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Treat on-line Communities like Real Life ones…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 15, 2006

I wrote this in an on-line Discussion Group I am in:

“I joined shortly after this Group was formed – I joined this Group specifically because the Owner promised a strict enforcement of the Code of Conduct. I like the Code of Conduct. I believe it should be enforced in all groups. Sadly it’s not, and sadly many people seem to take a perverse pleasure in violating the Code of Conduct on every occasion they get.I hadn’t been here for more than little over an hour before I saw members who were clearly here with the intent of disrupting, insulting and generally make a stink, especially towards the alleged Host and Owner. Something the Code of Conduct is very clear about:

“1 Respect and courtesy – All Care2 Members are entitled to express their views and beliefs in a safe environment without feeling attacked. Members may not infringe on the rights of any other person to express themselves in a safe environment. This policy includes:i. Any harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, hateful, or otherwise objectionable posts.
ii. Any posts which are invasive of another’s privacy.
iii. Name calling or otherwise attacking the person posting rather than the content of the post. Disagreement is encouraged, but you should only comment on the argument or position taken, never against the person posting their opinion or belief.
iv. Any racial or ethnic slurs or insults relating to the mental, physical or intellectual qualities of any member.”

I later saw those same members, after they had been blocked from here, claim that they were blocked because of their political views.

Interesting, because not one single post they made had any political content or were made in a thread with a political Topic. It was clear that they were blocked because of their BEHAVIOUR.

I don’t know what it is that makes adult people think that just because we are on the Internet all social rules and codes have been suspended.

We do not accept that people follow us around, ridiculing, belittling or otherwise try to poke at us in real life – then why should this kind of behaviour be acceptable and as it seems, in some Groups of people even applauded, on the Internet?

We do not accept people joining discussions in real life yelling at the top of their lungs or constantly interrupt the discussion with comments and behaviour that has nothing to do with the Topic of the discussion or name calling and insults – so why should it be acceptable in discussion groups on the Internet?

We do not accept people being violent and abusive towards others in real life, then how come we accept this behaviour in discussion Groups on the Internet?

In fact, if someone came to a real-life discussion Group and behaved like that, the Co-ordinator/Facilitator would be expected to ask that person to leave, and if he or she refused, to call security to have him or her forcibly removed – and that person would be charged by law with at least “disturbing the peace” or “harassment” – yet when Hosts do exatly the same in discussion Groups on the Internet they are labelled dictators, abusive, cowards, hypocrites, biased etc.

The Code of Conduct is there to ensure that this place is a safe place for people to discuss and debate issues that interest them – and whether we like it or not, the Hosts are here to make sure the Code of Conduct is enforced.

We all have pretty good ideas of what the Code of Conduct means by what it says in the above quote, so claiming that the Code of Conduct is ‘open for interpretation’ is a load of horse manure – different Hosts have different bottom-lines and some have more patience with disruptors and bullies than others, that is true – but when they enforce the Code of Conduct they do it from pretty much the same basic understanding of what Paragraph 1, section I-IV of the Code of Conduct means.”

Some people, apart from taking great pleasure in tormenting others on-line, they also like to claim that they do so because of Freedom of Speech.

That is really interesting – when did treating others like crap become a right protected by Freedom of Speech.? It is also interresting that the same people that treat others like crap and whine about being denied their Right to Free Speech, frequently ask the Hosts and Facilitators to take action when they are treated the same way they treat others.

As a matter of fact I have only met ONE person on-line of this caliber, who does not run screaming to the Hosts of Groups when he is treated as badly as he treats others. I don’t like him, I don’t agree with him, because it seems that he does not acknowledge the existence of verbal and emotional violence – but I RESPECT him, because he takes what he dishes out without blinking.

But back to the matter of Free Speech – yes, we are ‘allowed’ to be verbally abusive towards others, but if we are we are also allowed to take the consequences of such behaviour – and as long as there are ‘documents’ such as the Code of Conduct in place, this means that we either end up being banned from Groups where we violate the Code of Conduct or from entire Fora.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.” It might be a good thing to keep this in mind BEFORE we decide to treat others inappropriately.



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