Monday, April 09, 2007

Civility rules - or not

Libby Spencer

This is concept that comes up among Blogtopians at regular intervals. Some horrible spate of cyber-stalking arises and everyone gets all exercised about incivility in Blogtopia and somebody inevitably proposes a new code of conduct. Now, I'm all for civility but a code just isn't going to work. You can't stop people from behaving like a$$holes.

You can moderate, you can require registrations, you can post rules, you can pledge to codes of conduct, but nothing is going to stop a determined troll. The only way to stop thread hijacking and other flaming is to ignore the hijackers and the only way to prevent confrontations is to meet anger with reasonable and civil replies. Threats on the other hand are a serious matter and anyone who receives a serious threat of bodily harm, should report it to the authorities and then delete the threat.

The Impolitic is too small to suffer from such problems. We're fortunate here to have a high class readership and very few drop-in instigators. On the rare occassion that I've been baited, I've simply thanked them for their input and suggested we agree to disagree. Often times, for those who were just angry about my post, a useful discussion has developed out of that approach. Those trolls that are just looking for attention, go away when they don't get a rise out of you. This isn't rocket science. It's not so different from the way you treat any three year old child.

As for the idea that people need permission to delete comments for fear of being accused of censorship, frankly I don't get it. It's your blog - your rules. Somebody is always going to complain. So what does it matter if they accuse you of censorship? The only person you need answer to is yourself.

The bottom line is there's a lot of rude people on the internets. Some of them are high profile bloggers. I've seen some hate-mongering posts that put the worst trolls to shame. No pledge, no code and no logo is going to stop this. It's the price you pay for free speech. The only antidote is to counter it with personal civility and better speech. I don't think we need a set of rules for that. We have enough rules in this country already.

[For reactions from everybody else and their brother, see Memeorandum.]

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Blogger Daniel DiRito said...

Where is my Easter Bonnet?

While some may see the blogosphere and the behavior of its participants as a new phenomenon, it isn't difficult to find an appropriate predecessor model. That model is found on the streets of any metropolitan area and it is called traffic and the prevalence of road rudeness...or in its extreme...road rage.

Granted, personal attacks and snark on the internet are not likely to lead to fatalities, but if computers had wheels, it certainly would.

The problem on the highway or the internet isn't going to be resolved through a badge system. Did anyone attend Easter mass yesterday and witness the value of not the crucifix behind the altar or the statue at the entrance; I'm talking about the pretty new Easter outfits...complete with bonnets and bow ties. These are the outfits worn by the same people who also attend Christmas mass every year without fail...and then get into their shiny clean vehicle and race out of the parking lot without ever yielding to the old woman walking to her car that is parked in the back row because she forgot that it was Easter Sunday and foolishly arrived at the same time she does each and every Sunday.

Read more on the relationship between blog civility and Easter

4:42:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Great post Daniel and really good points.

4:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fucking bullshit asshole fucko topic


7:32:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I assume that was intended to be humorous Lester but that's exactly the sort of thing I would just delete without remark if it didn't come from you. Thanks for illustrating.

8:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, Libby. And I hope you are right about Lester...

6:45:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Brian - That seems to be the general reaction among the bloggers. And I'm sure Lester is kidding. He likes to mess with me.

11:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's easier in the anominitity (I just know that is spelled wrong!) of the internet to let fly with rude language and cussing.Some people who do this probably live a very constrained life and use this medium to relieve their aggressions. As for me, on the 'net or in person, I just let it fly when I feel the need,though I do try to make my point eventually. As for blogs, since they are actually "personal" spaces, I'm with Libby in believing bloggers have the right to censor any comments they want, but to censor free speech on the interenet as a whole? No f**king way!(See, I'm trying to respect other people's sensitivities)

11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

LOL Rocky. That's pretty strong language coming from you....

12:57:00 PM  

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