Rejecting The Bullies

I know there’s an usually unwritten rule about commenting on commenting in the digital realm. I am sure it borders on some amorphous definition of meta, a word that I think is actually supposed to be a suffix and that I am definitely sure lacks a cohesive definition, but I’ve never been much for rules or ceremony. So, I’ll be blunt. The vast majority of comments on the internet are useless at best and destructive at worst.

I think this is similar to what internet pariah of the month, Denis Dyack, meant when he said internet forums need to be changed. Like many of you, I reacted initially to his comments with the knee-jerk “Ohhhh, Denis,” but as I’ve let the concept soak in the brine of my dissatisfaction with the vocal population of gamers on the web, I find myself increasingly inclined to agree.

To bemoan the horror of net discourse is certainly nothing particularly new. I have spent any number of hours reading vile and venom aimed at my own words, most often when I have said something unapologetically that runs counter to popularly held views such as: Piracy is bad for PC games; Vanguard isn’t a very good game; I’m looking forward to Fallout 3 and sometimes EA isn’t all bad.

I imagine should this missive break beyond the bonds of our oddly functional community, I will suffer similarly.

The democratization of the web – a term that means very little but sounds patriotic enough to demand respect – has installed an illusion of a digital first amendment that protects speech no matter how poorly spelled or stupid. Never mind that providing a comment section on a private website entitles nobody to a big helping spoonful of nothing, we are operating in a digital society that doesn’t just believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion – a tenet I grudgingly concede – but that they are entitled to express that opinion wherever they see fit.

The result of that is the web as we see it today, where the value of smartly considered discussion is weighted equally with loud and angry voices that offer nothing save new and creative ways to suggest a person self-impregnate. The alpha personalities of the web, cloaked in anonymity and set loose in this unrestrained medium, are a driving force in the lowered level of discourse on the web and, I think, a factor in the sad state of online journalism, dialogue and even product.

I am with Dyack in thinking the reign of the terminally loud and annoying has crossed the threshold from being irritating to being destructive. Whether they represent a minority or majority I can’t say, but they have become the dictators of warped common sense. They drive the discussions within and without the gaming sphere. Across what seems a dangerously wide segment of our culture, it is the hysterical and furious who dictate the tone of our shared discussions.

Odd as this may sound; I think part of the problem is the purity of the mode of online discussion. Understand that when I call the discussion pure, I’m speaking about the undistilled nature of comments. With anonymity, lack of repercussion and most importantly unfettered access to the web, people are free to shed the bounds of common decency, a sick beast itself, and respond in their most basic natures.

This is not a good thing.

I’ve said before that the bounds of our social contracts are the barriers between a functioning society and bashing each others’ heads in with rocks. Having to take responsibility for your words and actions are good things, and destroying those barriers can seem democratic from a broad view, but in practice just unlocks the checks blocking the most aggressive and opens an express lane to chaos.

What I’d really like to see, in many ways, is a system where people are not invisible. But that’s not practical. An alternative would be for more organizations create a more comprehensive and social approach to moderation, but that demands man-hours and resources. If anything, rampant internet malfeasance is a direct result of convenience, and again this seems equally unlikely.

So, the solution seems to be to reduce the accessibility of feedback. Interactivity does not necessarily need to be the holy grail of online reporting. Oftentimes, feedback seems out of place, and can swiftly become a distraction or even a detriment to the hosting organization. Do we really need to open the floor to every clown with an agenda to inject his or her venom? Does every place on the web necessarily need to follow up content with open mic night at the Tourettes Palace?

Why do we allow the sense of entitlement to persist that it is perfectly ok for any malcontent with an opinion and functioning fingers to walk into our online house and start hurling dirt on the walls? It seems counter intuitive to me, even self-destructive to be the vehicle for your own criticism, particularly criticisms that is misinformed, angry, motivated by alternative agendas and barely literate.

I don’t really need to know what Skizzbucket221 thinks about the issues of the day. It doesn’t make the web any less democratic. Shutting down Skizzy’s vitriol in our house doesn’t curtail his freedom to fire up his own blog. But, it does take away his visibility in a place like Joystiq, Slashdot or CNN, and forces him to build up a following on his own, which is where the real democracy is at.

