Way back in the late 1980s we were running a very early version of social media at the Open University. One Friday night, I was alerted to an abusive conversation going on about how much debate it would take to hang all the homosexuals in Britain. I shut down the debate immediately. I suspended the officer from all university computing (ergo, he would use lose his job), went to his 21st birthday party and floored him in my office first thing Monday morning. It is rumoured that everyone stopped work in the corridor as I made the man (young and foolish) justify his case to to get back online.
Minutes later, I published a code of conduct for use of the university’s computer. That allowed students and staff to use our state-of-the-art computer system for work and social media purposes (it wasn’t called social media in those days but computer conferencing). But my absolute rule was there should be no abuse. I like to believe this was the first social media policy for universities in the country. I am proud of it.
You could have fun. Be naughty (after all the Open University was a networked university where many people were studying at home in a spare bedroom after the kids have gone to sleep). But the absolute values of the university of equality and fairness, which weren’t as common in society in those days, must predominate.
Today, after a succession of comments where people have strayed across the line of being civil and constructive, I am implementing a tighter commenting policy on my blog.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the comments. I love the debates. But I want civilised debate.
I have published more than 1,000 articles on the andybodders.co.uk blog. It gets just short of 100,000 views a year. I want to encourage more comments. But I will not allow comments that poison the atmosphere.
Here is the refreshed comments policy.
The rules for commenting on this blog are simple. No abuse of anyone. You might wish to criticise someone’s viewpoint but don’t make it personal. Address the issue of the article and put the counterpoint argument forward.
Debates can get heated. I welcome an exchange of views. But if people start arguing between each other and make it personal, I will delete the comments or prevent comments altogether on an article.
Our life is complicated enough without being uncivil.