Top 5 ways to make the internet more civil

According to Microsoft's annual Digital Civility Index, the internet is becoming a friendlier place. Tom Merritt offers five tips to make the internet even more cordial.

Top 5 ways to make the internet more civil According to Microsoft's annual Digital Civility Index, the internet is becoming a friendlier place. Tom Merritt offers five tips to make the internet even more cordial.

Recently Microsoft published its annual Digital Civility Index and found—maybe surprisingly—that in 2018, civility online increased by two points. I'll excuse you if you couldn't tell. What can be done to make that number move even more? Microsoft had some recommendations on that topic as well. Here are five ways you can help make the internet more civil.

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  1. Take a beat: Don't bang out that sharp, witty rebuke or all-caps shout. Is what you're about to say hurtful? That's not really helping the situation. Worse, could it damage someone's reputation or threaten someone's safety? Give yourself some time to reconsider before you post.
  2. Take that extra time to be thoughtful: Calling people names or attacking their personal attributes won't help anybody—even you. It just makes things worse.
  3. Argue to learn, not to win: Are you just trying to score points against someone from another political party or region of the country? That won't help anybody. Respect differences and try to understand other perspectives even if you don't agree with them.
  4. Stand up for yourself and others: If you see people being abusive or cruel, don't tolerate it. Report all threatening and criminal activity.
  5. Most of all, do unto others as you would have them do unto you: You can agree with kindness and compassion. If you treat others online with dignity and respect, you'll probably feel better about yourself and may surprisingly learn some things from others.

You know, some of these sound like things my Grandma Roxie taught me—and she grew up without electricity. Behaving well is not a brand new skill—making the internet a better place starts with people.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/yacobchuk

By Tom Merritt

Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont. He also hosts Daily Tech News Show, coverin...