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Submitted by Craig Rowley on August 22, 2005 - 10:50pm.
Morning, Rowley

"I sat at his funeral, listening to a liturgy that touched on war (the issue of Iraq's disarmament had reached a crisis; Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan occurred; we had been working with warriors), and the priest spoke about the way my colleague, my friend, had as a child written a moving plea for world peace. All the while I contemplated how I was living my own life. Reflecting on what small part I played in bigger things, and whether I was doing what is best. When I am called to account (or rather some priest recounts my deeds) what will be said?" Craig Rowley 

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Submitted by Margo Kingston on August 22, 2005 - 10:01pm.
Management Team

G'day. In March this year I advised Webdiarists in Club Chaos general meeting that I could no longer cope with Webdiary on my own, and several people offered to help. Discussions continued in comments to Club Chaos GM: my thoughts, Jack R to pull beers at Club Chaos and Upgrading Webdiary: a call for volunteers. When it became clear that Webdiary would need to go independent to pursue its vision interested Webdiarists rallied to make it happen.

I'm the buck stops here person. I set the overall direction for Webdiary and have overall responsibility for the content of the site and the direction we take. Harry Heidelberg created our temporary home and threw a sensational 5th anniversary party for Webdiary which brought those of us dreamers who could get to Sydney a chance to meet for the first time. Jack Robertson was contributing editor at a crucial time - the time when I would have given up without assistance to meet the demands and expectactions of Webdiarists. Hamish Alcorn is our transition manager, Kerri Browne is our comments manager, Marc Macdonald is our strategist and PF Journey has taken charge of the challenging task of working out how to make Webdiary financially sustainable. David Roffey is our troubleshooter and Polly Bush is our official historian and pisstaker. Caroline Compton looks after planning and administration. Carl Baker is our website designer. Ian McPherson, David Browning , Nigel Sim and James Woodcock are building our permanent home and Roger Fedyk is our archivist. John Augustus found me a fantastic lawyer and David Roffey, Roger Fedyk, Craig Rowley, Michael Ekin Smyth and Caroline Compton pitched in to edit comments.

We haven't finalised the structure of the independent Webdiary yet, and I'll let you know all about it as soon as we do. Webdiary is not a a political party, a lobby group or a charity. It is not lefty and it is not righty. The priority here is independent media.


If you'd like to join the team, or help in any capacity you wish, let me know.

Margo Kingston

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Submitted by Margo Kingston on August 22, 2005 - 10:00pm.
Building our new home

G'day Webdiarists, and thank you for visiting Club Chaos at this chaotic time.

While we're here, please let me know about any hassles you have using the facilities by posting  a comment. And if you're a Moveable Type whiz who has ways to improve on what we've done, please post!

A small team of  volunteer technical whizes are building Webdiary a new and permanent open-source home (if you'd like to help let me know) and after we move in we'll develop your ideas and mine to further Webdiary's Charter. Webdiarists, we've now got our hands on the levers of  content AND and the publishing platform. If we build the foundations right for Webdiary's home I reckon we'll have fun creating it together.

Come back any time,




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Submitted by Margo Kingston on August 22, 2005 - 9:05pm.
Webdiary Charter

MARGO NOTE: I am reviewing my charter in the light of the move. All input welcome.

First published April 26, 2001, in Webdiary entry "What's the point?"

I believe:

* that widely read broadsheet newspapers are essential to the health and vibrancy of our democracy

* that they are yet to adapt to a multi-media future pressing on the present

* that there is a vacuum of original, genuine, passionate and accessible debate on the great political, economic and social issues of our time in the mainstream media, despite the desire of thinking Australians in all age groups to read and participate in such debates

* that newspapers have lost their connection with the readers they serve

* that the future lies in a collaboration between journalists and readers.

The mission of the Webdiary is:

* to experiment in the form and content of the Herald online

* to assist in the integration of the newspaper and smh.com.au

* to help meet the unmet demand of some Australians for conversations on our present and our future, and to spark original thought and genuine engagement with important issues which effect us all

* to link thinking Australians whoever they are and wherever they live.

* to insist that thinking Australians outside the political and economic establishment have the capacity to contribute to the national debate

* to provide an outlet for talented writers and thinkers not heard in mainstream media

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Submitted by Margo Kingston on August 22, 2005 - 9:00pm.
Webdiary Ethics


MARGO NOTE: Webdiary's ethics remain the same, save that the Sydney Morning Heralds' ethics guidelines no longer apply. I have therefore deleted references to that document.

