Being a Gentleman in the Age of the Internet: 6 Ways to Bring Civility Online

by Brett & Kate McKay on July 13, 2011 · 244 comments

in A Man's Life, On Etiquette

“All u need is one shell: for yourself. Done.”

“Nothing says survival like a tube of Carmex. Add a little to that condom you stored and protect the world from more people like you…”

The above comments were left on Tuesday’s post about building the Ultimate Survival Shotgun. That post was a big hit, quickly becoming one of our most popular articles of all time (thanks Creek!). But not everyone really got it—it was designed neither to be a humorous satire nor a super serious survival tutorial. Rather, it was simply supposed to showcase a fun project that also taught some of the basic principles of building a survival kit; it was meant to be an extremely cool look at a challenge a man set for himself—how to build a survival kit on a shotgun without any separate packs—and how he very cleverly accomplished the task.

Okay, so not everyone saw that, and even if they did, they still didn’t like it. That’s fine. We don’t expect everyone to like every article! But how does a man go from not liking a blog article to finding its author unworthy of reproduction or life?! I’ve come across plenty of blog posts that I’ve detested, but I’ve never made the leap from my distaste for a piece to thinking the author should off himself. Where does this kind of angry, cringe-inducing inhumanity come from?

Certainly the loss of empathy from interacting as anonymous, disembodied selves is a major factor. But the real root of the problem is how we view our time online; many see it as a break from their “real lives”—a place where they can let it all hang out. In their off-line lives they must be civil and refrain from telling their boss how they really feel about him, yelling at the customer service rep who’s giving them the runaround, and getting out of the car and punching the rude and reckless driver in front of them. The anger from this restraint boils inside of them, and online, freed from any real consequences, they unleash their pent-up venom.

But the world is spending more and more of its time online. For many, it has become our major source of education, entertainment, communication, and debate. Isn’t it time to let go of the false wall between our online lives and our “real” ones and act with the same kind of civility on the internet that we do in our day-to-day interactions?

Why a Man Should Strive to Be More Civil Online

A gentleman treats others with dignity and respect, regardless of the kind of forum in which he participates. He treats life’s fellow travelers as he himself would like to be treated. And in doing so, he makes the world a little better of a place everywhere he goes. He leaves those he interacts with feeling edified and uplifted instead of depressed and angry. Every man has the power to brighten his corner of the world, whether that corner be in the office, his home, or online. The more men who decide to take the higher road of civility, the more enjoyable everyone’s lives become. And choosing to reject our baser impulses in favor of our higher ones is a big part of becoming our best selves and building our legacy.

We all have daily annoyances that build up a well of anger inside of us. But instead of taking this rage out on others, it should be released healthily through things like exercise, meditation, and time spent in nature.

How to Be More Civil Online

Being a gentleman online simply involves the application of common sense. But anyone who leaves their home each day knows how uncommon common sense can be.

In our grandfathers’ and great-grandfathers’ time, etiquette books were extremely popular; believe it or not, Emily Post’s tome on the subject was one of the most requested books by GIs during World War II. Our forefathers understood something we often forget: no matter how common sense something is, without frequent reminders and practice, humans are drawn to the path of least resistance. While our culture has largely dropped these reminders to be our better selves, today we’ll fill in the gap by reviewing some common sense principles for being a gentleman online.

1. Remember that there are real people on the other side of the computer.

This is so easy to forget. We see only our screen and our empty apartment; the faces of folks out there who will be reading what we write seem unreal and nebulous. But they are out there. And your words can truly wound them. So when writing something, keep this rule in mind:

2. Never say something to someone online that you wouldn’t say to the person’s face.

Perhaps the most important rule for online interactions. People level the kind of vitriol online they would assuredly never say to someone’s face. I know a website owner that sometimes figures out the phone numbers of those who leave extremely rude comments and calls them up to ask what made them say something like that. Inevitably, the confronted person, hearing the voice of a real human being, is reduced to a stammering, apologetic mess.

3. Use your real name.

This is simple: if you’re not proud enough of something to have it associated with your real name, then why are you writing it?

Yes, there are caveats to this rule–legitimate reasons for anonymity. But when typing in an alias, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Do you have a valid reason for doing so, or do you simply wish to avoid ownership of your words because they are rude?

4. Sit on it.

This is something I’ve had to learn by experience and still struggle with. You see something that makes your blood boil, you’re filled with the desire to absolutely eviscerate a person, and you furiously type out a scathing response and press send. And later you regret it.

Instead, go ahead and write out your comment to get it off your chest, but sit on it for several hours or even a day. I know it feels like you simply have to get it off your chest at that very moment, but your adrenaline and heart rate are up and you’re not thinking clearly. Give it some time and you’ll be amazed at how “I must respond!” will transform into “Eh, who cares?”

Source: xkcd.com

5. Or don’t respond at all.

Your mom was right: If you don’t have something nice to say, sometimes it’s best not to say anything at all. This is another thing I’ve learned from experience and still slip up with. I used to want to rebut every bit of criticism directed at me, but I’ve learned to choose my battles and that it’s often better not to get involved at all. Just let people do their thing. I know it’s difficult because when we feel someone is wrong, it’s so hard to let it go. We want to show people the error of their ways and change their minds.

But as sure as you are about being right, you can never win an online argument. Why? Because of something called the “backfire effect.” In this article on the effect by David McRaney, which I highly recommend reading, he explains the fact that far from changing people’s minds, threatening someone’s beliefs actually strengthens and entrenches them further. This is why I generally abstain from heated internet debates; they get you all worked up, waste your time, and go absolutely nowhere.

If you come across a discussion where you really feel like a different perspective needs to be added, just jump in and civilly state your case instead of responding directly to specific people. People are much more likely to consider your point of view when they experience it indirectly as opposed to feeling attacked.

6. Say something positive.

Studies have shown what people already know from experience: folks are more likely to make negative comments in online forums than positive ones. It makes sense; when something makes you angry, you’re much more motivated to complain about it and want to vent. McRaney explains why this is:

“A thousand positive remarks can slip by unnoticed, but one “you suck” can linger in your head for days. One hypothesis as to why this and the backfire effect happens is that you spend much more time considering information you disagree with than you do information you accept. Information which lines up with what you already believe passes through the mind like a vapor, but when you come across something which threatens your beliefs, something which conflicts with your preconceived notions of how the world works, you seize up and take notice. Some psychologists speculate there is an evolutionary explanation. Your ancestors paid more attention and spent more time thinking about negative stimuli than positive because bad things required a response. Those who failed to address negative stimuli failed to keep breathing.”

