That shy, blushing, shrinking-violet Anil Dash writes:
If your website's full of assholes, it's your fault: We're twenty years in to this world wide web thing…. [T]hose of us who love this… are constantly charged with defending this wonderful, expressive medium in a way that creators in every other discipline seldom find themselves obligated to do…. We can post a harmless video of a child's birthday party and be treated to profoundly racist non-sequiturs in the comments. We can read about a minor local traffic accident on a newspaper's website and see vicious personal attacks on the parties involved. A popular blog can write about harmless topics like real estate, restaurants or sports and see dozens of vitriolic, hate-filled spewings within just a few hours….
[W]e have a way to prevent gangs of humans from acting like savage packs of animals. In fact, we've developed entire disciplines based around this goal over thousands of years… urban planning, zoning regulations, crowd control, effective and humane policing, and the simple practices it takes to stage an effective public event, we can come up with a set of principles to prevent the overwhelming majority of the worst behaviors on the Internet.
If you run a website, you need to follow these steps. if you don't, you're making the web, and the world, a worse place. And it's your fault. Put another way, take some goddamn responsibility for what you unleash on the world.
How many times have you seen a website say "We're not responsible for the content of our comments"?… Well, let me tell you about your moral obligation: Hell yes, you are responsible. You absolutely are. When people are saying ruinously cruel things about each other, and you're the person who made it possible, it's 100% your fault…. You should have real humans dedicated to monitoring and responding to your community… moderators who have the power to delete comments and ban users… answer questions and guide conversations for people who are unsure of appropriate behavior…. MetaFilter and Stack Exchange… get good results…. You need lots of these moderators. The sites with the best communities have a really low ratio of community members to moderators.
You should have community policies about what is and isn't acceptable….
Your site should have accountable identities….
You should have the technology to easily identify and stop bad behaviors… a way for people to flag behavior that violates guidelines, and a simple set of tools for allowing moderators to respond….
Every single person who's going to object to these ideas is going to talk about how they can't afford to hire a community manager, or how it's so expensive to develop good tools for managing comments. Okay, then save money by turning off your web server. Or enjoy your city where you presumably don't want to pay for police because they're so expensive….
[O]dds are I've been doing this blogging thing longer than you, so let me tell you what I've learned: When you engage with a community online in a constructive way, it can be one of the most meaningful experiences of your life. It doesn't have to be polite, or neat and tidy, or full of everyone agreeing with each other. It just has to not be hateful and destructive….
[I]f your website is full of assholes, it's your fault. And if you have the power to fix it and don't do something about it, you're one of them.