Comments

Elysium wrote:

I have spent any number of hours reading vile and venom aimed at my own words...

Unless usage has evolved, vile isn't a noun...

Regardless, this is a good article. I've done my share of pointless and exhausting arguing on the internet, especially about videogames. It's so refreshing to find a place here where that's just not necessary. It's easy enough to make oneself understood here, and if people disagree that's fine and we can all move on.

What we have here is a pretty strong argument for the value of a beneficent dictatorship. Especially in contrast to places on the internet outside these walls that have embraced a democratic style of moderation, which seem to devolve into a sort of mob rule, where any dissent is from the prevailing "wisdom" is nuked into oblivion.

4dSwissCheese wrote:
Elysium wrote:

I have spent any number of hours reading vile and venom aimed at my own words...

Unless usage has evolved, vile isn't a noun...

Regardless, this is a good article. I've done my share of pointless and exhausting arguing on the internet, especially about videogames. It's so refreshing to find a place here where that's just not necessary. It's easy enough to make oneself understood here, and if people disagree that's fine and we can all move on.

What we have here is a pretty strong argument for the value of a beneficent dictatorship. Especially in contrast to places on the internet outside these walls that have embraced a democratic style of moderation, which seem to devolve into a sort of mob rule, where any dissent is from the prevailing "wisdom" is nuked into oblivion.

Isn't that truely what democracy is? The rule of the mob? Want civility, hire a dictator! It worked for Yugoslavia.

Unless usage has evolved, vile isn't a noun...

Ouch!

The english major just took a jab!

Add me to the club of people that never really posted on another internet forum before coming to GWJ. Most of them seemed (and still seem) to be populated by an immature crowd of baboons just looking to out-shock each other with their comments. I think the biggest problem is a lack of self-policing. I don't post a lot. This mostly has to do with my own self-editing. I often ask myself, "Does my comment really add to the discussion?" If the answer is "no," then it usually doesn't get posted. Sometimes a little snarkiness gets through, but I try to keep it in check. But, when I do post here, I know that most of the time my thoughts on the subject are as respected as just about anyone else's. This speaks very highly of the level of maturity on this site. It is the primary reason that I view this site daily.

Ok I penciled in nicer internet forums just after curing cancer and ending poverty on my checklist.

What about intra-community moderation? Eg, when 'ole Skizz makes a post, some number of other community members are asked whether the post has value & should be kept. If enough of them concur, the post stays. As a member, Skizz will be occasionally asked to moderate the postings of others, as well. Moderation judgments would have to be a matter of public record, so that overly aggressive moderators can be chastised for it.

I think it ends up devolving into exactly the problem, which is the loudest and most forceful will become the dictators of such a community.

Edit: Note, I think there's a great discussion to be had about the idea of forum dictatorship and the question of mob rule devolving into a dictatorship and the necessity of the benevolent moderation dictator.

... but vile and venom has such nice alliteration.

AmazingZoidberg wrote:

One of the things that has impressed me about this site is Certis' unabashed yet judicious use of his moderator role. At first I thought the community was just accidentally awesome but now it is clear that having a guardian who takes the idea of protecting the decancy and dignaty of the site and it's members is a hugely important part of the equation. Indeed, moderation is an important tool for keeping the GWJ community we know and love stable and sane.

Of course I have never been on the receiving end of that ban-hammer so I've never had reason to resent it.

AmazingZoidberg for President! This is Gold you get a +1 Pharacon comment rating score.

I don't think the internet is the only place where people are shedding their common decency. That 2 hour bus ride coming home from work last night was hell!

I wonder if the internet anonymity shamelessness is affecting the real world, vice versa or both?

edit: vile and venomous vernacular?

I'm pretty new to these forums (having stuck primarily to the front page so far), but tend to write long posts, so I hope I've not come across as loud or too brazen.. People are really cool here, so I'm just looking for some fun forums to stick around.