Well, I certainly want to keep breathing, but I don’t want to only respond to things that make me angry. So this is something I’ve been working on too. When I read a blog post I enjoy, I find it easy to think, “That was great,” before surfing away. So I’ve been trying to take a minute to type those thoughts out before moving on. As a blog owner myself, I know how incredibly encouraging it is to hear something positive.

How else can we cultivate civility online?

 

{ 244 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Ben Cave July 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

Another fantastic article, Brett. I especially enjoyed the xkcd.com reference (great online comic!). I think this should be mandatory reading for anyone who decides to post anything online, especially sites like YouTube, as what people say can be downright atrocious.

102 Travis July 14, 2011 at 11:40 am

Great article. I do agree with some of the comments on here that some of the questionable comments that were left should be taken with the same grain of salt that the article was written with. Pretty hard these days to write a “How-to” article about the Zombie apocalypse and not attract some strange comments from strange people.
All this being said, there is a huge problem with commenting online. Look at any sports articles, news stories or God forbid, YouTube comments and you’ll see the very epitome of classless, juvenile behavior. I understand there are strong opinions when concerning team loyalties or political leanings, but this language and antagonizing nature only lessen the credibility of your opinion to anyone who actually might have influence in the subject matter. And YouTube? When someone can post a home video of their child doing something they think is cute and a flood of violent/perverted comments come flooding in, I tend to lose a little more faith in the generation or class of people who choose to spend their time and energies in such a way. Some of this may be solved by making them accountable and not anonymous, but I have my doubts.
To the author of this article and those involved with the upkeep of this site: keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your site material almost daily and I value the frame of mind it usually puts me in. Bravo.

103 Brandon L July 14, 2011 at 11:49 am

Great stuff. I JUST had an internet debate get into a squabble, but both the other person and myself finally came around and admitted that we had allowed our words to go in the wrong direction, no intending to start a fight, but both found the conversation fascinating and challenging, even though we disagreed.

104 Dallas Gaytheist July 14, 2011 at 11:54 am

I want to point out that social networking is a relatively new way of interacting for humans, and I think that there is an inevitable learning curve that accompanies that, both individually and collectively.

With the newfound anonymity, people did find ways to let their guard down. Not only did they reveal more about themselves than ever before, but they also allowed themselves to behave in ways they wouldn’t have normally — even in very negative ways. Perhaps we needed this, but what now — now that we have so much more experience with it?

Today, I think my manner of interacting online is much more mature and sophisticated than it was many years ago. Experience changes us. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. However, I do find that my response to different posts is greatly influenced by my current mood. Sometimes I’m patient and considerate; other times not so much.

There is a lot of nonsense and vitriol out there, and it is difficult to refrain from calling someone an ass when they clearly deserve it. I cannot help but wonder if being nice to these people is not some kind of concession. If they want TO BE RESPECTED, then they need to behave in ways that engender respect.

I have no problem with calling a spade a spade, and mollycoddling stupidity for the sake of civility gets us nowhere. Of course, appeals to reason don’t help much either — Dunning-Kruger and all that jazz!

The problem is that people are more concerned with FEELING THAT THEY ARE RIGHT than actually being right. It requires a lot of hard work and self-examination to gain genuine confidence that our worldview is both accurate and fair.

When you challenge someone’s worldview you challenge their FEELING OF RIGHTNESS, which means that neither insults nor patient explanations will do much to change their mind. What you have to change is their feelings towards their own worldview.

105 Tom Gunn July 14, 2011 at 11:57 am

Well said, Brett. I look forward to a future in which being anonymous online is much more difficult, if not impossible. Your civility online should effect your life like a credit score. Under such a system, fiends and creeps may find themselves unable to participate in anything other than their own facebook wall.

How about some more articles on persuasion? I’d love to learn more about getting people you disagree with onto your side of things.

106 lady brett July 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

spot on, sir. i always try to be twice as civil if i am disagreeing with someone! it’s a great deal more effective (and appropriate, clearly).

a note on anonymity – as a rather introverted person, i find it much easier to make even positive comments under my pen name. of course, it is at this point more of an alter-ego than anonymity. that is to say, i have an interest in keeping up “lady brett’s” appearance almost as well as my own.

107 scott July 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm

As we walk through our daily lives we may frequently be faced with attitudes, opinions, or actions we disagree with, but the fear (as a survival instinct, maybe?) of the potential response we may face if we were to confront every one of these situations most often keeps us in check, except maybe to the most egregious offenses. Men and women both only seem to “man up” in everyday society when someone is really offensive. But put people, for instance, in a more anonymous position, i.e. the internet, or worse yet, behind the wheel of a car, and their rage flies when someone offends their sensibilities or slights them in the vaguest ways. We all need to follow the advice of today’s article, and try to remember to keep that healthy fear around to help keep us all in check. Definitely find a better outlet for our own rage and frustrations than to flash it at other human beings so flippantly.

Another great article, and thank you for my daily dose of “how to be a better man”.

108 frank boulware July 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
Thanks for the information, one of the reasons i won`t watch the news, or read yahoo comments on news! working out, or being in nature is great, but maybe we need to go deeper to the heart of the matter,we need the word , the truth, and the light.

109 JFR July 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Dear Brett & Kate,

You ask “How else can we cultivate civility online?” Always be sure that one’s spelling grammar, and syntax are as good as possible. To some these are trivial or mechanical elements, but here are three reasons why they promote civility. First, they require some additional time to, as you say, ‘sit on it.’ Second, they help build confidence in what you are writing, and confidence promotes graciousness. Third, they represent fundamental courtesy to the reader.

110 Ian Connel July 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Fantastic post, Brett. Super eloquent and lessons I have (partially) learned the hard way going after trolls. Way to light the path.

111 Ian Connel July 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Oh yeah, also credit to Kate. Both of you have created something awesome again.

112 Sh. Abazi July 14, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for 2 years or more now but never commented, so this must be my first comment here. Your blog has been always a good manual/guide/reference on “how to be a man”, a real man, not these magazine like man.
Well, I just wanted to say thank you and keep up the good work.

