This summer saw the launch of a new bloggers' code of conduct focused on changing the unhealthy body image obsession of leading bloggers, and inspiring bloggers to blog more sensibly about issues such as health, food and fitness in order to be better, healthier role models.
Have you posted any anorexia inducing fitness blog posts with glam photos and ascetic dietary advice recently?
If so, a new Norwegian bloggers' code of conduct is aimed at getting you to take a more sensible, common sense approach to blogging about such issues.
Now if you read this blog you’re probably not one of these popular lifestyle bloggers this code of conduct is aimed at in the first place.
But its launch says a lot about the changing (social) media landscape, and how the image of what a blogger is has changed with it.
«Is your blog really a blog if it has no pictures of shoes on it?» Back in 2010 I blogged about how blogger and author Ida Jackson told Oslo’s first Twestival that she often was met with this question when she, a very successful «traditional» text-based blogger, was invited to give talks to to senior high school students in Norway about blogging.
Since then this glam lifestyle blogging trend has only accelerated.
These days, Norway’s top earning bloggers are mostly lifestyle or glam bloggers who write photo-heavy diary like blogs on personal fitness, dieting, fashion, design – and shoes. Some of these have reported annual incomes in the region of 1 million Norwegian kroners (about £109K with today’s currency rate), often from ads and sponsored content.
And with the increasing popularity (and media coverage) of this kind of blogs, the meaning of the term «blogger» has more and more become associated with glam bloggers rather than what to certain age groups are seen as «old school text-based bloggers» - if they are aware of this kind of text-based blogging style at all.
Enter the new «common sense» bloggers' code of conduct, launched by a group comprised of lifestyle bloggers, media company Egmont publishing, psychiatrist Finn Skårderud and representatives from blogging company United Influencers and media company Bonnier.
The initiative has been met with both praise and criticism. Praise for trying to address the blogging style of what many see as dangerously unhealthy teenage role models, criticism among other things for whether such a code really is needed in the first place – and for whether it was launched by people with vested interests.
The criticism it has been met with is not so dissimilar to the one previous attempts at launching any sort of bloggers' code of conduct has been met with, from early attempts to launch a code to regulate how glam bloggers’ present sponsored content - and all the way back to the debacle surrounding Tim O’Reilly’s attempt at launching a code of conduct for bloggers back in 2007.
But with the rise of often young glam bloggers, at times with heavily sponsored content and plenty of product placements, who inspire scores of very young and impressionable readers, is the «blogosphere», and a «blog» for that matter, really what is used to be? The old, unwritten code of conduct of "old-school" bloggers (of transparancy, always crediting your sources, linking out etc) is certainly not one this new school of bloggers abide by.
Here’s a quick translation of the key headlines of the new "Common Sense" code of conduct so you can judge the initiative for yourself (any translation inaccuracies is all down to me, you can find the full code of conduct in Norwegian here):
The common sense code of conduct
- Avoid writing how much you weigh, BMI, calorie intake, waist circumference, arm circumference and similar numbers. Remember that you have young readers that compare themselves with you.
- Avoid being too rigid when writing about the positive or negative aspects of a single food or a lifestyle. Remember that you write from your own experience and not a professional one. What is good for you is not necessarily good for everyone else.
- Photo editing programs might be good for adjusting the light, colours and views, but avoid changing body size or shape.
- Feel free to share food and fitness inspiration, but be good at emphasizing whom it is meant for - and that not everyone runs as fast, weighs as much or need to change anything. Remember that you have no control over who is reading what you post online. Even if you have a core group of regular readers who comment, you also have readers who are younger and older, healthier and sicker.
- Focus on the pleasure of exercising rather than how far you run or how many repetitions you take. Remember that you don’t have to write about every time you exercise in order to share fitness inspiration. If you post a fitness program, remember to explain who it is created for and not.
- When writing about food, feel free to share pictures of your cooking, table or meals, but be conscious of the impact of posting photos that show the size of your portions. Show particular consideration if your own portion is small.
- If you write about clothes, avoid writing what dress size you use. Remember that readers do not know you in real life, and may be just guessing whether their bodies are equal or not.
- Be aware of the total amount of images you put out there that is focused on your body. A body in a bikini is natural on a beach, but consider the scale of what is natural in other settings. Show what is behind the facade and post realistic images of yourself once in a while.
- Be cautious about sharing information about your cosmetic surgery. Acquaint yourself with what the law says about marketing cosmetic surgery
- If you are approached by readers who say they are ill or are having a difficult time, send them to professionals. “Mental Health” has a free 24/7 telephone helpline for people who need someone to talk to. Phone: 116 123 Those who find it difficult to talk to someone can get help in writing via Mental Health's online service.