Friday, July 30, 2010

A Matter of Principle

(I’ve been drafting this for a few days, and then Tun Mahathir has to go and steal my thunder!)

There are a few unspoken rules and principles I have followed since I started this blog. But since the readership has expanded, and I’ve gotten a few queries about writing outside the blogosphere, I thought I’d make these explicit, so there’ll be no misunderstandings. This post should also explain why I try not to write on certain subjects, even if they fall within the general ambit of the Malaysian economy.

Since I work in a public company that works for and services the financial needs of many Malaysians, there’s always a risk that my thoughts and opinions might be construed as representing the policies of who I work for. Even on an anonymous basis as I’ve tried to maintain on this blog, enough people know who I am and where I work, for this to become a potential issue.

So to begin with, I herewith declare that all writings on this blog are my own work and opinions as a practicing economist and an interested observer of the Malaysian economy, and should not be construed as representing the views and policies of any other person, body, authority or company.

These subjects are also off-limits as far as I am concerned:

  1. The KLCI, except on a very general (factual) basis. I will not touch on trends, valuation, or direction of the market, though I will be open to discussing regulation, policies and procedures, as well as examining the market’s statistical properties;
  2. Malaysian corporate activity, profitability, valuation, and/or mergers & acquisitions, in particular those involving GLCs and GLICs;
  3. The NEP, and associated policies, bodies, and agencies.

…as these fall within the scope of activities of my employer. While I recognise the importance of these subjects to a substantive treatment of the Malaysian economy and economic policy, ethical considerations compel me to forgo posting on these subjects. Should my employment situation ever change, I will probably be open to revisiting this self-imposed restriction, but not until then. Note that this is not something I’m compelled or obliged to do, just what I feel is necessary from an ethical standpoint.

I’m open however to discussing any economic topic beyond these subjects.

Also in the interests of disclosure, all of the data I’ve used in this blog can be verified as publicly available, and all resources (time, equipment, software) are my own.

With respect to how I’ve approached writing for this blog, I am from this date forward explicitly committing to the following Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct (based on drafts by Jonathan Dube, Rebecca Blood, and Tim O’Reilly):

Code of Ethics

I commit to the following with respect to entries in this blog, and to my wider participation in the wider blogosphere:

To Be Honest and Fair with respect to gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

  1. Never plagiarizing.
  2. Publishing as fact only that which I believe to be true
  3. Identifying and linking to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability.
  4. Making certain that blog entries, quotations, headlines, photos and all other content do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
  5. Never distorting the content of photos without disclosing what has been changed. Image enhancement will only be used for technical clarity. Montages and photo illustrations will be labelled.
  6. Never publishing information I know is inaccurate -- and if publishing questionable information, I will make clear it's in doubt. Questionable and biased sources will be noted as such.
  7. Distinguishing between advocacy, commentary and factual information. Even advocacy writing and commentary should not misrepresent fact or context.
  8. Distinguishing factual information and commentary from advertising and shunning hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

To Minimize Harm to Individuals

  1. Showing compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content particularly when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
  2. Being sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
  3. Recognizing that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.
  4. Recognizing that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone's privacy.
  5. Showing good taste and avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.

To Be Accountable

  1. Admitting mistakes and correct them promptly.
  2. Writing each entry as if it could not be changed; adding to, but not rewriting or deleting, any entry, although I reserve the right to correct typos.
  3. Inviting dialogue with the public over the content of this blog and my conduct.
  4. Disclosing conflicts of interest, affiliations, activities and personal agendas.
  5. Denying favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence content. When exceptions are made, I will disclose them fully to readers.
  6. Being wary of sources offering information for favors. When accepting such information, these favor(s) will be disclosed.
  7. Exposing unethical practices of other bloggers.
  8. Abiding by the same high standards to which they hold others.

Code of Conduct

I consider the blogosphere to be a frank and open public conversation, that allows for personal expression and constructive dialogue. But frankness and openness does not mean that lack of civility should be tolerated. To this end, I commit to the following principles:

  1. I take full responsibility for my own words and for the comments I allow on my blog. Unacceptable content will not be allowed, and comments that contain it will be deleted. Unacceptable content is defined as anything included or linked to that:
    • Is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
    • Is libellous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
    • Infringes upon a copyright or trademark
    • Violates an obligation of confidentiality
    • Violates the privacy of others
    "Unacceptable content" will be defined on a case-by-case basis, and definitions will not be limited to this list. If I delete a comment or link, I will say so and explain why. Spam posts are the only exception to this principle, and will be terminated with extreme prejudice. [I reserve the right to change these standards at any time with no notice.]
  2. I won't say anything online that I wouldn't say in person.
  3. In case of personal conflicts, I will connect privately before responding publicly. If I encounter conflicts and misrepresentation in the blogosphere, I will make every effort to talk privately and directly to the person(s) involved – or find an intermediary who can do so – before publishing any posts or comments about the issue.
  4. When I believe someone is unfairly attacking another, I will take action, up to and including cooperation with law enforcement.
  5. Trolls will be ignored, as long as they don't veer into abuse or libel.

The Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct will be permanently available through a link on every page of this blog. Updates and changes will be clearly marked, if and when necessary. I will continue to allow anonymous comments, until and unless this indulgence is abused.

No comments:

Post a Comment