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Cyber-bullying and online etiquette make national news

By jasonhiner Moderator ·
I noticed this headline today and thought it was timely for some of the discussions on TR lately:

Obama on Twitter, Cyberbullying, the Internet: Play Nice
http://blogs.forbes.com/velocity/2010/10/14/obama-on-twitter-cyberbullying-the-internet-play-nice/

As some of you know, I've been making the case this week in the TR forums for improving the tone of the conversations around here.

I've been seeing way too many threads devolving into personal attacks and too much foul language getting tossed around.

We can all do better than that, so let's make a point of it.

Remember that this forum is primarily a place for IT professionals to share tips, advice, and best practices with their peers. It's also a place to exchange ideas about the current and future direction of the technology world and the ways technology is transforming this crazy little planet.

That doesn't mean we're not going to disagree or take issue with each other's opinions. Of course, we will. That's an important part of the dialogue. Just remember to attack ideas and not people. And keep it clean.

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I think that you are...I mean, it is a ridiculous idea

by Oz_Media In reply to Cyber-bullying and online ...

How stupid can you.....erm, what a stupid idea! What ever gave you the idea that people want to socialize and discuss technology without humour and a little loose banter? This site is frequented by adults, the posts are heavily censored, easily tagged and removed when over the top, and people are individually addressed when they cross the line too often, as always it just works and people STILL flock here in droves to join in.

We have threads that are off-topic, where even the most starched shirted IT pros let their hair down.
We then have a supposedly professional IT Pro, TR and C-Net representative, who offers editorials that are pure BS, 100% hearsay, based on low end magazine rot that you find in the WalMart checkout lines, and posing it as if it is relevant and accurate IT news for those seeking such advice.
I suggest sort out your editorial staff, if anything, why let someone represent TR in a false light that is so EASILY challenged and dismissed as uninformed.

There's always been a professional separation here, there have always been trolls and younger folks who come here to bash an OS or BS about their favorites, they are easily and often ignored, or ganged up on by the "TR heavies" and told to sit down and mellow out.

I've sat here and hammered keys through gritted teeth with some folks over the years, like Maxwell or Tony, but we laugh and stick up for each other too, this site wouldn't be the same for me without them, in fact when they take a hiatus they are really missed.
Why? Because we are adults and capable of doing so without people effecting more control over what is said and how it is said.

They tried to turn TR into a real "upscale" professionals only, IT forum before, and people disappeared quickly, many of who have not been seen since and many of them were the most brilliant techs ever seen here, very astute and helpful in the Q&A forums. We just haven't seen techs like that since, that's for sure. One such tech was told off for pushing the line in a Yuk that was REALLY unoffensive to ANYONE, he was one of the most experienced and brilliant participants this site had ever seen, never posted again, but keeps in touch with many of us privately still.

So what's wrong with being adults, what's wrong with a little pithy, censored humour, what's wrong with passionate, off-topic threads that walk on the edge of being offensive.

We do a pretty good job of letting people know when they cross the line too far, we don't accept personal attacks (unless we really know the participants and they understand it).

I just don't get it, we have always seemed to have no problem speaking up and banding together to sort out people that go too far. I've had my lashings and so have many others, we move forward from there.

To add more control, rules, regulation, and stuffiness to TR will neither do you or C-Net any favours at all, you'll just find yourself recreating a 'new and exciting site' to try and regain some popularity again, as has been done before.

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I actually agree with about 50% of that :-)

by jasonhiner Moderator In reply to I think that you are...I ...

The thing about a community is that it's often made up of a lot of different people who are typically trying to get different things out of it. Some want knowledge. Some want peer interaction. Some just want to hear that there are other people out there who speak their language and are experiencing many of the same issues. Some just want friendship.

Many of the things you said (the 50% I agree with) about the TR community are things I talk about all the time when I tell other people in the company and the technology industry about what TechRepublic is all about and how it has successfully built the largest and most active community of IT professionals on the planet.

Everything you said that you like about TR is possible while still respecting the two things I mentioned: avoiding personal attacks and foul language.

Frankly, we have far less problems with newbies and trolls than with long-time members who have a high opinion of themselves and a drastically-inflated sense of their own expertise, and who spend too much of their time taking cheap shots at anyone who thinks differently that they do -- especially new members.

As for the off-topic stuff ... there's a absolutely place for it, but it needs its own room because 90% of the people who come to TR and lurk the forums to find useful information are immediately turned off by the off-topic banter. They've told us that again and again.

