Cyber-harassment or bullying — harmful or disruptive online behavior, including posting false rumors, threats (including reasonably perceived), offensive remarks, disclosing a victim’s personal information or personal attacks upon them, and pejorative labels or names (i.e. hate speech). This can also include internet trolling: harassing in order to elicit a reaction, disruption, or for their own personal amusement. Cyber-stalking can also be considered harassment.
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I often said to myself over the years that I probably would never have the need to implement, moderate, or enforce blog-etiquette or curb cyber-harassment on my public blog, despite writing openly on unconventional, taboo and controversial topics. I assumed that mature adults would simply move on if they found my subjects unappealing, or offensive to themselves. Moving along is easy to do and their choice not to stay or return. My “explicit” material is Password Protected, offered to curious readers only if personally requesting those passwords via my Contact page. However, with some internet users that is not always the case. After 8+ years of blogging, the reach of the world wide web, and WordPress’ exceptional networking initiatives between bloggers, I think it has now become necessary. Is that a good thing, bad thing, or simply cyber-users following the rising trend of online and social-media bullying-harassment? You decide.
Nonetheless, beginning Oct. 2nd, 2017, for my Commenters and Followers, hereafter are my expected Rules of Conduct:
- Be respectful to others. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then don’t say it online either. While it seems easier to say something hurtful or disrespectful without standing in front of them, remember that many online bloggers are real people with real feelings affected by words. Not everyone has impervious skin.
- Be aware of strong language composition, all CAPS, and exclamation points. Read everything you’ve typed out loud before clicking. Written text can easily be misunderstood or misread. Be cognizant of multiple interpretations of words and sentence structure. Identify potential confusions before clicking.
- Be careful and wise with your humor and sarcasm. There’s no need to avoid being funny/humerous; the world certainly needs lots of laughter! That said, make double sure you are being interpreted as being funny, not rude. Emoticons and smileys are helpful when conveying sarcasm or humor. If you do not use emoticons, then type in parentheses your intended sarcasm/humor.
- Yes, grammar and spelling matter. This would appear self-explanatory, however, poor grammar or spelling quickly leads to a minefield of problems and confusion. Articulating yourself is paramount when discussing serious topics; try your best to use correct grammar and spelling during those times.
- Cite your sources when requested. Please specify when offering your personal opinion versus a specific source(s). If someone requests clarification on source(s), please provide this within a reasonable amount of time. Cumulative consensus on a subject, idea, claim, or concept carries much more weight and truth than incessant PERSONAL opinions.
- Show attempts of patience and leniency. Not everyone is perfect 100% of the time. We all forget or neglect some common courtesies sometimes. When dealing with total cyber-strangers, make some effort toward patience and leniency. I like the 3-strike rule: by the second infraction, a very concise, explicit warning SHOULD deter further inappropriate or disrespectful behavior. For imperfect humans, online conversations are much more tricky than face-to-face.
- Show attempts of two-way engagement. In other words, sometimes or often ask others questions. Do not simply and repeatedly publicize your own personal beliefs, opinions, or rhetoric — utilize your own blog for those views — while ignoring other’s participation or engagement with you. Show your willingness to exchange ideas and consider alternatives; doing so does NOT mean you embrace them hook, line, and sinker. It is however, a show of respect.
- Three Strikes, Into Time-Out. Not following these rules of conduct after two clear warnings from myself, warrants you being put into Comment-Moderation for review first until further notice or comment-approval, or you genuinely apologize (in a comment(s)) and demonstrate improved conduct.
For today, I think these are the simple 8-rules. I may find in the future a need to refine or (slightly?) modify them, but this will be the essense of expected conduct. I appreciate all efforts to respect them and others. Thank you.