Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday, 15 October 2010

The 66% rule

Blogging as a science/art form/menace - depending on your point of view - is still in its infancy, culturally speaking. There's no official written protocol - nobody gives lessons in it; most of us are making it up as we go along (or at least I am).

Since recent events and journalistic opinions have highlighted the issue of integrity - or the lack of it - in the blogosphere, I though I'd set down the rule of thumb that usually governs posts here in the Tavern.

Socrates, rebuking an Athenian for spreading gossip, advised asking three questions before saying anything:

- Is it true?
- Is it kind?
- Is it necessary?

It is my firm belief that a pseudonymous blogger can maintain personal integrity as long as any two of those three conditions apply.

An unkind statement - or accusation - must always be checked for accuracy and there should be a good reason for publishing it. Where there is doubt, a caveat or attribution is needed to warn readers of the fact.

An untrue statement is acceptable as long as it harms no one and there is a perceived purpose to it - which, lest we get too po-faced about it, can be to make people laugh.

And I doubt anyone would have a problem with a statement that is both true and kind, however slight the reason for including it.

In the words of Meat Loaf, "Two out of three ain't bad" - or, according to the sleevenotes of a Chinese bootleg CD, "Sixty-six percent is alright".


  1. "Sixty-six and two-thirds per cent", actually, so that fails for accuracy.

  2. MW, very true - but a bit of a mouthful; even rounding it up to 67% loses the alliterative snappiness.

    I prefer to think of the rule as a tribute to that unnamed Chinese translator - and a useful reminder that something always gets lost in translation.