I've hung around many forums in the past 9 years or so, from quiet, nearly dead clan forums to bustling, nearly bursting out of control Final Fantasy forums and even Gaia for a while. Not sure how I managed that, looking back...
One of the things that seemed to me to at least give forums an orderly sense is that the mods/admins are respected by their community as such - the guy(s) (or girls) that keep order in a fair manner.

But on one particular forum, I have to admit that I've been part of a group that all but revolted against the moderators, because of some mean differences of opinion on how to be just on the forums.

The trouble mainly arose because the head moderators regularly posted links to various news articles and debated heavily along with 'the regular people'... including the more opinionated threads you probably won't find here because of the stricter moderation.
This IS a gaming site, after all. I've not been around very long, but it seems like there's enough to talk about as it is.
The problem was that it soon became apparant that some who were popular with the general audience, weren't too popular with the mods due to their rather vocal differences about... touchy subjects.
The mods in turn made some mistakes by joining in on it like when one, a mother, commented in a topic about abortion laws (don't start) : " *Runs out of the thread, covering her mouth* "
The result of that was a couple of snide remarks from the more vocal antagonists, who subsequently found themselves on the wrong end of a ban stick.
This caused a ruckus and a whole slew of flames and bans back and forth because the mods were seen as being unfair and covering for eachother.
Whether or not this was true is really not my place to say - I disagreed on one of the bans and got a temporary ban myself for flaming a moderator, which was even in my opinion a fair ban. What I didn't feel was right was how another guy got treated, because his rude behavior in the past put the mods on edge. In the end it's all like a useless soap opera, but hey, back then it seemed important enough to care about.

Long story short: it's been my experience that being very active in the community in terms of commenting on more sensitive topics ends up bad for especially the moderators. What do you guys think? Is there some sort of invisible line mods need to watch out for? Or is(should) a forum (be) more that strictly controlled domain of the people that run it?

At some point I think I'm going to have to write some kind of moderator's manifesto. Reading your post reminds me of some of the older communities I belonged to that imploded because the people in charge of maintaining order couldn't keep it in their pants. So to speak.

Elysium wrote:

I disagree. I think you'd be painfully surprised at the disparity between age and maturity. It's commonplace to assume that the problems are the young, but there a sizable amount of evidence that we're not talking about 16 year olds but 30 year olds.

30 year olds are youngsters. That is all.

You bring up a great point about the fine line of being a moderator. By and large I no longer participate in the Politics forum, because I realized that by doing so I was compromising my ability to be an objective moderator. Even moderators with the best intentions are still human and all too fallible.

If there is a key it has to do with consistency and people skills management. I think we've always been very resistant to opening up moderator status to anyone beyond Certis and I, even writers who've been with us for years don't really have moderation privileges. The more moderating voices you add, the more consistency you lose, the more you end up with the potential of us vs. them.

You can't avoid controversy in a community of any meaningful size. I think the real work is done when things are good, building a firm foundation so that when controversy shows up people have some good faith in the decisions we make.

I agree, Certis is "the watchman on the walls of [GWJ] freedom" - sorry for the paraphrase

Who watches the watchmen? Er, hahah....

Anywho, I think there's a mild confusion in this thread between democracy, tyranny, representative democracy, constitutional democracy, and so on. GWJ functions as a benevolent dictatorship because the barrier for entry and leaving is low.
Commenting at GWJ is our choice because we like the flavor of the dialogue here - part of what preserves that flavor is the 'secret sauce' that Certis and the rest of the gang mix up for us every week.
If something tragic happened - for example Gorgeous Rob were prevented from sound mixing and kibitzing - the community would have to adjust. At that point the nature of the dictatorship would come out - our glorious Co-Founders would pick a new sound guy, and life would go on - or would it? What if Gorgeous Rob started his own site?
My point is that our community would be completely different under a different set of rules. The rules are integral to the GWJ experience. In addition, this is a relatively small community. If it were much larger, Certis would have to give the ban hammer to a select group of moderators, and complexity would ensue.

