Monday, July 23, 2007

Play nice

SkyeSkye walking on a little wall
Linshaolin has a keen eye and a droll way with words, and her recent post, High Noon at the Message Board, describes the flaming that breaks out on message boards and mailing lists in a very entertaining way. I recommend it.

Flaming is an interesting phenomenon. It's fascinating to watch people who you know are proper and polite in the "real" world morph into savage monsters online and behave in a way that, if they were children in school, would earn them a long sit in the corner. Or expulsion. How can they change so much when sitting at their keyboards? Joseph Conrad would feel vindicated, if he were alive and on some of these lists. Heart of Darkness indeed.

I'm on many, many boards and lists, but most are limited to narrow technical subjects, and the list moms keep them strictly on topic. Besides my techincal lists, I'm on a Reiki list, a list that discusses communicating with angels (yes, I know, and I am in fact an atheist), a couple of collectors lists, and a bunch of beagle lists. Most of these lists are civil, most of the time. Ironically, the beagle lists are the most prone to flaming. You'd think admirers of friendly, easygoing beagles would be friendly and easygoing themselves, but there are those with exposed nerves. If someone mentions a pet-store beagle, for example, the more radical anti-puppy-mill and dog-rescue members can be vicious. I've even heard of threats being sent off-list.

If beagles used the Internet, instead of people, it would be a much friendlier place.

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this is hardly an original comment, but IMO the main problem is you can't tell inflection on the internet. at least not without little hints like ;-) and so forth. throw in some people who refuse to turn off caps lock and you've got a real party, especially if you're discussing an issue that hosts some controversy.

so what i'm really saying is, the internet needs more psychics and geniuses. i don't care if they use paranormal abilities or superior brain power to get my drift, but clearly we need more of these folks, pronto.

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