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The Freedom to be Civil

This whole business of how we treat each other online has been on my mind a lot lately. I know you've heard all the same excuses and justifications as I have for treating other people shabbily: defending sacred free speech rights, can't you take a joke, stupid people deserve to be treated like idiots, if you can't take the heat get out, it's just colorful language lighten up already, oo here come the politically correct police, Linus calls people braindead and everyone thinks he's cute and funny, and so forth.

Maybe I'm getting mushy in my old age, but I think it's wrong and destructive. I'm glad that Ubuntu makes their code of conduct a priority, and actually enforces it. Sure, there are bumpy spots, but overall they're successful at establishing an atmosphere that supports courtesy and discourages rotten behavior, without needing jackbooted forum cops on duty all the time.

Why bother with courtesy? Because it shows respect for other people. Because it shows you're a mature, thinking person who is capable of understanding consequences, and who understands the difference between undisciplined spewing and communicating. Probably the most famous example is how to say RTFM in a constructive way:

"RTFM, luser."

Obviously that is not constructive. But this is:

"You'll find the answer in the manual at http://foourl.com."

Full Article.



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