What set of rules works for a larger community with fewer barriers to entry? I think the artificial barrier to entry that Something Awful sets up - the $10 tax on free speech - might point a viable path for the future. (I'm aware of the SA discussion earlier in this thread, don't know as much about SA as some of you so I'll keep it brief, but I still really enjoy the Let's Play and Play by Play threads.)
The idea is that, if your speech is limited by the money you have to spend, you value it more. People who can consistently be amusing, interesting, and so on don't have to pay as much, while people who are stupid have to resubscribe when they are banned and eventually are permabanned.

As time goes on, for various reasons, we'll be invested more in our internet personas and have more to lose from douschebaggery. Until that point, we're all just making it up as we go.

Pharacon wrote:

AmazingZoidberg for President! This is Gold you get a +1 Pharacon comment rating score.

Thanks. You've just worked your way into my heart, and my sig.

we're all just making it up as we go.

I think that's the essential spirit of forum moderation, even here on GWJ. The CoC originally stated "No introduction threads," but of course, not everyone reads the CoC after joining. I might go so far as to say folks blow it off, because it's usually the same sort of stuff you'd expect to find.

We had a rash of "Hi Everybody!" (/Dr. Nick) threads a while back, and each one was promptly slapped with a "Read the CoC" response from some veteran GWJ or another. Obviously, this wasn't very welcoming, and usually resulted in the person making an embarrassed apology. Thus, the CoC was changed to state that those threads should be avoided, but not prohibited, and that forum members were not to post "Read the CoC" in reply. A simple example that ultimately should be common sense, but something that was overlooked in favor of keeping the forums from getting clogged with useless threads that usually die quickly. A lot of things turn out different in practice than they do on paper.

Oh, and Zoidberg, sorry to tell you man... But those Pharacon points are worth less than the Zimbabwe dollar.

I, like many others here in the comments gallery, agreed strongly with this moving and insightful article. This article really resonated with me, and in the spirit of constructive and thoughtful discourse... Could I suggest honing the message of your article a bit? Something along the lines of:

A call to identify and silence the stupid, the annoying, the illerate masses

We are operating in a digital society where the masses feel they are entitled to express their opinion wherever they see fit, regardless of how stupid or illerate they may be. We are allowing speech from those that aren't completely fluent in the English language, those that may not know the difference between prefixes and suffixes, or those that may not know the differences between adjectives and nouns! The result is that the objectively elite speech that is constructive and enlightening is drowned out by the loud, angry, anonymous discourse of the stupid, illerate masses.

These hysterical and furious masses have crossed the line from being merely loud and annoying to being destructive - warping online journalism, dialog, and product both within and without the communities that they have insidiously infiltrated. These sick beasts have thrived in an environment of anonymity and access to the internet - and with a lack of repercussion for their speech, they threaten to bring chaos to society.

To be clear, I am not talking about the access to and use of the internet from people in China or other nations where such access may be restricted for the welfare of the society. I am talking about the unwashed masses of democratic societies, those countries where concepts like sedition have lost their true power.

Some have proposed a system for identifying these masses with personal internet identification numbers, and the means to track and moderate their activities on the internet. I believe this to be a noble endeavor - but there may be better means of controlling the masses. I believe the best means may be to restrict access to the internet to those that have passed a nationally administered English literacy and IQ test, and are above the age of 35.

Why do we continue to allow the brazen sense of entitlement to persist in the tiny minds of the masses that allows them to hold on to the illusion that it is perfectly fine for anyone with a feeble idea in their head to come on to OUR internet and spew their opinion that does not match the opinion of the informed, articulate, elite minority? For how much longer must we put up with the masses coming in to our house, with their dirty, grubby fingers pawing over OUR things?

Forums aside, in my small experience I've found the vast majority of comment sections on websites to be a hotbed of all the worst jibber-jabber the internet has to offer (GWJ being an obvious exception, and The Onion's AV Club is actually consistently funny when they can keep the trolls in the cave). If I ever need to a good laugh and/or to reinforce my lack of faith in humanity, I tend to browse the comments on the BBC News website. Imagine if every news story that you saw on TV was immediately followed by random outbursts from a milling crowd of hooting morons. Thankfully, TV isn't like that, and the joy of the internet is not having to read someone elses yammering. Moderation is a whole different matter of course - I don't envy anyone trying to keep control of the average forum.