113 Brenden July 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Hi Brett and Kate,

Loved this post. Although I don’t comment anywhere for any reason a lot I am now going to make more of an effort to comment in even if it is just to say: Great post.

Thanks for the site by the way the world needs gentlemen. from years gone by(even those not so far away)

114 Emily July 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Great article! Very true as well. Sometime the online world can get the best of us, so it’s good to remember these things!

115 Vince July 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

In many cases, you can delete people’s negative comments rather than respond to them. I don’t know why anyone would get on back and forth spats for others to see on Facebook when you can just delete someone’s comments and remove them from your friends if necessary.

116 Geoff July 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm

The Internet only serves as a mirror to society. I agree wholeheartedly with the article. I think there may be another dynamic here. In the real world there is more compartmentalization that naturally occurs. We say things to the boys in a bar that we would never say in mixed company at church. The internet blurs and mixes all of this. Just notice the inappropriate comments that show up on facebook all the time.

117 Rox Fontaine July 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Man, I love this website! Great post. Great observations. “A gentleman treats others with dignity and respect, regardless of the kind of forum in which he participates.” SPOT ON!

118 H. Brevard Brown III July 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Excellent article, this is a problem i’ve thought a lot about for a number of reasons. You’ve already addressed some of the most important points, and most of us fall victim to some of these pitfalls from time to time. One thing that works for me is to remember that while its okay to make snarky or sarcastic comments when you’re among your friends or people who share your sense of humor, keep in mind that the WHOLE WORLD does not agree that you are funny or even clever. A lot of time private asides that might be funny to you & your pals make you look really cruel or like a complete ass when viewed online. Another great way to be more civil and gentlemanly like online is to treat all online communications like you would if you were writing a real pen and paper letter (remember those?). Open with a greeting, dont abbreviate words, steer away from ‘netspeak’ or text shortcuts, and close the letter properly with a salutation and your name. People will take you more seriously and appreciate the time you put into even the most trivial communications. I read old letters all the time, and i’m often astounded by how nice and refined even the most scathing and scandalous letters used to sound. Finally remember that anything you write online will be in existence FOR EVER!! Charles Dickens, one of the greatest writers of all time, used to burn all of his correspondence just so it could’nt be spied on or have it used against him later. Today there is no such defense for anything you post online, its out there for better or for worse, until the end of our civilization. Do you really want someone decades from now to see what a jerk you can be to total strangers? Trust me, they won’t find your snarky comment nearly as clever as you do. In fact, most people TODAY won’t either!

119 Mia Pusa July 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Thank you! This was such a generous response to the nasty comments you had recieved. On my blogs (I clearly have no self-perservation instincts since I have two but then again very few read them, too) I think I have on both this quote from Kahlil Gibran: “If indeed you must be candid, be candid beatuifully.” :) Anyway just wanted to do the same and take a moment to thank you for posting this piece.

120 Ellen July 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Great article. Keep up the good work!

121 Justin July 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I think this is a good follow up to those behaviors. I agree with some of the comments left on this article that sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt. There will always be those immature individuals (online or in person) that we have to deal with. Maybe some will change, but it is probably more productive that we learn to deal with them in a suitable fashion.

I especially like the sit on it suggestion. There have been instances where I have hit reply to an email or wrote a review. Most haven’t been scathing, but I really got what I wanted to say or felt out on them. Then I click X or delete them. By the time I finish it, the anger or frustration is gone. Many times I don’t even finish what I was writing.

Recently I read a book and really enjoyed it. I went on to amazon to see the reviews. They all were positive except two. The two weren’t even rants, but they were one star and simple, saying they just didn’t enjoy the book. What blew me away was the comments on those two reviews. The author left comments on them. He talked about how the book didn’t deserve a one star review just because they didn’t like it and that they didn’t add anything helpful for customers reading reviews and trying to select a product. I can agree with the later, but regardless, what benefit did it give him? It just made him look bad.

In writing this comment, I just had the realization that maybe it wasn’t even him, but someone that just used his name. At the end of the day, online or in “real life,” you have to stop and evaluate what someone does, says, or types means to you and how you are going to let it affect you. If I had read the author comments before reading the book, I very well may not have read it and it would have been my loss.

122 Nathan July 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Cracker-jack job! It’s sad you had to even post this on a site for MEN. There’s a new show on abc family called cyberbully about middle shcool girls who are mean on the internet. Let’s not be those mean middle school girls, but the men we are intended to be.

123 Jason July 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Brett,

I am new to blogging, and don’t normally comment. I have enjoyed your sight for several months now. I have tried to implament some of the articles I’ve read, impressing my wife with a dinner and crafts with the kids. I don’t always agree with what I read here. However I do admire the effort taken at writting and publishing the articles. Please don’t let the troubles of other people to understand value in all things, even that which they don’t agree slow your efforts. This site is a great resource and very enjoyable if not always agreeable.

124 Caleb Brophy July 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Hey, im an avid reader of this site and I have to say every poi
nt you made here is dead on but I would like to add one: what you say online can effect you in “real life”. This is a lesson I learned the hard way a few years back and has totally changed the way I interact with the online world. Even if your posting something anonymously, you neverknow who will read it or realize how easy it might be for someone to figure out who you really are.

125 Matthew Johnson July 14, 2011 at 3:01 pm

This was a very good article. I find that as I get old, 30 now, I’m focusing much more on social skills and treating people with respect.

It’s a very odd world we live in now. My fiance was walking down the sidewalk yesterday with groceries and a group of men(?) in their 20′s came from behind on the sidewalk and knocked her groceries out of her hands, as a group they ran over as much of it that had fallen as they could in one pass (about $50 worth) and said she was too fat to be eating anyway. I couldn’t believe it when she told me, it set me into a rage and I’m still thinking about the terrible things I want to do that group of sub-humans if I ever see them.

I just can’t fathom a world where men would treat women like (even or men like this). I don’t know what is causing this disrespect people seem to have for each other. I suspect it’s violent movies, games, porn, binge drinking, lack of social skills, etc.

Anyway, your article made me think of that and I wanted to share it with the group. We live in a world where people care less and less about each other all the time. It’s going to be hard but we all need to hone our own social skills and teach our sons/nephews/grand children/etc what it means to be man and how to properly treat others.