I want you to trust Webdiary. Trust is the ideal at the core of all professional ethics codes, which are guidelines for conduct which aim to achieve that ideal. I'm a journalist bound by a code of ethics drafted to apply to traditional journalism. I've adapted the code to meet the responsibilities of running Webdiary, and set out guidelines for your contributions. These guidelines are always open for discussion and debate on Webdiary and can be clarified and added to as issues arise.

My obligations

1. I will strive to comply with the Media Alliance codes of ethics, which will be in a prominent position on this site at all times.

2. In particular, I will correct errors of fact on Webdiary as soon as possible after they are brought to my attention and will disclose and explain any inadvertent breach of my ethical duties on Webdiary at the first available opportunity.

3. I will respond on Webdiary to all non-frivolous queries or complaints about my compliance with the codes and give a copy of queries or complaints to the online editor.

4. I will not belittle or show disrespect for any reader's contributions I publish, or to any person who emails me.

5. I will do my utmost to ensure that Webdiary is a space to which all readers, whatever their views or style, feel safe to contribute. If you are offended by something in Webdiary, feel free to respond. I won't publish any material which incites hatred.

6. I will let you know when archives have been changed except when changes do not alter their substance, for example corrections to spelling or grammar. I will amend archived Webdiary entries to include corrections of fact and advise you accordingly.

7. I won't publish all publishable emails, but I will read every one unless there's too many to reasonably do so in the time available. If I haven't been able to read all emails, I'll let you know on Webdiary.

8. My decisions on publication will be made in good faith, without bias towards those I agree with or am sympathetic towards.

9. I reserve the right to edit contributions.

10. I will publish most contributions made in good faith which are critical of Webdiary's content or direction, or of me.

My expectations of you

As a journalist I have ethical obligations to readers; as a contributor you do not. Still, there's a few guidelines I'd like you to follow. David Davis, who's read and contributed to Webdiary from its beginning and helped draft these guidelines, explains why. "Webdiary encourages free and open debate. The guidelines for contributors are not designed to curtail this, but to remind you that just as you live in a community in the real world, the same is true in the online world. Being part of a community carries many rights, but there are responsibilities. Rather than eroding the rights, these responsibilities actually protect them."

1. If you don't want to use your real name, use a nom de plume and briefly explain, for publication, why you don't want to use your real name. Please send me your real name on a confidential basis if you choose to use a nom de plume. I will not publish attacks on other contributors unless your real name is used.

2. Disclose affiliations which you think could reasonably be perceived to affect what you write. For example, if you are writing about politics, disclose your membership of a political party.

3. Don't plagiarise, that is don't use the ideas of others without telling us where they came from, and don't copy the writings of others and pass them off as your own. There's no need. Put quotes around the words of other people, and tell us who they are and where you got them from. If you've used online sources for your contributions, include the links so others can follow them up.

4. Be truthful. Don't invent 'facts'. If you're caught out, expect to be corrected in Webdiary.

5. Robust debate is great, but don't indulge in personal attacks on other contributors.

6. Write in the first person. Remember, we're having a conversation here.


I am bound by the code of ethics of the Media Alliance union, of which I am a member. The Alliance code follows. To complain about a breach of the code, contact me and/or the Media Alliance. To comment on, question or complain about Webdiary's ethics, post to this entry and I will respond as soon as possible.


Respect for truth and the public's right to information are fundamental principles of journalism. Journalists describe society to itself. They convey information, ideas and opinions, a privileged role. They search, disclose, record, question, entertain, suggest and remember. They inform citizens and animate democracy. They give a practical form to freedom of expression. Many journalists work in private enterprise, but all have these public responsibilities. They scrutinise power, but also exercise it, and should be accountable. Accountability engenders trust. Without trust, journalists do not fulfil their public responsibilities. MEAA members engaged in journalism commit themselves to

* Honesty

* Fairness

* Independence

* Respect for the rights of others

1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.

2. Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, family relationships, religious belief, or physical or intellectual disability.

3. Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the sources motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.

4. Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.

5. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.

6. Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.

7. Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.

8. Use fair, responsible and honest means to obtain material. Identify yourself and your employer before obtaining any interview for publication or broadcast. Never exploit a persons vulnerability or ignorance of media practice.

9. Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate. Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed.

10. Do not plagiarise.

11. Respect private grief and personal privacy. Journalists have the right to resist compulsion to intrude.

12. Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.

