Andrea Rondeau column: A little online etiquette

I don’t want to have to ban you. So don’t make me.

I don’t want to have to ban you. So don’t make me.

It’s time for another little chat about online etiquette, since I had to spend so much time this week deleting inappropriate comments from both our website and Facebook page. And that’s after the regular automatic filters did their usual thing.

We’re pretty lenient about what we allow people to say on our sites. We want people to be able to voice their opinions, even controversial opinions. We want people to be able to argue amongst themselves. We do insist that they do it at least somewhat respectfully (ever noticed how harsh things tend to sound online if you’re not careful? Tone can be difficult to convey without cues like facial expression, body language, and voice pitch. It’s something to keep in mind when you post).

We don’t necessarily agree with or endorse any of the comments and opinions people post to our site, or send us letters to the editor about. That’s part of free speech. We give you a specific space to have your say. We have another space to have ours.

But there are limits, and a lot of people blasted way past them this week. Rarely do I ban anyone, even if I delete a particular comment. I had to this week. Repeated inappropriate comments will force me to do so. Not only is it a waste of my time to have to weed through and delete your inappropriate vitriol, it also pollutes whatever conversation is going on. It tends to drag the discussion off-track, usually into an ugly place that it doesn’t need to go.

Here are a couple of really simple rules. If you violate them, you will at the very least have your post deleted:

1. Do not post racist comments

2. Do not post comments adovcating or inciting violence

3. Do not use expletives (our automatic filter will get rid of your comment before we even see it). Be a little creative. I know you can find another way to say it if you try.

I would have thought these would be self-evident, but apparently not.

Our online communities are what we make them. They can be an ugly sewer to slog through, or a place to think about the opinions of others, and share your own in a respectful manner. I want our sites to be the second. It doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun, or be controversial. But there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. Think about that before you post. If you’re so angry steam is coming out of your ears, maybe leave it for a little while, and come back later to decide whether you really want to post your comments or not. Don’t be in the position of regretting your post. And don’t make me regret your post, either, when I have to get rid of it.



editor@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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