Started conversation Dec 16, 2006
I sometimes despair of posters on various messageboards who reveal their personal deatails and circumstances.
I do not want to know who has a flu, or has just been promoted or had a baby or broken their leg unless it is relevant to the discussion.
Cosy details like this not only create a false clubbiness within a forum, but also acts to disable impartiality and objectivity when responding to a post.
I want to be able to exploit the objectivity of the medium as much as possible, not be weighed down with sympathy (or unneccessary hostility) because of personal details volunteered by posters who I might need to disagree with in five minutes. Any personality should emerge from the words on the screen.
A messageboard is not a pub, or meeting, or dinner party. It does not obey the same rules of etiquette, if any, and is not subject to the same social constraints and inhibitions. There are pubs where certain discussions would risk life and limb. The internet has abolished that level of thuggery from debate in the same way that the placement of the two fron benches in the House Of Commons liberates debate from intimidation.
To use it as if one were in face to face contact is to totally misunderstand the medium. And to fully exploit it, at least in free-flowing, uninhibited exchanges of opinion, and to keep discussions free and lively and free of false alliances based on cyber-sympathy, anonymity and featurelessness are essential.
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