Guidance Clause

Basic values often need interpretation and sometimes come into conflict. Ethical journalism requires conscientious decision-making in context. Only substantial advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.



For a comprehensive discussion of Webdiary ethics, see my piece Webdiary's ethics.

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Submitted by Margo Kingston on August 22, 2005 - 8:30pm.
Focus on Fairfax column - apply within

Feel free to post information and links below.

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Submitted by Margo Kingston on June 10, 2005 - 8:55pm.

We are busily working on getting the past five years of Webdiary Archives into a user friendly format.  This is one of our top priorities and we will keep you posted.

The archives of the Sydney Morning Herald Webdiary site dating back to early July 2004 are available here at http://webdiary.smh.com.au/archives/margo_kingston/  where the original article and subsequent comments can be read.

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Submitted by Jack Robertson on May 17, 2005 - 12:00am.
Discussion guidelines

(first published here on May 16, 2005)

Last week was a hectic one for Webdiary, with some fast-breaking stories bringing a lot of traffic, many debut commentors and a lot of intense and angry discussion. Sometimes nasty, too, which is why I announced my intention to conduct an experiment banning all personal abuse altogether.

As a part of what I hope will become a concerted attempt by all Webdiarists to lift the tone, substance, depth and civility of our increasingly pluralistic discussions - and also as a simple editing and formatting aide memoire to help both editors and contributors speed up the mechanical hack work of facilitating discussions while we are still investigating a broader technical redevelopment - my Contributing Editor Jack Robertson has drafted some guidelines for Webdiarists.

To make some key points doubly clear:

I've instructed Jack and guest editors not to publish any post that contains abusive attacks on another Webdiarist, or his or her views. I also want to make it clear to the nastier critics of Webdiary that I no longer have the time or inclination to indulge your pointless abuse of me or this site. For nearly five years I've worked hard to publish even the most vitriolic of your attacks. Enough. We've heard all your lines now. Save your time and mine. You know where to go on the net if you want to see your attacks on me published.

For more serious Webdiarists, banning abuse does not mean that I want you to avoid vigorous criticism altogether. If you disagree with someone, by all means say so. But I expect you to do so civilly and calmly, and I also expect you to amplify that criticism with well-reasoned and relevant counter-points, and, ideally, positive alternative suggestions. I want this site to be a place of substance and creative debate, not tit-for-tat niggling and destructive point-scoring. I want every Webdiary poster to to find and acknowledge the best points in other posts, not just knee-jerk react to their worst. I want our discussions to end up adding, not detracting, to our collective knowledge of the issues we address.

I want the Webdiary community to make itself greater than the sum of our constituent parts, not lesser.

I'm hoping that Jack and the guest editors won't need to delete too many abusive posts as part of this new approach. I'm still hoping that self-regulation might ultimately prevail. At each week's end, we'll review the list of posts/phrases that have remained unpublished/been deleted. This will help us all get an idea of how this experiment will play out. So please read the guidelines below and think about our intentions in laying them down. (And see Webdiary 'no abuse' trial - week one, published May 21, 2005.)

Guidelines for Webdiarists

by Contributing Editor Jack Robertson
Please read these guidelines and take them in both the letter and spirit in which they are framed. Their purpose is not to discourage Webdiarists from contributing, nor to appear prescriptive about content or opinions expressed, but rather simply to enhance the quality of the discussions conducted. Like all useful etiquettes for civilised discourse they are not absolute, nor are they unbendable as occasion merits. Webdiarists are strongly encouraged to recognise and respect the deeper strategic intent behind the specific list of rules.

These guidelines should be applied in conjunction with the Webdiary Charter, Webdiary Ethics.

Formatting conventions

These rules, while appearing pedantic, serve three serious purposes:

a. to maintain an eye-pleasing and consistent site appearance;

b. to assist contributors and editors in the management of conversations, especially the latter (by far the majority of an editor's time is spent 'tidying up' lazily-formatted posts);

c. to ensure that contributors give serious thought to the preparation of their posts, to help reduce the number of frivolous, lazy and bad faith posts.


1. Use standard English (Fowler's) capitalisation, grammar and spelling (Macquarie) rules. Use of the internet 'convention' of writing in lower case only is acceptable in poster's name-boxes only.

2. Do not indent standard paragraphs. (The 'blockquote' html format for delineating quotes should only be sparingly used.)