KingMob wrote:

GWJ functions as a benevolent dictatorship

Funnily enough, when I played Nation States, that's what my country ended up being designated as. Finally, a system of government that I can get on board with

p.s. just to save Wordsmythe the effort (though I'm sure he loves it really), "meta" is a prefix, not a suffix...

This disdain of the unwashed masses scares me. I like GWJ because for it's intellectualism, it's the gentlemans debate club of the internet, at the same time however I also visit other places that are more like a combination between a rough bar and a mental institution. I find both equally entertaining albeit on different levels and I'm sure I'm not the only person who likes it low brow now and then.

Lucan wrote:

This disdain of the unwashed masses scares me. I like GWJ because for it's intellectualism, it's the gentlemans debate club of the internet, at the same time however I also visit other places that are more like a combination between a rough bar and a mental institution. I find both equally entertaining albeit on different levels and I'm sure I'm not the only person who likes it low brow now and then.

Yeah. Honestly, as much as I like safe zones where thoughtful commentary can flourish, I cringe at the idea of a future where all discourse has the safety on. Every once in a while you just want to wade into the roiling throng and start throwing haymakers.

I already said my piece on this a while ago, but I want to chime in that I agree with both Dennis and Certis.

The problem that doesn't ever seem to get discussed when this comes up is the real world ramifications. As much as we'd all like to think this whole thing is all just a big dream we all whipped up between us while hiding a Spiderman comic inside our 7th grade history book and nothing we say or do matters, it has unfortunately become real. When you cross the streams between your online behavior and what happens in the corporeal world, it has the previously documented results (if you consider Ghostbusters a documentary).

There is a larger picture here. There are forums out there that aren't focused on games or geeking. They're facing the same group dynamics problems. Large systems like Slate's Fray have been around for a long time, and the results of their various experiments in access and organization are a pretty good primer for what happens.

-- User age doesn't solve anything. Slate's demographics skew much older than GWJ, and they have many of the same issues with trolls. A 50 year old troll is just as nasty as a fifteen year old troll. And there are at least as many of them out there, I submit.

-- Age of forum doesn't solve anything. Slate's been around for something like 12 years and when SGTROCK is off his meds I assure you he's glad to tell you all about it.

-- Paying to get in doesn't really solve anything. Slate did a stint like that several years ago and it didn't last very long. It doesn't stop a real self-righteous adult troll; they believe they're right against all evidence to the contrary and will have no problem paying to tell you. It also kills the forum by cutting out the moderate voices. Unless they're that kind of pissed off or have some sort of cause, most people will not invest the energy or the money. The few who will pay just on general principles won't stick around in a place with tumbleweeds rolling through it. Then regulars who are left introspectively navel-gaze themselves into a tightly knit clique which then whirls into a black hole with the subscription system as the event horizon. New people just bounce right off it and the whole place implodes.

The suggestions above for things like community moderation and inter-community moderation have been tried. If you think gamers are argumentative, try politics. Without balancing factors those systems turn into a digital version of Salem with a dash of Animal Farm, writ large. It takes less time to boil and egg for it to turn ugly. To balance Slashdot, take DailyKos as an example. It has a similar rating system for it's posts where the community itself marks up the posts or tags them as spam/trolls. If you spend any time on there and don't agree with the prevailing opinion, watch what happens. They're not alone; just google "Banned DailyKos" and read down the list. Hounding people out of there and across the internet is sort of a national sport over there. I'm banned from there myself due to a witchhunt someone over there started with someone I posted to over on Slate over two years ago and they went after him and everyone he'd ever talked to.