Good luck everyone!
Matt
Minneapolis

126 Chris Hayes July 14, 2011 at 3:06 pm

To Tom Gunn, on persuasion:

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about persuasive techniques and rhetoric in the last few days (I work in a start up, and we’re focusing heavily on a pitch for investors, right now). Here are a couple of conclusions that I’ve come to, myself. They are opinions, but I feel pretty strongly that they have a lot of merit.

1) It is far easier to convince somebody by appealing to their heart than their head. You can argue facts and details until you’re blue in your face. But if you don’t get the person *interested* in what you’re saying, you won’t get them *thinking* about what you say. And if you don’t get them to bridge the chasm in your view points, then you won’t have them interested in what you’re saying.

2) To that point, tell a story. Rather than saying “This viewpoint is right because…”, use something like “Imagine you’re in this situation… how would it feel?” – it is far less confrontational, and sets the person up to be looking at things from a particular point of view. Most disagreements stem from the fact that people can’t come to a mutual starting point/frame of reference for the debate.

3) To mitigate the problems with your argument being seen as an “attack” on their belief, phrase it in the form of a “I see where you’re coming from”. Point out the parts you agree with – this does not hurt your argument. It can only help, because, again, it puts you and your “opponent” on a common footing to work from. It takes away the feeling of opponent, and brings in a bit of a feeling of colleague.

My $2.

127 Korin July 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Great article.
I would love to see a follow-up article of how to respond to people who are not civil to you online. How do you remain a gentlemen when someone is telling you that you shouldn’t reproduce or should kill yourself? It would be nice to be able to get the person’s cell number and call them out, but unfortunately that wouldn’t work most of the time.

128 Chris Hayes July 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

@Korin, and others wondering about the gentlemanly way to deal with trolls – in real life, or virtual. Because, really, you should be able to deal with them the same.

Just. Ignore. Them.

Really. 99% of people recognize them for what they are, and give no credence to their words. The other 1% are likely trolls, themselves.

I am reminded of a time when I was around 18, visiting my girlfriend at the time. We had gone on an outing with some friends of my gf, and their family. One girl that came along was a venomous little thing, with nothing good to say about anybody. Including my girlfriend, who was supposedly her friend.

At the end of the night, she said something to me along the lines of “Best of luck. Be ready when your girlfriend drops you like she did me.” I just waved a dismissive good bye, and gave no verbal response. Afterwords, *everybody* in the van commended me on handling that situation with integrity. And all I did was treat her words exactly with the value they had: none.

129 Chris Hayes July 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Hm. It’s been over a decade. I did actually say something – which might have been even more dismissive, and yet, incredibly cordial: “Have a nice night.”

I responded to her venomous stab at both my judgement and my girlfriend’s supposed tendencies and patterns, with a simple, cordial, bid adieu.

130 Matt July 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Love it. Well said.
@ Korin and Chris

I agree with Chris on this. I really don’t like the “Kill em with kindness” phrase, because some people don’t even deserve that respect or energy required to do so. However, not giving the person the pleasure of letting them know they pushed your buttons and shooting back at them with a quick nasty comment will usually shut them up.
There will come a time when even that does not work and you simply have to stand up for yourself and let them know they are a waste of your time and be done with it. There is luckily the IGNORE / BLOCK button available on many online sites as well as the UNFRIEND option.
If you surround yourself with people like Chris’s old girlfriends friend, you need to look in the mirror and reevaluate who you are associating with. Many times, they aren’t worth your time, effort, or energy.

Love the site!

131 Isis July 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Top notch article, as always.

I’m always completely surprised and charmed when I come across people behaving courteously in any sort of online forum. Also when encountering complete sentences made of spelled-out words, but that’s a different story. Honestly, with things how they are, it’s easy to shine just by being literate and not starting flame wars.

I’m continually impressed by the caliber of people commenting on this site. My favorite exchange of all time is the series of comments between Steve and Steve on the ‘Blow Up Your Relationship With Your Mother’ article. I go back and read that conversation once in a while when I’ve lost faith in the Internet. I am still absolutely floored by how the two gentlemen in question resolved their differences in a most elegant fashion.

Kudos.

132 Andy D. July 14, 2011 at 5:44 pm

(suggestion) #7 Don’t ploiticize everything.

Today there was an article about a guy that off’ed his mistress in a parking lot. There were comments about Obama. The president or democrats or whatever have nothing to do with this story. Nothing at all.

133 Andy D. July 14, 2011 at 5:45 pm

*politicize

134 Tyrone July 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Well said! This is a topic I have thought very little about until reading about it here, but it is certainly something that needs to be proliferated throughout the web as a whole. I truly think most people would be more conscious of their posts if they stopped for a second to realize that the person reading it isn’t just floating around the internet, but is a living breathing person, likely sitting in their underwear eating cheerios in their apartment with some pandora playing in the background. In other words, a real person with a real life and real feelings! Anyway, Great work you big JERK! ;)

135 Dana July 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Beautiful! I loved every word.

136 Tallhonkey81 July 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Brett, Kate,

I really liked this article, I really liked the survival article. What I didnt like is that it seems that you may have taken the “needing one shell” comment personally. I dont want you to die, thats silly, but I really thought the comment was entertaining. That dry and tasteless humor is funny to me. I’m not sure why i find it entertaining, maybe it reminds me of the style of humor we had while I was in the submarine force, or maybe I enjoy thinking about my own additude in contrast to the bitter person who wrote that comment. Ultimately, I feel that I have a valuable gift. That gift is that ability to not let what people may think or say have much of an affect on my feellings.

I can tell by the content of your articles, that you are good people. People that I would like to have a beer and a burger with or maybe throw some corn hole. Keep writing great articles, keep being a great american, and try not to let the negativity get to you. Maybe find some humor in it!

T

137 Daniel July 14, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Thanks for a very good article. I’ve wrestled with these problems over the years but am waking up to the things you talk about.

I love the xkcd cartoon you used, but your Point 4 was pretty much the prose version of this cartoon:

http://www.thedoghousediaries.com/?p=2750

I find this cartoon funny, but I actually refer to it whenever I see someone who’s “wrong on the internet”. I’ve got it posted up on my wall in my office, and instead of falling into the trap of passionately “correcting” them, I’ll take a quick glance, have a laugh, shake my head, and move on.

