Social Software, Antisocial Behaviour

A bit sorry to see social computing guru Euan Semple storming off (well, wandering off) in a bit of a virtual huff from the ACT-KM community. His posts are always sharp, interesting and insightful.

Euan doesn’t like being moderated, and he doesn’t like having to snip posts (containing the preceding conversation). He sent a one-liner to the list recently and it was bounced back by the moderator, because it was too long – ie contained previous messages.

Now ACT-KM is practising this very deliberately and for well-discussed (on the list and at its conferences) reasons: moderation has become more important to the list as it has got bigger, and started attracting trolls – people who want attention and money, lock onto self-serving topics, rant, get aggressive, promote themselves with what we’ve come to call spamouflage, drown out more serious discussion.

Snipping was openly discussed on the list recently as an aspect of netiquette, because a large number of members get their postings in the form of daily digests – that means whenever anyone doesn’t snip, they get the same stream of messages duplicated umpteen times every time somebody doesn’t snip. It’s hard for them to distinguish new posts from endlessly repeated old ones.

Now here’s the rub for me: neither netiquette nor moderation are what the ideologues are bound to shape it up to be… command and control, restrictive, bureaucratic, old-economy blah-di-blah you know the rest. They are social mechanisms, in this case, socially negotiated, openly discussed (and open to further discussion), in order to preserve a genuine conversation space for genuine people. The social thing to do, in Euan’s case, would be to present his point of view back to the community to which he belongs and say “look, this is really annoying me, is there any way we can look at this again?”. That he simply leaves and blogs about it seems to be the less social behaviour.

Now if Euan had said, “I find ACT-KM boring and I can’t be bothered any more” I could understand it, and there’s a bit of a hint of this in his post. But to suggest it’s a social issue means you have to play by social rules. (Thanks Maish for the reference).

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