Whether or not moderated forum content is "free speech" or not is an important question, but it is the tiny tip of a large, dirty iceberg. People in the real world are making decisions about what we can and cannot do in both the digital and corporeal worlds. And they're using that bile-soaked ranting, other people's ill-informed mouthings, and their own ignorance to do it with. Mr. Intertubes is still in the Senate, and he's helping make the laws that will govern online privacy, intellectual property rights, internet parity, and all sorts of fundamental aspects of the 'Net that have both digital and corporeal effects. And the state of New York just passed a law to legally require several things that are already in place and have been for at least five years due in part to this sort of ignorance and fear-mongering.

The "grow a thicker skin" crowd is missing the real problem. People are being hurt in the real world by these digital actions. And I'm not just talking hurt feelings. That little girl who killed herself after being hounded by an adult, or that girl who got beat up and they showed it on Youtube, and some of the flack on SecondLife are just a few examples of how these two arenas are getting intertwined.

When I wrote my article about cleaning up the online experience I not only had some interesting digital effects, it hit me in the real world. People tracked me down in real life. Some told me they agreed, others did it to tell me what a rhymes-with-witch I was. Kids at my daughter's school rounded on them for it. Luckily I didn't end up in Kathy Sierra's shoes but it did hit me professionally. A person I know in a technical user group sent the article to my boss to try to get me in trouble. My boss thought it was funny as heck and took me out to coffee to celebrate our mutual status as having pissed off a large bunch of jerks. He has his own problems with this; he made a movie about gays in the military and he got and still gets quite a bit of flack from the holy rollers about it.

The "any controls kill free speech" crowd has a very self-centered viewpoint. While you have rights to say things, I also have rights to not be hurt. To coin a phrase from Justice Olliver Wendell Holmes, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Any right you have to be an ass does not trump my right to be here and not be attacked. I pay the same prices to get on the Internet, and we both agreed to the same terms of service on our ISP/network. Often the forum/environment itself has rules that prohibit this sort of behavior that are posted and you agreed to them when you joined.

As far as the "don't go where there be dragons" crowd, I guess it could be a working philosophy if the trolls/jerks/etc did their part and stayed where that sort of behavior was acceptable. If you want to break Wheaton's Law and it's cited in the TOS as being something you agreed to follow, then YOU go someplace else to be a dick and I'll stay out.

The internet is a human experience. Invented, built, and populated with human beings. In many places we've lost sight of that, and our behavior towards one another shows it. The problem is way too large a scale to expect the system to enforce. I don't have an easy answer, but I believe it's important that each person starts taking a long hard look at what's going on and work on their own little corner. I can't make you do anything, but you can choose how you behave. If enough of us do that, then maybe GWJ wouldn't be quite as much of a lone oasis.

The real question is:

If we wouldn't let our kids run around a baseball stadium, wholly unsupervised, shouting obscenities, stealing nachos and hot dogs, drawing graffiti and hurling rocks at the capacity crowd, why do we let them do far worse to a potentially larger crowd on the internet?

And I should clarify that, as its not just kids. We wouldn't let our parents or friends do it either would we?

Oh I also will add that almost all of the community monitored forums are horribly cliquish and largely ignore newcomers whether they are constructive or not.

Sorry, I'm still not on the bandwagon. I have yet to *not* be able to find a community for my interests that is informative and mature (in most cases). Examples:

Gaming:
Cheap Ass Gamer, GWJ, and Evil Avatar

Table Top Gaming (i.e. Games Workshop stuff):
Librarium Online

Audio/Video Stuff:
Soundandvisionmag.com, AVS forums

Cars:
SLK forums, forgot name of Subaru forums - NASOC?

Just a few examples, but just like games, it's easy to remember what sucks vs. what works. I've rarely ever failed to find a good site on my first try, but then again, I usually go to sites based on referrals. But even the ones found via google are generally good. How do you wind up in sites like neogaf anyway? I never heard of it until Dyack.

The problem isn't that the internet gives idiots a voice, it's that the internet gives the idiots legitimacy. Once you learn not to believe everything you read, you get over that...

Mahni wrote:

...regardless of how stupid or illerate they may be. We are allowing speech from those that aren't completely fluent in the English language, those that may not know the difference between prefixes and suffixes, or those that may not know the differences between adjectives and nouns! The result is that the objectively elite speech that is constructive and enlightening is drowned out by the loud, angry, anonymous discourse of the stupid, illerate masses.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you McKean's Law in action.