138 Aaron P. July 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm

This blog sucked and I think you need to stop breathing. ;)

In all seriousness, it is refreshing to see a call to be more civil online. I admit that I haven’t always acted in a civilized manner online. In many cases, I’ve decided to just stop visiting forums when I caught myself getting too negative. I’ll have to keep this in mind.

139 Native Son July 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Just a minor note on using a “nom de ‘Net”. I use a psuedonym on the site because:
1. There are folks who copy and repost threads onto other sites.

140 Michael July 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm

I agree, it’s a trap that’s easy to fall into. With most things, I just try to remember how difficult it is to change people’s minds and that I’ll forget about it in a day or so.

I don’t really get the “Carmex” line, though. Carmex is petroleum based and putting it on a condom would erode the latex and make it break… leading to more people like you. Did I miss something? Vitriol is rarely rational

141 Michael H July 15, 2011 at 12:03 am

This is my first time commenting on this site, though I’ve been a reader for a little over a year. First, let me say that I love the work that you and your wife are doing here. It’s been a very positive influence in my life, and a much needed break from the static of shallow absurdity that’s so prevalent in the media and online. I couldn’t be happier for you that you’ve managed to make this a successful venture.
Also, the trend you address above is one that I discussed with my wife less than a week ago. I’ve always enjoyed seeing others’ opinions on different subject matter as it comes up in the blog, but the past couple of months i’ve had to just stop reading after browsing only a few comments because i’ll find myself so dumfounded by the juvenility that i’ll lose the excitement about the original idea that’s being discussed.
When i first subscribed to the AOM site, I read through the “rules of engagement” and thought I’d found a safe-haven, of sorts, from the YouTube and Facebook crowd, but i guess with the growing popularity of this blog, it was bound to happen.
I would assume that “moderating” the comments sections across all these fascinating articles would be a full-time-job for several people, so i can understand the frustration that you might feel.
Anyway, I look forward to seeing more intelligent conversation from the upcoming commenters.
Thank you for your eloquence and insight, and “BULLY!” for AOM.

Good luck and best wishes, Brett and Kate.

MVH

142 Devon G. July 15, 2011 at 1:08 am

Brett, you are the Man. Excellent article. I would have posted the link to my Facebook status but I didn’t want my friends to get a bad impression of AoM from the fact the article started with a quote about condoms =P Even so, I would recommend this article (and entire site) to anyone! God bless you and your work.

143 Dominic July 15, 2011 at 6:56 am

Great article. I have learnt some new ways to make the i-world a better place.Thanks. Dominic, Nigeria

144 john day July 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

Great article! I’m a guest here and this is your site! If I don’t like something I need to move on or do something else! This IS still your page! But everyone needs to remember that the internet police are watching you and are going to respond! Today I am not an internet cop! keep up the GOOD work……….. John Day

145 Tonda July 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

I enjoy your articles and share them with my sons. Please keep up the great work. For the non-gentlemen who did not know any other way to express themselves other vulgarity, let them be aware that true ladies do not condone this behavior.

Thank you for your time and efforts and keep up the great work.

146 Taylor July 15, 2011 at 11:25 am

@ JFR #109

I agree wholeheartedly!

Another important reason to use correct grammar and spelling is to avoid the inevitable name calling and ad hominim attacks that are sure to be heaped upon anybody who makes a single mistake in their writing. A key part of promoting civility online is to not only be civil, but where possible to deny others the chance to be uncivil.

147 Eric July 15, 2011 at 11:39 am

One of the worst things you can do during online debate is to make it personal (or take it personally). If somebody says something you think is incredibly naive or just plain stupid, don’t call THEM stupid, but instead spell out why you think the idea is naive. The great fun (for me, anyway) in online debate is the freewheeling discussion of ideas. Nobody’s ideas are perfect, all points of view can use some refining, and hashing them out online is a perfect way to get down to the nitty gritty… right up until somebody uses a percieved flaw in your logic and recasts it as a flaw in your personal character (or up until the point you do the same to somebody else).

Even if the people you are engaged with are not interested in the fine points of debate, taking their words personally is just a huge mistake. I’ve seen people who are almost pathologically incapable of letting an internet insult slide. One forum I frequent recently saw a longtime regular poster get banned because he was so personally offended by another poster that he got hold of his IP address, tracked down his personal information, and posted it for all to see, inviting other posters to harass the man in his personal life. That’s just crazypants.

Always remember you are under no obligation to respond to somebody online who you think is being disingenuous. Remember that, and 90% of the problems of online incivility are solved.

148 Mark July 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Well said. I work in retail and unfortunately it’s not just online. There seem to be more and more angry people out there ready to take it out on whomever is convenient at the time. I thought it was a great post and enjoyed reading it and many others. Keep em coming.

149 Jim July 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

This kind of goes along with a Penny Arcade strip from years ago–the Greater Internet ****wad Theorem. Basically, average guy + anonymity + audience = total ****wad. And history is rife with examples. Give a man a mask and you’ll see who he really is.

Too many people I’ve run into think being a man is all about being the biggest, the strongest, the most powerful person in the room, able to shout anyone down with sheer force. On the Internet that comes out in spades, as now not only do the little dweebs that think like this have an avenue to do so, they have a shield to hide behind when things invariably go pear-shaped.

150 Jim July 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Excellent article! Perhaps those that post such juvenile opinions are lashing out due to their pent up aggression, but it’s their own fault for that aggression building. In the Marines I learned to handle each situation as it arises, or as soon as possible if immediate wasn’t an option, and to use appropriate force. It’s amazing how negative aggression doesn’t build when you address your obstacles. Even if unresolved.

151 Jake July 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Always use a pseudonym on the internet, always. It’s easy to think that nothing you say will ever catch up to you if you really mean it, but come on. That’s hogwash. Perhaps a potential employer googles your name and finds that your opinions don’t gibe with his own, or a million other situations.

Are you just who you are now to everybody in your life? Or do you show more kindness toward your mother? Do you show your drinking buddies your rough side? Do you talk intimately with your wife? This is why I think Facebook has been so full of disasters… everything you say is for everybody you know, which is unrealistic (it’s never been the norm, even in the “good old days.”)

152 C T Hall July 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

This is a great article; thanks for the reminder of civility.

