Always Going to be Assholes in the World

In reviewing Insytes with some close associates, one of their chief concerns was that people would ‘game’ the system – to somehow infiltrate it with SpamBots and or other nefarious means. This I believe will not be much of a problem, but it is, as they say, it is certainly an arms race in which we must engage.

The bigger problem, as several friends recognized, is what to do with people who refuse to be responsible community members? What to do with the people who feel like attacking someone personally rather than earnestly discussing the thoughts and contributions on their merits? What to do with people who disregard the community focus and generally accepted standards?

Well, as my experience participating in the AlwaysOn Innovation Summit’s backchannel chat last night proves once again, there are always going to be assholes in the world. People who would rather show off, insult others randomly and/or just behave garrishly take particular interest in open discussions where they can retain their anonymity and get attention for such behaviour. Since they personally don’t feel responsible for what the anonymous persona says, their inhibitions dont exist and many are even induced by the opportunity to incite angry responses in others.

What this really means is that we just need to deal with assholes by creating community standards that dont tolerate such behaviour, and more importantly, in certain community settings, we unfortunately must do away with anonymous contributions. The challenge is to do so without restricting personal liberties and privacy. To me, it would seem that even with the right community standards in place, even in a system where such behaviour is not tolerated, people will still behave badly. For some people, it is just in their nature…

To be more specific about the inspiration for the post – while participating in the online chat component of the conference last night, I found that msot people did not want to talk about anything of importance related to the discussion. Perhaps 3-5 other users out of some 700 in the auditorium were trying to contribute to the conversation. Another dozen or so were just throwing insults and bravado to get their names up on the screen at the conference. Most people just lurked. Even Jason Calcanis who was on the chat early, ended up lurking for the remainder of the chat (or perhaps he just took off early since the topic matter was askew).

Regardless, I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter – will there always be assholes in online communities? how to deal with them? how to differentiate between those wo simply dont know how to argue versus those with negative intentions?

  1. #1 by bruce fryer - July 20th, 2005 at 09:08


    this morning was a little better. there are always hecklers in any crowd. just ignore them, or the moderator can lock them out.


  2. #2 by Chris Heuer - July 20th, 2005 at 12:31

    Very true – this morning was exceptionally on point – enough that the other folks were not able to get in – was very impressed with the content coming from the morning session – that is what we have come to expect from Tony et al….

  3. #3 by Lisa - July 21st, 2005 at 15:06

    I was only able to on for one session this morning which wasn’t bad but did stray in and out. I would find myself losing track as I listened. Of course the other issues become what happens when someone pretends to be Mark Cuban.

    What you are discussing is why these things may have to be private eventually – or at least be broken into different rooms. I would pay a premuim to be in with others that were prequalified – wouldn’t you? In some ways I hate the thought but am reminded of why I gave up on chat so long ago. BTW – now you know why I hesitated to announce who I was!

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