Pundits who lament the end of civility in society often reference the poor conduct that takes place on various public internet forums. In fact, this loss of civility is especially problematic on such forums precisely because the users are allowed anonymity.
When I launched the Rodbuilding.org website (www.rodbuilding.org) in early 2002, I created a different type of public forum than the norm. One of the rules I instituted was that users would be required to use their actual first and last names. Of course, I got quite a bit of flak for this requirement, but I figured that anyone that wasnâ€™t willing to put their actual name on any comment they made is likely up to some sort of no good to begin with. Itâ€™s been that particular requirement, in fact, that has made Rodbuilding.org such a nice place to participate and surely one of the reasons that itâ€™s been so terribly successful.
Although public forums will always be haunted by a few out to cause trouble, the fact is that 99% of those who use them are good, honest, decent people. In the 9 years that RBO has been online, there have been just over 7000 registered users and only a very few have been problematic. The stories about how I ban anyone that disagrees with me lacks merit. Consider that out of those 7000 users, only 16 have ever been banned, and 14 of those have been subsequently banned from other rod building forums as well.Â Thatâ€™s pretty strong evidence that these particular folks simply do not play well with others, anywhere.
Most important in my eyes, is that we maintain a place where rod builders can participate without fear of being insulted or ridiculed. This not only ensures an active and helpful forum, but fosters an atmosphere where the rod building industry, the companies that make and sell the stuff we use, feel good about participating as well.