I'm happy to report that the next big upgrade to TechRepublic (launching at the end of year) will have a dedicated Water Cooler. That will provide a great spot for Friday Yuk, Friday Night Music, and of course, discussions of politics, religion, evolution, etc. Naturally, we'll be a bit more lax about moderation in there (other than personal attacks and uber-nastiness).

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I see your point Jason

by Oz_Media In reply to I actually agree with abo ...

Separating the forums would be nice, people have never been able to navigate TR properly from the start. They still can't even figure out the difference between Asking Questions and Starting Discussions, when the buttons are side by side?!? That's the reason so many people gave up helping in the Q&A forum. God only knows how few actually know how to select a forum to browse.

As for n00bs, that's the one place where I and most others I see are more patient with people, and much more inviting and encouraging them to stick with TR.

As you know, every time there is a Linux vs MS thread (for example), people come out of the woodwork to sign up, post some BS and run away. These people often get their comments lambasted, just as they do when they post and run.

Spam, well we have runs on the spammers because they are always flagged for removal anyway, didn't think it was a big deal.

Inflated egos? Of course there are, in any profession. You should see what it's like working with musicians (sorry, 'artists')!

The swearing is asterisked by TR's spam filter, when we've gone down that road before, nobody seemed to care, the idea was that we'd heard it before and are all grown up. It's a public website, you can censor it of course but people can't really complain unless it's a government regulated forum.

Personal attacks, that does get out of hand and people are usually called on it right away. I'll tear someone's comments to bits, but try not to aim it at them as much as what was said, I think most follow, except a few n00bs here and there.

Again though you might want to keep an eye on your own editor(s), it appears that you have one that instantly resorts to personal attacks when his junk articles are called out. It's too bad really, when speaking on a subject of his technical expertise, the person is very informative and accurate, but seems to just spin BS when bored or looking for something to post as an editorial.

I suppose it comes from all sides, Jason, not just the 'old timers'.

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Thanks Oz

by jasonhiner Moderator In reply to I see your point Jason

It's definitely the personal attacks that I'm most concerned about and want to nip in the bud.

And, you're right, it's certainly not just the veterans around here. We just have higher expectations for those of who have been around longer and know the ropes.

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"Humor and loose banter"

by CharlieSpencer In reply to I think that you are...I ...

There's a difference between banter and personal attack, and we've both crossed that line before.

You, Tony, Max, I, and many others have established relationships. We understand the intent behind the posts because we've hung out together for so long.

There are other times when a different approach is more appropriate. These times include addressing newcomers or responding in the Questions forum. (There are also times when newcomers, unaware of those existing relationships, stick their noses into a 'fight' between friends that isn't as contentious as it appears.)

The off-topic discussions have often been the TR equivalent to a road house. I wonder if we would be better off as a community if we returned to the policy of confining them to the 'Off Topic' tag list under the 'Browse' tab, and remove them from the more general 'Discussions' tab. Tags aren't visible from the Discussions page, and sometimes titles aren't indicative of off-topic content. Make it so they have to be sought out, or add a one-time 'opt in' page. It's hard to complain about the sex and violence on HBO when you've made the deliberate choice to have it installed.

Edited - I posted this before I read Jason's 'Water Cooler' comments.

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Bump. Fat-free, sugar-free, text-free.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Cyber-bullying and online ...
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Wow, case in point right here!

by Oz_Media In reply to Cyber-bullying and online ...

NOW I see what you are talking about. A normal thread, someone offered a completely irrelevant comment. When someone else replied and stated as much, politely, someone else responded by calling him a ******? Absolutely no sense at all.

http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-12843-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=337129&messageID=3372938&tag=content;leftCol


Not too much you can do about people like that, in a technical forum though.

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My, that got ugly.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Wow, case in point right ...

But apparently you, Jason, and I are the only ones interested in the topic.

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Yes, very good example

by jasonhiner Moderator In reply to Wow, case in point right ...

That was completely uncalled for.

I'm always surprised by how many people didn't learn their lesson about name-calling in elementary school. :-)

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Like This?

by Kenone In reply to Cyber-bullying and online ...

My aren't we just full of ourselves. Listen to the big-time blogger pontificating on proper online etiquette and conduct. What happened did some one call you a name little boy? Poor little thing. You just sound pretty much like an immature a$$.

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