3. Separate paragraphs with one blank line space.

4. Insert no space before the following punctuation marks: ,.?!;:)> and one space after.

5. Insert one space before: ([< and no space after.

6. Insert one space after and before - + = &

7. Insert no spaces before or after: / " ...

8. Standard ellipsis length is 3 full stops thus: ... Use of excessively long ellipses to 'make a point' should be minimised.

9. Use of CAPITAL text means that you are SHOUTING at your fellow Webdiarists. Bar staff will tolerate single SHOUTED words, phrases and short isolated sentences, but no more.

10. The use of other internet formatting conventions such as emoticons is acceptable.

11. Quotation marks should be used on all quoted material, including Webdiarists' posts. If quoting text with no contained quotations, simply use "...". If quoting text already containing quotations, use "...'...'..."

12. For brackets, the equivalent convention is (...), and (...[...]...)

13. When quoting from a hyperlinked source, use normal font.

14. When quoting from a hard copy source not on the internet, use italics.

15. When quoting a fellow Webdiarist to respond to a specific point, the convention is thus: Jack R: "......blah blah blah..." as a stand-alone paragraph.

16. Webdiarists may add to this thread suggested solutions to 'format standarisation' issues you have encountered and which I have not addressed above.

Hyperlink conventions

Already it's clear that the internet's hyperlink capacity is one of the most exciting discussion 'tools' Humanity has developed since the printing press. The ability to draw on practically unlimited stores of information while conducting a written exchange is altering the way we write, read and even think. The downside is that the internet is also becoming a place of information anarchy.

Here are the Webdiary rules on hyperlinks:

1. Contributors will ensure that posts containing hyperlinks are submittted with the appropriate html tags already in place. If you do not know how to use basic html, there are many free websites available via Google where you can learn to make your own text bold, italic and hyperlinked (AKA 'hotlinked') in minutes. Serial offenders won't find their tag-free posts indulged by editors for long. Learn how to speak basic html, and do so.

2. Editors will - are bound - to check all hyperlinks on publication, and if possible will rectify any dead-end or dumb-thumbed mis-links, but the poster is ultimately responsible for any dud, and should advise the editor if his links fail. Dead links in cyberspace are like blank pages on a newspaper; Webdiarists should all work to minimise the number published here.

3. Editors also reserve the right to add hyperlinks to Webdiarists' posts if they think it will enhance a post; contributors can however request the removal of any such links if they are inappropriate to the post.

4. When hyperlinking to a website, Webdiarists should try to indicate, either in the 'hot-text' itself or immediately adjacent to it, some indication of:

a. the site/net publication the reader will be linked to; and/or
b. the author/blog-site the reader will be linked to;
c. the type of cached file linked to IF it might require software that is non-standard on older systems (ie, pdf; jpeg; mpeg);
d. whether the source/site requires paid-up subscription to read/gain access to;
e. whether the link invokes an excessively-long download time, or other unusual technical responses.

5. Webdiarists are also expected to include links only in transparent good faith. Note the following:

a. contributors who knowingly seek to link Webdiary with illegal websites will be banned, and reported to the relevant authorities;

b. contributors who knowingly seek to link Webdiary with websites of a hate-inciting, explicitly sexual or pruriently violent nature without making crystal clear in their post (and preferrably to Margo Kingston directly) that intention, and their justification for doing so, will be banned. The STRICT convention for linking Webdiary to controversial or confronting (legal) content is: do NOT hyperlink to the site, simply post the url. This ensures that Webdiarists can only visit the site by making a conscious decision to cut n' paste, then click. Contributors should be explicit in what they will find. If, for example, you wish to underpin an anti-war point during a discussion on Iraq by linking to explicit photographs of mutilated children, you should pre-warn Webdiarists that this is precisely what they will find. Margo Kingston reserves the right to veto any links.

c. Webdiarists who wish to hyperlink to content on their own personal sites or blogs may do so, but should declare their interests in the hot-text. Repeated posting of such solipsistic links, designed to do no more than boost personal hits, will be viewed with an increasingly jaundiced eye. Expect to be heckled ruthlessly by the editor if you persist; then eventually de-linked.


6. ...

Webdiarists may add to this thread further suggestions on hyperlinking conventions for consideration.

