Process Post #11: Developing Community Guidelines for My Website

Over the last few days, I have taken some time to consider and develop community guidelines for my website in order to try to further facilitate an open and respectful online space for myself and my audience/readers. At the end of this post, you will be able to find more information on what my community guidelines are and where they will live on this website.

Monitoring the Comments Section

In her article on “The Psychology of Online Comments” by Maria Konnnikova, she cited that “anonymity has been shown to encourage participation; by promoting a greater sense of community identity, users don’t have to worry about standing out individually,” (Konnikova, 2013). However, user anonymity can often create a disconnect between the commenter’s identity and what they are saying. By doing so, this may also change their social behaviour either for better or worse. This effect is known as “online disinhibition effect,” a concept originally coined by psychologist John Suler. In this course, we read an article by John Suler (2004) where he outlined six types of online behaviours that people engage in. It was most often seen that online users prefer partaking in the online behaviour known as dissociative anonymity (Suler, 2004; Konnikova, 2013). Both Suler and Konnikova draw from how the “protection” and or “freedom” of not being seen or known online for which enables them the opportunity to behave in specific ways that they would not normally engage in if they were face-to-face. There are two types of disinhibition effect: 

  1. benign (positive or neutral – e.g., feeling safe or open enough to reveal secret emotions, fears, wishes, wants, and or other personal information about themselves)
  2. toxic (negative – e.g., rude language, harsh criticism, anger, hatred, or threats)   

When it comes to commenting online, there appears to be an increase in negativing and or toxic commenting on social media and website post sections. However, turning off or removing comments also affects the reading experience itself because it takes away the motivation for readers to engage with a topic more deeply, and thereby, share it with wider groups of readers (Konnikovca, 2013). This is because of a phenomenon known as “shared reality,” in which our experiences of a particular event/topic are affected by whether or not we choose to share it socially (Konnikova, 2013). 

One of the ways that content creators (or anyone) can try to overcome this is by creating boundaries, or by establishing community guidelines. Community guidelines are a set of rules and regulation policies created to ensure a certain standard of behaviour is implemented online for the purpose of creating safe online environments for users to interact within. People do have the right to free speech, but it is important to be civil even when others disagree so long as there is no harm to others in any form is involved, such as threats, hate speech, inciting violence, misinformation, and disinformation. I have chosen to keep comment sections on my posts so that readers can interact either with each other and respond to the posts, if they so wish. Community is about finding your own place within a collective world or group of people where mutual interests can be shared. There are already enough terrible things in this world without having people trying to virtually tear each other down in the comments section or on any online space. We have very little control over many aspects of our lives and the events that place within in, but what you can control is how you behave and react. 

Here are my website’s community guidelines: 

  • Be respectful of others and their opinions
  • Respectfully disagree when opinions do not align 
  • Comments are welcomed and encouraged
  • Inappropriate behaviour will be removed and blocked
  • No self promotion of any kind

As of this moment, these guidelines can be found on my website under the “About” section titled “Community Guidelines.” 

References

Internet Matters. (2022). Understanding community guidelines. Internetmatters.org. Retrieved from www.internetmatters.org

Konnikova, M. (2013). The psychology of online comments. The New Yorker. Retrieved from posiel.com

Suler, J. (2004). The online disinhibition effect. Cyberpsychology & Behaviour. Retrieved from posiel.com 

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