La Shawn Barber’s observations about blogger responsibility are well worth reading:

….[U]nrestrained power coupled with little to no accountability is a dangerous thing. As a blogger who?s been the subject of nasty and false statements made by bloggers and in comment sections by anonymous cowards, I know what people are capable of saying when they get caught up in online anonymity. When you?re not man or woman enough to stand behind your words using your own name, high ideals like accountability and responsibility are mere afterthoughts.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)
While this came up during La Shawn’s response to Kathleen Parker’s attack on bloggers (we’re like the uncontrolled children in Lord of the Flies, claims Parker), I do think that there are probably a lot of bloggers who do behave precisely like undisciplined brats, and who are unaccountable. I’d rather avoid reading them if possible, but I think it’s fair to criticize unaccountability and condemn “Lord of the Flies” antics whenever they are found.
Which is not to say that bloggers in general behave that way, because they don’t. These days, there are so many bloggers that there isn’t any generalization which could apply to all of them — save the fact that they all write web logs. (Well, a spammer or a bot is not a blogger. Nor do I consider certain vast conglomerates to be the same as individual blogs, but that’s another issue.)
Because I realize bloggers will disagree on issues like accountability (as they do on nearly everything), I can only speak for myself, and by way of definition of accountability, I can only offer the standard I apply to myself, and it’s pretty close to La Shawn’s. As I have said before, I have to be ready to defend anything and everything I have written in this blog, at any time. That’s a pretty tall order for anyone writing opinions every day, as it is impossible to do this and be right all the time. Accountability means knowing the difference between fact and opinion, being willing to admit and correct errors and (at least for me), always being open to the possibility that I might be wrong about nearly everything.
Even my most deeply held beliefs.
For example, it is always possible that there really does exist the God so many people want to see as the angry bearded legend who sends people to hell for things like using their genitalia for purposes he’s said to dislike. It is therefore possible that I might face eternal damnation. Although I have to be just as willing to acknowledge and answer for everything I have done in my life as I am to defend the thoughts in this blog, I live with that possibility, and the only bright side is that I’d probably be going where most of my friends have gone. I might not believe in such a God, but I know it’s just my opinion and belief, and other people have other opinions and beliefs. Similarly, I don’t believe in Communism, socialism, or other forms of communitarianism, but I must acknowledge that my beliefs may be wrong. I hesitate to attack people simply because their opinions differ from mine, and I try to limit my disagreements to the ideas rather than the people who hold them. But I’m human, and I’m always tempted to return fire when differences of opinion are coupled with ad hominem attacks.
If only the world of opinion consisted of verifiable facts! But it doesn’t. Even the distinction between fact and opinion can be tricky. Many people believe what they want to believe despite evidence to the contrary. This leads to assertions of being wrong, of lying, and of being stupid or evil. In general, people who are willing to acknowledge that they have said what they said and are willing to defend it in a sincere manner are less likely to resort to insulting ad hominem attacks, they are more accountable, and less like the kids in Lord of the Flies.
I think the flaw in the Lords of the Flies analogy is that in the novel, a bunch of ordinary kids found themselves on an island where they reverted to natural savagery which resulted in mob tyranny by bigger and stronger boys. While some bloggers might voluntarily submit to systems which could be characterized as mob rule, there is no way for them to rule over other bloggers. If, in the blogosphere, a blogger doesn’t want to join an online mob, there’s no way to make him do anything, and there is no way to destroy his blog. Unlike “Ralph” (or poor “Piggy”), he can’t have his glasses broken or be speared to death by other bloggers for speaking up. There might be people who’d want to do that, but they’re ultimately powerless because the Internet more resembles a universe than a small island.
The only spears to be thrown are verbal.
And here’s the problem and paradox for would-be tyrants (whether of the MSM or blogger variety): the stronger and sharper their verbal spear thrusts, the stronger their “victims” become.
AFTERTHOUGHT: Obviously, if we see “The Lord of the Flies” in blogospheric terms, a compelling argument can be made that the “Piggy” character (a voice for reason who argued against mob thinking) represents the best of the blogosphere. (Saying the blogosphere resembles his killers reduces him to their level, and IMHO, rather misses the point.)