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Search Engine Marketing Standards
Posted 09 April 2008 - 01:28 PM
We are responsible to the shared resources of the internet. We shall not act in a manner that damages or impairs the proper and normal functioning of this shared resource in any significant manner.
I was just unsure as to how acceptable this would be, or it's ramifications. Personally, I like it.
Posted 10 April 2008 - 12:23 AM
Standards are bad thing if they are normative, telling people what to do and what not to do. Standards are good if they are descriptive, explaining to people what is generally expected by the community, but leaving open the possibility of exceptions for special cases, or modifications to deal with abuse. When rules are normative, dicks figure out how to game the rules to take advantage of others. A benefit of descriptive standards is that they can be changed to suit the situation. Most people have a clear idea of what is right and what is wrong. The standards are whatever is reflected by community consensus.
What would be best, in my opinion, is for each person to publish their own personal standards for all to see. That way people could get a reasonable idea of (1) what standards are accepted by most people (and probably should be followed), as well as (2) which people have such low standards that they might be dangerous to work with.
Posted 10 April 2008 - 11:48 AM
I'd be happy to see a whole bunch of standards people use, but what I've been seeing is that a lot of people have a conceptually difficult time separating standards, guidlines and ethics.
For example, the Bruce Clay SEO Ethics document combines Ethics and Standards in one. The bolded statements are the ethical requirements, and the standards and guidelines are the text immediately afterword.
At first glance, this just looks like good usability. But what can happen is that if, for example, the recommendation is that you use robots.txt to disallow questionable practices (a very good guideline) but you think that a different way of dealing with it is to put them into Flash or Ajax, you now have the impression that if you don't use robots.txt you are acting unethically!
I'm sure that's not the intent of the document, but that's how it can come across when you start mixing ethics statements with standards and guidelines.
It's kind of like a religion saying that you need to keep it's chosen diety close to your heart. Fine (ethics statement). Then someone says that you should go to church every sunday to help do this. Also fine (Guideline).
It's not uncommon for this "church on Sunday" guideline to eventually be mixed up in the ethics to the point where if you don't go, you are considered to be not keeping the diety close to your heart. This is a serious issue, since it was never intended to be that way. What about invalids or people travelling, etc? No, mixing them just causes trouble and confusion. It also provides ample ammunition for people opposed to something for their own reasons to claim that the guideline is really being presented as an ethics statement and therefore the whole thing is stupid and needs to be thrown out.
So to make a long story short, I think we need a framework for where the standards, ethics and guidelines need to go (and what they are), THEN ask people to put their ideas in the appropriate places.
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