Monday, November 9, 2009

Anonymity vs Civility

In the comments, Mia says

I feel like I can't blog on the Courier site anymore since some people called my friends and me moronic, fecal matter, simple-minded, sheeple, full of horse pucky, and all kinds of other really mean stuff. It makes me want to meet them by the swings and kick their asses!
Online spleen-venting has been a problem ever since online communities began, and I've been doing this nearly that long. It's hard to prevent where you want open dialogue, but there is one factor that guarantees it: anonymous posting. Where there is no social cost for acting like a baboon, that's what some people do.

Further, where this element is allowed to spit its bile unfettered, it drives out people who value civil dialogue, and so the proportion of bilious comments inevitably rises. In my experience it slowly rises to a majority and holds there for a certain amount of time, then participation falls off suddenly as the community dies gasping in its own stink. I expect that this will happen with the dCourier comments within a couple of years if editorial policy does not change.

Adding to the outrage is the Courier's capricious editing of the comments, and their failure to understand their own comments policies. Despite the written policy barring them, I see many, many comments that are nothing more than personal attacks on previous commenters. Name-calling is rampant and egregious. And trust me, it will get a lot worse.

I came back to this blog for these very reasons, as I found that my comments weren't safe from editorial screwing around. The name-calling from those who have no better communication tools I don't mind, as it says more about them than me and I have eliminated the reflex of responding to it. I do regret that they drive away sensible people who have less tolerance for this sort of BS, so on this blog I promise to maintain a higher level of decorum.

I encourage everyone who cares about this to demand of the editors that they require registration on the site with a real name or regular handle for all comments, and bar those from commenting who abuse the privilege. This will not eliminate the problem, but it will reduce it by at least three-quarters, I guarantee it.

1 comment:

Mia said...

Good call.