153 Neil July 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I really enjoyed reading this article because of how thoughtful and well written it was. I wish I still had a facebook account because it would be a perfect post to share with my friends.

154 Alan July 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm

After reading this article I went over to reddit.com and this was the first link on the page:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfwwHa-7Ux8&feature=channel_video_title

seems relevant.

155 Espen Bjørgan July 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm

“How else can we cultivate civility online?”

The same way as we should in real life. People need to learn how to just shut the fuck up and get on with it. That’s the basis of it all. It’s all down to choosing your battles and keeping your mouth shot when you don’t have anything of importance and/or relevance to bring to the table.

156 B.E. July 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Good day, Bret & Kate,

My tip doesn’t exactly have much to do with civility online, but it’s A LOT better when people spell with proper grammar and spelling.

For example, I once stumbled upon a video on YouTube, and of course, there was a heated debate going on in the comment section. The two who were going at it both had extremely powerful points of view and arguments, and it was hard to choose which side to go with. However, one of the debaters typed with perfect spelling and grammar, and the other with text language; e.g: “how r u 2day?”. I found that I respected the one who spelled perfectly more than the other.

And besides, it looks a hell of a lot more proper and sophisticated.

Cheers,
B.

157 JeffC July 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm

@ Espen Bjørgan (post #155): you do know that this article was about how to improve online civility, right?

Thanks, Brett/Kate: another winner. You guys are amazing.

Jeff

158 JeffC July 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm

P.S.— love the Photoshopped image at the top.

159 JeffC July 15, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Hey, I just went back and checked out the latest comments on the Zombie-gun article that prompted this one. It seems I’ve been promoted to “tool bucket.” Thanks, fin, you’re a fine fellow to be so generous with your praise.

And thanks, Pedro, for your post, I appreciate it. It’s apparent by your reference to Atticus Finch, and from your personal anecdote, that you see value using good literature to promote growth in our own characters. My hat’s off to you. Some may have missed, but I think you did not, that reading good literature makes one a more discerning reader (and one may also argue a deeper and better thinker); my mentioning the writer’s over-use of a favorite word was only to bring it to his attention so that he might be mindful to work to eliminate this distraction from his prose in the future, and so strengthen the impact of his work. Good communication, achieved with good communication skills, is manly.

I realize that I may have been perceived as petty, but that was not my intention at all.

To the poster who suggests we ignore others’ web-attacks: I think it was Emily Post (but I could be wrong here) who said something to the effect of “the greatest display of etiquette is to never give a hint that you perceive that you’ve been offended,” in other words, don’t get down in the mud with pigs. Showing that restraint can be evidence that “you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs” and would make Rudyard Kipling smile in his grave, and maybe whisper, “You are a man, my son.”

Sincerely,
Jeff (Tool Bucket)

160 Brett McKay July 15, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I’ve quite enjoyed the gentlemanly discussion, men! Thanks for the comments.

A few have mentioned using proper grammar and spelling as a way to promote civility online. I think that’s important, but I would say that not pointing out grammar mistakes would do more for civility overall. I’m not personally a fan of those who delight in pointing out corrections for others, even if it is done ostensibly to help the person improve. The reason I feel this way is that these types of comments fall under the “don’t say something to someone online that you wouldn’t say to their face” rule. When talking to someone, even an intimate friend, I would never offer a grammatical critique to what they said unless they specifically asked for feedback. To me that comes off as smug and impolite. I have made it a policy to rarely offer advice, unless it is asked of me first.
This is further compounded by the fact that the internet is a public forum. We have actually made it part of the comment policy not to offer grammatical and other corrections in the comments, but to instead send us an email. We’re fine with corrections, but leaving them in the comments is off-topic, ends up being distracting (when people read the comment, they will look for it in the post, and it may already be changed), and, most importantly, is simply rude. If a friend or co-worker made a mistake, would you take them aside to let them know privately or would you announce it in front of hundreds or thousands of people? I think a gentleman would choose the former. That’s my two cents, at least.

161 Bruce Williamson July 15, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Even though Brett and I have had few disagreements, they were off line. This article is a good in pointing that a level of civility is warranted while on line. The Internet is a public forum and things should never be posted that aren’t for public consumption.

162 Gareth July 16, 2011 at 12:17 am

A very important and relevant post. When you’re writing anonymously online, it’s all too easy to say something offensive with the misconception of ‘winning’ an argument or something which you may think is funny which is only insulting. You just have to look at the comments on YouTube to see that. Thanks for the excellent post.

163 Steve Harrington July 16, 2011 at 1:46 am

Right on, Brett. I would never go into someone’s workplace and come up to their desk, and say, “You suck!” or “You’re doing it wrong.” or “You made a mistake there.” People have forgotten that the position of mentor or teacher is EARNED. It is not randomly bestowed on strangers who cannot help offering their unsolicited advice. And if something is so pressing that a stranger feels they must say something, then such an exchange should always be conducted in private! No exceptions.

What’s interesting to me is that “grammar Nazis” never seem to have written anything of note themselves. Instead they are armchair generals, reduced to pointing out a misplaced comma here, a misspelled word there. But as Teddy said, “It is not the critic who counts!”

164 AMCROS July 16, 2011 at 7:01 am

Awesome and timely article for me Brett. I joint an online group and ended up wanting the approval of the other guys there so much I betrayed a confidence I would never have done with people face to face. I resented it when people did not see my point and felt like I had to defend my stance every time I was bagged. Now I feel guilty about the betrayal and have decided to apply your rules as above and leave the group (not without coming under fire of course) to make it up to my best friend.
I found being a faceless entity does provide more freedom to say what you want but it does not give you the right to ALLOW yourself to say whatever you want without regard for those you are communicating about or with.
For me being a man meant standing behind the words I said, being able to look at myself in the mirror each evening and knowing that I have acted with dignity throughout the day and more importantly being honest with those I love and care about. Being a faceless internet entity turned me into a boy!

165 Blake Helgoth July 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

Great article. Civility in all of our actions is something for which we should all strive. That is why I think that one should always use their real name when posting. One should never say anything, unless it is a very personal question about somehting for which they are seeking advice, that they would not be comfortable putting their name on. You full name means that you, as a person, stand by your words. It is the gentlemanly thing to do and it adds credence to you argument. Sure, there are a thousands arguments why one should not use their real name online to protect themselves, etc. Really, if you are spending time in places on the internet where the other people there provoke this fear, then they are probably no the place for a gentleman anyway. Put your name on things you write.

