Civility on the Web – New York Times has me ROTFLMAO

From the NY Times “A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs“:

Is it too late to bring civility to the Web?
The conversational free-for-all on the Internet known as the blogosphere can be a prickly and unpleasant place. Now, a few high-profile figures in high-tech are proposing a blogger code of conduct to clean up the quality of online discourse.
Last week, Tim O’Reilly, a conference promoter and book publisher who is credited with coining the term Web 2.0, began working with Jimmy Wales, creator of the communal online encyclopedia Wikipedia, to create a set of guidelines to shape online discussion and debate.
Chief among the recommendations is that bloggers consider banning anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship. [emphasis mine.]

Let me see, what was I saying last week? Oh, yeah – I delete comments I don’t like on my site, and have for years. Thank goodness Tim O’Reilly has finally given my permission to do so; I was sweating bullets over that one.
I think the thing that exasperates me most about this article is something that I’ve railed about in an offhand way several times before (if I were diligent, I’d track down all the instances, but I’m not) – the Times seems to be blaming the medium, and not the messenger. The incivility is not the fault of the technology, it’s the fault of the people using it. Incivility in public discourse in general is horrendous – case in point; this recent argument between Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera. Or, just listen to any Limbaugh show in the last 10 years.
Given that the level of civility in public discourse from pundits in the media is so rotted and toxic, it’s bizarre to think that that same incivility wouldn’t also exist on the internet. So why are we just calling for civility on the internet – among the masses, the hoi polloi – and not on the damned TV set, or on the radio? I think we’re washing out the wrong stables first, here.

Stop Cyberbullying Day

Read more about it here…..
In all of this, one of the things that is bothering me is people’s defense of the “mean kids” who put up the two sites that were promoting maliciousness towards various tech people, including Kathy Sierra. Like one of the comments in my previous post, who actually went so far as to make the brazen claim that Sierra’s calling them out was on the level of what happened to her.
As far as the “mean kids” are concerned — boo hoo. They were running sites with a basic premise of mean-spiritedness. Nowhere on either site did they issue a policy about what level of mean-spiritedness was acceptable, and what things went beyond the pale. It’s a bit disingenuous to suddenly say “well gee, we never expected that to happen” when someone takes it way too far. And from the details I’ve been able to see, when death threats were actually posted on their sites, they came from the main participants of the site, not anonymous comments. That makes the claim “it wasn’t us” a pretty tough sell, although I guess one of the participants is trying to make the case that he was hacked.