Have you sometimes wondered what I sound like? You can hear me conversing with Kylie Sturgess on the Token Skeptic podcast: Episode Eighty-Eight – On Codes Of Conduct Part II – Sexism, Skepticism And Civility Online. No transcript available yet, sadly.
She also interviews Jennifer Ouellette and Karen Miller. I’m named as Viv Smythe rather than as tigtog.
Those who’ve been reading here for a while know that I and other Hoydens have done quite a bit of writing over the years about those who engage in deliberate disruption of discourse versus the concept of “Civility” online and the myths and malpractice thereof (especially (i) the misrepresentation of so-called rights of ‘free speech’ on another person’s private corner of cyberspace and (ii) tone-trolling aka faux-civility couch-fainting as a silencing tactic) – you’ll see a list of posts in a box below the post titled ‘Articles In This Series’. My notion of civility, btw, does not include impeccably politely-phrased passive-aggressive rhetorical bullshit, which I see way too much of from folks who describe themselves as “civil”.
One in particular of the points covered in the podcast I want to emphasise here, too: while I know that the more open recent conversation about online abuse and cyberbullying is an extremely important one to be having (because not talking about it just gives the bullies what they want – our silence, and thus they isolate us from mutually supporting each other) I do also think that generally, in online forums, the situation is improving. There are more and more forums out there where women are not treated as strange alien invaders or exotic trophies but as just another contributor, and I’m so glad about it.
The gripping hand is that it is exactly this more women-inclusive mainstream which is generating harder pushback from the subset of flagrantly sexist troglodytes, even though I do believe that they are slowly decreasing in number. However, I don’t have hard stats to support that impression, and I’m not sure exactly how one would collect them, so if anybody does have any hard numbers I’d love to see them.
Of course (you know me) I mentioned the crucial necessity of publishing a comments policy with clear guidelines about the boundaries of acceptable content for publication, and sticking to it consistently (even when at times it’s one’s own regular commentors who are the ones being overly combative).
Another point covered that I’d like to highlight is the importance of finding a supportive community online, with whom to consult/rant/vent/act-up/chill-out about the behind-the-scenes stuff. There have been a few people lately sending around invitations to support groups for bloggers etc that they’ve just decided to create – I wish them luck, but I think that orgs created ex nihilo might not be the best approach? It’s probably easier to find smaller groups of folks online who share several of your special interests and create communities where folks can support each other? Or maybe bigger and more general single purpose support groups have their place amongst a range of possible responses to the challenges of coping with submitted content from which we want to protect our readers (and ourselves), even if those groups migt not especially appeal to me.
What do you think?