166 Blake Helgoth July 16, 2011 at 11:22 am

This is another point, so I am posting again (posts that try to make too many points lose their effectiveness). My wife and I were talking about the lack of common spaces in our culture were on can go and discuss serious topics, enter into civil argumentation for the purpose of truth seeking, or just discuss discuss good literature. I think that is why places like Starbucks became so popular, not because of the coffee, but for the common space they offered. So, we now we use the internet to provide a common space where these things can be accomplished. The problem, as you pointed out, is the lack of civility and decorom in the discussion.

167 Andrew July 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

Very good article. I used to be an immature flamer in certain online circles, but I realized the error and changed. I somewhat disagree with the article on not winning arguments.

If someone is rude to someone in a public (online) capacity, I think it’s appropriate to kindly call them out on it, publicly.

168 Joe Eden July 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm

A very insightful article. However, the imaginative barrier between online and offline world seems thinner than thought. I just wish people would bring civility into the off-line world first, rather than acting like the world owes them something.

169 Roly July 17, 2011 at 2:37 am

This is an excellent article. For a long time I’ve noticed that people are incredibly rude to one another online, and I find it very distasteful. There are real people involved, and how a simple commenting on a article can turn in to a full scale war of words is beyond me. Particulary on the AOM as here we are amongst men, who are manly men and should know how to behave.
Thank you very much for this article, I hope that it changes a few mindsets.

170 AMCROSS July 17, 2011 at 6:24 am

I have to admit this is one of the best articles I have read in a long time. It got me thinking about the false identity issue . Batman, spiderman, The Mighty Thor, Zorro and the Scarlett Pimpenel all characters that knew the value of a good double life. All characters that even when in one guise acted in a way that was true to themselves and their other personailities values i.e. batman did not bring shame on Bruce Wayne for his comments nor Thor On Don Blake. Instead they used it to protect those they loved and allowed them to act in a way that supported them as the men they were (all be it fictional) but without the bad guys tracking them down.
So what has this got to do with online use of a double persona…. well if all men acted as all men should with civility and goodgrace all men would be safe from persicution and retrapution but that is not the case point incase the awesome article that lead to this one loved the survival kit). I mean a lonely man reaching out online may feel saver in the venture to use a false name until he has negotated the pitfalls of flamers and detracters and as long as he reflects who he truely is, his values, beliefs and sense of integrity is this wrong? After all if we combine the sayings of “a rose by any other name” and ” to thine own self be true” is it possible to go under anopther name and still be you? Have any of the great men of history ever penned anything under another name to avoid persicution but to express the belief of their true soul?
Brett once again great article I love when I am made to think.

171 AMCROSS July 17, 2011 at 6:27 am

Sorry guys that should have read (case in point the awesome article that lead to this one loved the survival kit). then a new paragraph.
I mean a lonely man reaching out online may feel saver in the venture to use a false name until he has negotated the pitfalls of flamers and detracters and as long as he reflects who he truely is, his

172 Lavender Luck July 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

Amazing! Real men on the internet! Hard to find now. Love you!

173 Loren J July 17, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Thank you, Brett and Kate, for the wonderful article. I am dumbfounded by some of the comments people make toward others online. While browsing Facebook, I have noticed several of my friends who make absolutely horrible comments. I can think of one particular instance in which a friend made several derogatory remarks toward a potential employer in her status updates, only to wonder why she wasn’t chosen for the job.

174 Jack 72 July 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

#4 is particularly important. Abraham Lincoln was one to initially write a letter out of his frustration or anger with a person, then he put it aside in his desk. After a while he would write a much more calm and diplomatic letter that always was the better choice.

This article addresses such an important issue. It’s come to the point where I almost think Internet etiquette should be a year long course for every high school student. Bravo on bringing this point home in a well written article. Every one should be made to read it.

175 Nick July 17, 2011 at 1:59 pm

One thing that not a lot of people touch on is how being uncivil online makes it harder to communicate in person. Most of the guys I know that are “angry” through online comments have a difficult time with regular conversation in person. They get so used to being the tough guy online that it becomes the only way they know how to express themselves. Then when someone’s standing in front of them, they can’t say the same things and go blank. It hurts them a lot more than it helps.

Ask yourself why you’re being so upset in the first place? Why do you feel the need to tear others down and make yourself feel better? It usually stems from a place of insecurity and not being comfortable with who you are. Negative energy is a waste, unproductive, and destructive. When you start changing your attitude to a positive one, you’re possibilities open up dramatically. Better the community and it will better you.

176 sherry July 17, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I’m a female who adores your blog, I blog also. I like the old fashioned graphics. And I’m very thankful that your are out there encouraging todays man to be the best man he can be. I encourage my sons to read you frequently also. There are so many young men who have no idea what the word “etiquette” is nowadays. Your blog and esp. this article help bring attention back to what were once the basics of life. Thnks!

177 Kevin Beckford July 17, 2011 at 9:51 pm

I have a saying, I use often:

“You don’t have to be a jerk, but you will have to beat them.”

I like the idea, of this post but the internet, is not tame, nor should it be. You react to the negative comments because of a trick of biology, which made sense when your tribe was ruled by Dunbar’s Number ( 150 connections ), but not now. Your articles are great, and more importantly, timely. You should welcome the trolls and idiots, because they underline the quality of writing on this site. Another quote, hopefully to ease your mind:

“Let the rabble howl!” –Duke Corrino

178 Rick July 18, 2011 at 1:42 am

I like this article, although I’d like to add to your comments. Being a gentleman includes sharing and exchanging opinions, viewpoints values in a positive manner even when a middle ground remains undiscovered. So sharing of the “nasty” comments was uncivil simply because they nasty. One way to convey ones thoughts positively would be to create a separate document, write down all the nasty thoughts, comments, opinions in that document, save it, leave, and come back in 15, 20, 30, 60, or 90 minutes (your choice) to refine it so the message conveyed is still there without all the nastiness, and then post it with the intent of discussion and enlightenment of the group, and not “nasty bashing” an individual.

