Monday, January 26, 2009

No Virtue in Politeness

Found on Pharyngula:
I want my commenters to be uncivil. There is no virtue in politeness when confronted with ignorance, dishonesty, and delusion. I want them to charge in to the heart of the issue and shred the frauds, without hesitation and without faltering over manners. These demands for a false front of civility are one of the strategies used by charlatans who want to mask their lack of substance — oh, yes, it would be so goddamned rude to point out that a huckster is lying to you. I am quite happy that we have a culture of being rude to frauds here.

That was PZ Myers commenting earlier this month on the treatment given to certain people posting comments on his blog Pharyngula. He is right too. We know it is all too easy to be rude on the internet, because there are no consequences for bad behavior. Likewise there are no consequences for dishonesty and ignorance. However, there is credibility on the internet. Communities of readers build up knowledge and trust in each other. It's easy to be false on the internet, but building up credibility require time and consistency. It's not perfect, people can be fooled, but that is nothing new. Credibility is the virtue of the internet.