Hey Mahni, let me correct that for you

<SARCASM>

Mahni wrote:

I, like many others here in the comments gallery, agreed strongly with this moving and insightful article. This article really resonated with me, and in the spirit of constructive and thoughtful discourse... Could I suggest honing the message of your article a bit? Something along the lines of:

A call to identify and silence the stupid, the annoying, the illerate masses

We are operating in a digital society where the masses feel they are entitled to express their opinion wherever they see fit, regardless of how stupid or illerate they may be. We are allowing speech from those that aren't completely fluent in the English language, those that may not know the difference between prefixes and suffixes, or those that may not know the differences between adjectives and nouns! The result is that the objectively elite speech that is constructive and enlightening is drowned out by the loud, angry, anonymous discourse of the stupid, illerate masses.

These hysterical and furious masses have crossed the line from being merely loud and annoying to being destructive - warping online journalism, dialog, and product both within and without the communities that they have insidiously infiltrated. These sick beasts have thrived in an environment of anonymity and access to the internet - and with a lack of repercussion for their speech, they threaten to bring chaos to society.

To be clear, I am not talking about the access to and use of the internet from people in China or other nations where such access may be restricted for the welfare of the society. I am talking about the unwashed masses of democratic societies, those countries where concepts like sedition have lost their true power.

Some have proposed a system for identifying these masses with personal internet identification numbers, and the means to track and moderate their activities on the internet. I believe this to be a noble endeavor - but there may be better means of controlling the masses. I believe the best means may be to restrict access to the internet to those that have passed a nationally administered English literacy and IQ test, and are above the age of 35.

Why do we continue to allow the brazen sense of entitlement to persist in the tiny minds of the masses that allows them to hold on to the illusion that it is perfectly fine for anyone with a feeble idea in their head to come on to OUR internet and spew their opinion that does not match the opinion of the informed, articulate, elite minority? For how much longer must we put up with the masses coming in to our house, with their dirty, grubby fingers pawing over OUR things?

</SARCASM>

Great article, and I feel I should say a lot of the comments here prove GWJ is very much the exception to the rule.

Actually, I was just thinking about this after reading some pretty immature attacks that were posted at CNN Politics...

It really seems to me that the only place you get any love is on your own site. Whenever I see an article you wrote over at the escapist or something you tend to get hated on, or you do recently.

But, great article. One thing that I think Joystiq did that I think helped was fading the comments that got down-voted, and making the ones that got up-voted more visible. I basically just skim through the comments looking for the up-voted comments. I don't think you guys need anything like that here though, you guys just don't seem to have any idiots here.

Elysium wrote:

I disagree. I think you'd be painfully surprised at the disparity between age and maturity. It's commonplace to assume that the problems are the young, but there a sizable amount of evidence that we're not talking about 16 year olds but 30 year olds.

To that I will point out that I'm only 15, and I try not to be a dick just because I'm on the internet. I hope I'm succeeding at that. But when I went to my friends house and played some Halo, I was somewhat annoyed when he started calling everyone in the lobby gay as soon as he got in. It's interesting how much people change just because they're on the internet, because I'm certain that if any of you met us face to face you would think I was the dick, and him one of the nicest people you've met.

momgamer wrote:

a lot of good stuff

Thanks for the thoughts. It was like a nice bonus, two front page articles in one day. I think the most important thing you touched upon is the very real connection that our lovely interwebs have with the "real" world. And I agree, there is no easy answer, if there was we would have solved it by now.

nsmike wrote:

Oh, and Zoidberg, sorry to tell you man... But those Pharacon points are worth less than the Zimbabwe dollar.

It's a good thing I'm not going to spend it. I'm going to keep it, and cherish it, and perhaps lovingly caress it on occasion.

Fronsac wrote:

Hey Mahni, let me correct that for you

<SARCASM>

...snip!

</SARCASM>

The thought that anyone would not see my comment as satire (or sarcasm, close enough) saddens me.