Limitations and general notes on posting

1. Except in exceptional circumstances at the discretion of Margo Kingston and the editors, Webdiarists are limited to a maximum of 5 posts per 24 hours. This limitation, which is imposed on a trial basis, is to help ensure:

a. that each Webdiarist posts a smaller number of more substantive (in length and/or depth) contributions to debates, rather than many superficial ones;
b. that Webdiary discussions do not descend into pointless and repetitive tit-for-tat squabbles over trivial disagreements;
c. that threads do not become overly dominated by the same small core of regular posters;
d. that newer or less confident Webdiarists are not discouraged from having an equal say;
e. that Webdiarists will not 'waste' posts on abuse.

2. Posts that contain personal abuse of another Webdiarist of any kind will not be published. Serial attempted-offenders may be permanently banned. 'Personal abuse' is a difficult and subjective notion, but the following are likely to be so:

a. any criticism of a Webdiarist's actual or imagined physical appearance or characteristic (voice, inherent intellect), or non-physical qualities over which they have no immediate control (writing ability, education level, life or work experience);
b. criticism which contains sneering or foul-language criticism of views and opinions, as opposed to witty and pithy critiques;
c. criticisms that depend for their sting even obliquely on a Webdiarist's specific (known or imagined) sexuality, gender, race, religion or nationality;
d. most criticisms that assign a pejorative adjective or noun to a person rather than an adjective or an adverb to that person's actions (including the action of expressing of an opinion);

Another useful guide to apply when deciding whether or not your post is 'personally abusive' is to ask yourself: 'would I be prepared to make this comment face-to-face to my fellow Webdiarist if we were standing at the bar of Club Chaos?'

Webdiarists should feel free to discuss the concept of 'personal abuse' further on this thread if they wish

3. All swear words up to and including f**k may if thought absolutely necessary be used in full. F**k and its derivatives must be asterixed, thus: 'f**k'. This represents the extreme end of the foul language permitted at Webdiary, and should be used very sparingly if at all.

4. In line with Webdiary Ethics, posters must post using, at minimum, a first initial and a full surname ('J. Robertson'). Ideally all posters should post using their daily-use name ('Jack Robertson'). Where overlaps with existing Webdiarist posting names is possible, additional information should be used by the late-comer ('Jack J. Robertson'; 'John James Smith). Posters who wish to use a pseudonym must advise Webdiary editors briefly of their reasons, or be willing to do so. Pseudonyms must be:

a. of a neutral and conventional nature;
b. consistently used once chosen.

Use of standard name forms lends Webdiary discussions a more sustantial and civil tone. It is far easier and more egalitarian for a 'Jack Robertson' to maintain a serious conversation with a 'John Smith' or a 'J. Smith', than with a 'John', a 'Johnny12345', a 'John Howardsucks' or a 'Mickey Mouse'.


6. Margo Kingston retains the right to disregard any and all of these Guidelines.

Jack Robertson: Webdiarists, please feel free to discuss any aspect of these guidelines, and add suggestions for areas that I have missed, at length on this thread. Thank you.

Previous comments on this thread

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Submitted by Margo Kingston on March 1, 2005 - 1:57am.
General Comments

This is a place for general comments about this site, generally not for publication.

If at all possible, choose a thread to which your comment is most relevant and post there.

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Submitted by Polly Bush on February 19, 2005 - 5:20am.
Carving up Club Chaos

"A long time ago in a far away land reigned the establishment Kingo's Club Chaos, sometimes now referred to as Ye Olde Webdiary. This makeshift saloon bar quickly became a refuge for the damned and a retreat for the restless, evolving into Margo's Home for Wayward Cowboys and Cowgirls. As the crowd grew in numbers renovations became inevitable. Like the ol' suburban pub, the expanding clientele needed to be dazzled with wanky trendy trimmings. This was no easy task as patrons varied completely in thought, word and speed. The best solution seemed to be to carve up the saloon bar into different themed rooms and activities." Polly Bush

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Submitted by Polly Bush on December 19, 2003 - 10:32pm.
Pollie Waffle Awards 2003

"Another year, another war, another conga line of suckhole quotes to commemorate. As 2003 comes to a close, it's time to rejoice in the bum jokes again." Polly Bush

G'day. This is the last Webdiary for the year, folks, so thanks to all of you who wrote and read this year. And what a bloody big year it was, although I reckon next year will be even bigger. I've just written my last Sun Herald column for the year, out Sunday, and you can check it out online then at margo kingston opinion.

I'm in blind panic mode over my book, so no break for me. Hope you have a good one. Webdiary will return at the start of February.

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