Manners maketh man (and commenters)

NYT technology columnist David Pogue had a good post today: Whatever Happened to Online Etiquette? Admittedly the subject matter has been done to death, but I still liked his column.

Lately, an increasing number of the discussions devolve into name-calling and bickering. Someone might submit, say, this item to Digg:

685 diggs. “AWESOME astronomy poem.” (posted by MetsFan 3 days ago)

Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are.

Before long, the people’s feedback begins, like this:

by baddude on 12/11/06

What’s yr problem, moron. You already said it’s a star, why would you then wonder what it is. Get a clue, or a life.

by neverland2 on 12/11/06

Dugg down as inaccurate. Stars do not twinkle. It’s the shifting atmosphere that causes an apparent twinkle. Or were you stoned all through science class?

by mrobe on 12/11/06

yo neverland2–It’s a poem, idiot. Nobody’s claiming that stars twinkle. Ever heard of poetic license?

Honestly, the intellectual level of you people is right up there with a gnat’s.

…and so on.

That scenario seems, for the most part, dead-on balls accurate of what I see every day online. He offers up some ideas for the reasons why but even so, I just don’t get it. I rarely (but not never) see it on personal journals, it’s mostly on shared boards, especially for games and tech sites. Is it ego? Is it just someone stirring people up to have a laugh?

Like the Tootsie-Roll Pop, the world may never know…

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