That’s all I have. Thanks for asking for my comments and allowing me to share!
Have a great day!
Rick

179 Rob July 18, 2011 at 5:53 am

Great article! interesting fact about GIs requesting the book on etiquette too – do you remember where you learned that? I’d be interested to look up a full top ten of what were the favourites.

cheers,
Rob

180 John July 18, 2011 at 10:57 am

This sucks and all of you suck too!

181 Mark Barsocchini July 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm

“How else can we cultivate civility online?”

After I finished reading this I say a scout patch I’ve on a bag, “Leave No Trace”. It struck me that, like in the out of doors where we try to leave things better than we left it, it also applies to people. Leave no trace may not be just for in our wilderness wanderings but, I believe, applies to our daily interaction with the world around us, people included.

182 Austin July 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Well done sir.

183 Craig July 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Well said, I’ve only just discovered AoM and it’s really giving my friends and I some food for thought.

Thanks for all your hard work

184 Alexander Fergus July 19, 2011 at 2:33 am

Brett,

I agree whole-heartedly with the comments regarding the “backfire effect” and grammatical corrections in the comment board. I enjoy your articles and guest posts very much, but it really should be noted by all visitors the diplomacy and tact you display whilst monitoring these boards. It makes for a unique experience in which we can discus,s with civility, the myriad of manly topics.

Let us hope that we all take the due-diligence to educate ourselves on ethical conduct online. This will ensure that we are all bettering ourselves and not turning those away from the community that could provide valuable knowledge. Keep up the good work!

Best,
Alex

185 Jared July 19, 2011 at 9:35 am

Thank you for writing this article and bringing the topic into discussion. I feel that much of the lack of civility (especially online) in society today comes a bit from our said “civility”. In years gone past, you knew that you might get shot, stabbed, or punched in the mouth for saying something rude or offensive. While I am not advocating violence, I feel that too many people have lived in a protective shadow of litigation and internet anonymity.

“An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” – Robert A. Heinlein

186 Johnny C July 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

How about avoiding posting passive-aggressive messages on your status updates on Facebook? The person or people you target usually never see it, don’t care for it, or don’t get your esoteric message, and for everyone else who sees it, you appear to be rude and lacking in propriety.

187 Jeffrey T. Guterman July 20, 2011 at 10:05 am

My suggestion is related to the recommendation above, “Sit On It.” A rule of thumb is that whenever you have very strong feelings, especially very strong negative feelings, those feelings will often, if not usually, mislead you. So, avoid acting on very strong negative feelings, such as anger, resentment, and the like. Also, be sensitive to others’ feelings by asking yourself, “How will they read what I am saying, posting, writing, etc.” Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes when reviewing your online activities. Sometimes providing additional clarification can help avoid misunderstandings.

188 Alex Barry July 20, 2011 at 11:06 am

I think the first comment was more-so for the zombie situation, and not a direct personal attack, but that’s just my interpretation.
The second comment, however, did seem to be a rather unfortunate attack.

Anyway, this article reflects how I like to roll on the internet. The problem mostly stems from, as you suggested, anonymity on the internet, meaning it is easier to be someone else when people don’t know who you are. I’m sure if the commenter was face to face with the Creek Stewart, they would have (hopefully) given them more respect. On the internet, it’s easier to try and show off rather than demonstrate respect, and this is usually from younger people who are trying to make a name for themselves on the internet.

Thanks for the post, though – I’ll have to setup a link to this article any time I start a new blog or forum :D
-Alex

189 Alex Barry July 20, 2011 at 11:08 am

Forgot to mention, I appreciated that this article is from your site, “artofmanliness” rather than another site. I don’t mean for that to sound sexist, but what I do mean is that a lot of men don’t see being a gentleman as being manly (which is completely untrue), so you get respect points for making it a point that it is being manly!

190 Ben July 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I highly enjoyed the article, as I’m an avid reader of websites with extensive comment sections. Although, I think my favorite part was how this article was secretly a plot to gain as much praise in the comment section as possible! Ha, a clever ruse Brett. But I kid, because the article brings up points not meant for the majority of the blog’s readers (even if it originated from another post from the site). It’s a message that needs to be sent more maintstream.

191 HOG July 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Brett and Kate, I love what you are doing here keep it up. “The better part of valor is discretion.” It is very possible Shakespeare knew everything. Unfortunately we live in a world where both valor and discretion are sometimes fleeting. Where emails and texts have rendered the face to face obsolete. However it is in those circumstances that the men are truly separated from the boys, because it is how we act when we think knowone is looking that truly defines us as men. Thank you guys and all of your contributers for a great site. I wish u all success…..

192 E Grace July 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Wonderful article – more people need to step back and think about what they’re saying before hitting “submit.” Also, thank you for the reminder to leave positive comments; I really appreciate all the articles, but it’s hard to remember to say so. Thanks for all your hard work and insightful articles.

193 Blake Harris July 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

Another fine article. A few years back I was very guilty of being uncivil on the internet. I nearly wrecked two relationships with some old buddies of mine. Fortunately they were willing to be the bigger man and let it be water under the bridge.

Keep it civil, gents and brohams. If more people frequented this site, the world would be a better place.

194 jweaks July 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Sound advice. Unfortunately, it is a problem that has existed beyond and before the internet. It is human nature to think the worst of others and the best of ourselves. The anonymity and separation of the internet increases this tendency.

Recognizing this is a good step in the right direction.

195 Daniel McKinney July 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I’m really glad some people actually care about treating others with respect. This was very encouraging. =]

196 Travis Halverson July 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm

http://www.permies.com is a forum that encourages civility with it’s one rule, “be nice”.

Paul Wheaton enforces this by deleting posts and banning people who are not contributing politely. He also encourages folks to use their real names.

Check it out for permaculture stuff, gardening, cooking, and other interesting bits of knowledge.

197 Fullermorg July 22, 2011 at 10:36 am

Shut it, you poof

198 Bruce July 22, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Spot on.

199 MrAllenU July 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with this article. All too often I have seen the nastier side of human beings when protected by anonymity on the internet.

Thanks for sharing.

200 Andrew Buchanan July 24, 2011 at 1:12 am

Great Article, I strive to be the gentlemen every day! Sometimes I come across some comments on videos and think what morons I’ll post something and that will show them! Then I realize, most of them will not care what I think so why bother! This is a great website and the Men who read and write the articles are fantastic!
Glad to see so much positive thinking! =]

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