to.

But what if my readers don’t know anything on the subject? Well you could link to the source that ignited you to feel that your opinions on this matter has to be heard. Still, you’re not mentioning names, and any lawsuit against you, is perhaps at best implied.

You bloggers, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Just please do think before you type.

Okay now for the disclaimer: I’m not a student of law, so take my advice with a pinch of salt. Everyone is entitled to their 2-cents worth. That’s it for my 5-cents worth.

p/s i think singapore is becoming more matured, like the us of a. america is the land of the free, where you have freedom of speech, and all that. american is also one of the places where you get one of the most ridiculous lawsuits. i think that’s where the similarity ends though 😛

9 Responses to “Vagueness my friend, the Solution is”

  1. HUICHIEH LOY Says:

    You have apparently written a very interesting post, but of course, I could be wrong, given that no one pays for any fact check around here. 🙂 Trackback to follow shortly.

  2. From a Singapore Angle Says:

    A Sad Day for the Singapore Blogosphere

    UPDATE 6: Justina is apparently dishing out some advice on blogging: vagueness–it seems–the solution is.

  3. Wai Kay Says:

    Well you have to be very vague then. Even being indirect, if your intent can be proven, then there would still be a case against you.

  4. From a Singapore Angle Says:

    Reviewing the Singapore Blogosphere

    …Managing expectations…

  5. This side of paradise - a Singapore blog Says:

    re: A theory on engaging openness and debate

  6. Agagooga Says:

    In Singapore, if they want to sue you, they can 🙂

    A safer bet will be criticising institutions, not people. And anonymising the people you do criticse (as you point out).

  7. Trinity Says:

    Well we also hv to be careful in what we say in private or public as well then…otherwise we might get sued/starred/ slapped(or who knows wat?) also. As they say each is entitled to their own opinion, it is basic common sense that each opinion is of their own and may not be a fact. Whether these opinionated gens are truly ignorant or not, obviously one can realise and know from after they have expressed their ‘facts’.

  8. WaltDe Says:

    Keep up the great work on your blog. Best wishes WaltDe

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