Saturday, November 21, 2009

A few simple rules...

This issue of cyber-bullying hasn't left my psyche just yet. I am still annoyed that there aren't better systems in place to protect young people and other vulnerable groups from abusive language on the internet. Today I was on a website and noticed that the comments section wasn't visible. Next to a label for "user comments" it said, "please read the rules before writing". The rules are simple: 1) no abusive language, 2) no posting links, 3) no double posting, 4) comments should be relevant to the link, 5) please do not post issues here, instead use the Forums, 6) comments may be removed by staff at any time/reason without warning or notification. Then you click "okay" and you can go ahead and comment without signing in, or registering, or doing anything too complicated.

So, how useful is this simple tool? Hard to say. But I can't help but feel that something as easy as a reminder to be civil and keep it on point might be enough to dissuade some of the more vile comments on sites like You Tube and Major Fail. And, I like the format; it's not a "terms and conditions" boiler plate deal where you scroll through minutes of text before getting to the button at the bottom. It's a small box with only six easy to read rules. If nothing else, it is a good start, and I was glad to see that at least this website was taking the initiative to try to curb abusive language, even though I'm sure they know section 230 will protect them from liability regardless of how well they monitor their site.

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