Starting next month, the Government intends to make public the level of threat to UK national security by displaying the current alert status on the Home Office and MI5 websites. The proposed five-point scale might, but probably won't, appear online like this:
SECURITY ALERT LEVEL
Oh how useful to be able to check this key information 24 hours a day, just in case. Going to the shops? Check first with MI5 to see whether it might be advisable to buy tinned food and extra batteries. Heading into London? The Home Office homepage can advise you whether it might be safer to stay indoors and whitewash your windows instead. Feeling nervous? Better refresh that webpage just in case national security's gone belly-up during the last 30 seconds. This simple online alert will undoubtedly reassure the public and help to dampen collective community paranoia (unless we're on 'critical', in which case it may cause us all to run around with paper bags over our heads, screaming and accidentally shooting innocent Brazilians). This is not so much freedom of information as information of freedom.
Although I think the scale could perhaps be a little more honest:
SECURITY ALERT LEVEL (translation)
And hey, if the Government can introduce useful warnings on its own websites, why can't us bloggers follow suit? By incorporating a similar caution box on our own blogs, we could alert readers to imminent themes, posts and rhetoric which might disturb them. Here are three possible 5-point scales you might like to consider for your own blog: