Disagreements can arouse passions. The blogosphere can be a battlefield, with rapid fire blog posts and comments flying to and fro, sometimes helpful and thoughtful, sometimes off point unbridled ranting.
There’s been a lot of discussion amongst my fellow Sciblings and our sponsors on this topic – dare I say it? It begins with the letter “C” – no, sorry, I can’t use it – at least at this moment.
Here’s a simple test: would you feel comfortable for your spouse or your employer to read what you posted?
There is an allure to venting, especially anonymously, because the reader – and sometimes the writer – is protected. The allure can be so strong, that in some cases can mimic the fleeting pleasure of drunkenness. I wonder if there’s an equivalent of an internet hangover, next day regrets?
From a recent study:
According to a study by the Northwestern University, anonymity affects the judgment of people similarly to alcohol intoxication and excessive power.
When a person is operating behind a mask such as the Internet, they’re more likely to make decisions that align with their true motives or character — be that heroism or hedonism. “This is why intoxicated individuals can be aggressive in one instant and altruistic in another,” said Hirsh, and it could help explain why people tend to express such extreme views when they get behind a keyboard.
He noted that people have two personas: one driven by raw animal instinct, and another that’s more conservative. The former kicks in online.
“What you’ve got [online] is people who are prepared to let their instinctual personality out rather than really taking a second perspective, looking at it in a different way, and then saying the second thing that comes into their mind instead of the first.” Naturally, this occurs more frequently when you have an open system like ours that encourages “guest” posters, versus strictly registered commenters.
“Anything that requires personal responsibility has got to be a plus,” Cross said. “Once they have to register and they’re held accountable, then that’s really going to be a major step forward.” Worried that you’re a troll? Cross suggests that you establish a method to determine the demeanor of your comment. For instance, consider what your grandparents might say about your post before submitting it.
For the record, ScienceBlogs does have a clear Code of Conduct (sorry I used the “C” words – OK, I’ll go ahead – civility….) that is equally important for both writers and for those posting comments.
Here it goes:
Code of Conduct
1. Be courteous
Treat your ScienceBlogs colleagues online as you would in person. Respect their boundaries, beliefs, and opinions. Keep things civil–we all share at least one common goal: to advance the conversation about science. Whatever our differences, it is easier to work together toward this goal if we are polite to one another. We recognize that there are often strong feelings about issues we discuss here; but while we encourage honest and passionate debate, we will not stand for misplaced or ad hominem attacks.
2. If you disagree, do so respectfully
Attempt to resolve miscommunications or conflicts that arise in the forums directly with whomever is involved, rather than attacking them publicly in the forums or on your blog. If you are offended by something someone has written, explain to them privately why you are offended and allow them a chance to make amends or to explain themselves in return.
If a problem arises on the blogs and you choose to respond publicly, do so in a way that addresses the problem directly without escalating personal conflicts.
If you find that someone is unreceptive to your complaint, tell your community manager. If s/he agrees that what they’ve posted is unacceptable, they will ask them to remove it themselves and explain their decision.
3. Take responsibility for what you post.
Post what you know to be factual and accurately representative in any given situation.
Do not post anything that:
– slanders, defames, threatens, or harasses another person
– is bigoted, pornographic, hateful, racist, sexist, intolerant, or excessively vulgar
– compromises the confidentiality of the forums or your fellow bloggers’ privacy
4. Respect and protect the identity of pseudonymous bloggers.
Regardless of your personal view on blogging under a pseudonym, those who do have strong reasons for doing so. As a member of this community, you may become privy to information about these bloggers that is not public, including their identities. You are asked to keep this information in confidence and not threaten fellow bloggers with intentional exposure or encourage similar indirect activities.