Thursday, January 22, 2009

On courtesy

After my tongue-in-cheek suggestion for a CFA amongst the Kottu bloggers, I wondered if perhaps I should draft an agreement and put it up for signature. That however lead me to ponder on the root of the problem, courtesy.

Pissu Perera has blogged on the goodwill that common courtesy can generate, while some other, less fortunate bloggers have been a bit pit out by the lack of it.

According tho this "the essence of good manners is consideration for other people, a concern for the comfort and convenience of others. This, though, implies a diminution of the importance of self. This is the principal reason good manners are important; not only do we all benefit from other people's good manners, our lives are enhanced by the necessary reduction in self-importance that our consideration for other people inevitably entails. To observe bad manners in someone is, unfailingly, to see the very essence of them. The same is true of good manners."

So perhaps instead of formal CFA or even a code of ethics what is needed is a return to old fashioned courtesy. We may disagree with people, that is what debate and democracy are about, but let us not be disagreeable when going about it.


Dee said...

hear hear.

Makuluwo said...

Well put. :)

sittingnut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sittingnut said...

question is who decides what is "disagreeable". you see it is not well defined (a bit like "moderate", which depends on your definition of the extreme, which varies widely)
should one who disagrees with the another person decide what is "disagreeable"? may be his friends ? id so who are his friends? ppl who share his prejudices and values?
should a judgment made like that have any value to any anyone else who do not find the same thing "disagreeable" and do not share the same prejudices and values ?
truth, you know, can be bitter and thus "disagreeable". truth about war, deaths, family members, corruption, prejudices, etc. esp so
(god! some might even find truths about vague definitions of "disagreeableness ", disagreeable.)

should "civility" triumph truth in such cases ? what do you think? hope i am not being uncivil in asking such questions?:-)
say we have reason to believe buffalo guilty of something. should we blog about it only when he or his family do not have blog and/or do not read our blog?

hmmmmm questions to think about ....
may be ppl who do not think through before rushing to conclusions and proposals are being "disagreeable"? i don't think so but may be you do?

Jack Point said...

Hey S'nut, yes I suppose the term disagreeable is open to interpretation. Concepts of courtesy as whole are not always fixed which is why publishers such as Debrettes exist I suppose.

I think the old adage that dinner table conversation should exclude religion and politics is to play extremely safe and ensure that no feelings are hurt. At the same time, as you rightly point out there are difficult topics that do need discussion and must be aired.

Serendib_Isle said...

There is no need to re-invent the wheel, I propose we follow a good sample of “Blogger’s Code of Conduct” – self regulation is the best form. Here’s one from Tim O’Reilly (

We celebrate the blogosphere because it embraces frank and open conversation. But frankness does not have to mean lack of civility. We present this Blogger Code of Conduct in hopes that it helps create a culture that encourages both personal expression and constructive conversation.

1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.

We are committed to the "Civility Enforced" standard: we will not post unacceptable content, and we'll delete comments that contain it.

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that:
- is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
- is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
- infringes upon a copyright or trademark
- violates an obligation of confidentiality
- violates the privacy of others

We define and determine what is "unacceptable content" on a case-by-case basis, and our definitions are not limited to this list. If we delete a comment or link, we will say so and explain why. [We reserve the right to change these standards at any time with no notice.]

2. We won't say anything online that we wouldn't say in person.

3. We connect privately before we respond publicly.

When we encounter conflicts and misrepresentation in the blogosphere, we make every effort to talk privately and directly to the person(s) involved--or find an intermediary who can do so--before we publish any posts or comments about the issue.

4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.

When someone who is publishing comments or blog postings that are offensive, we'll tell them so (privately, if possible--see above) and ask them to publicly make amends.
If those published comments could be construed as a threat, and the perpetrator doesn't withdraw them and apologize, we will cooperate with law enforcement to protect the target of the threat.

5. We do not allow anonymous comments.

We require commenters to supply a valid email address before they can post, though we allow commenters to identify themselves with an alias, rather than their real name.

6. We ignore the trolls.

We prefer not to respond to nasty comments about us or our blog, as long as they don't veer into abuse or libel. We believe that feeding the trolls only encourages them--"Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, but the pig likes it." Ignoring public attacks is often the best way to contain them.

Jack Point said...

Thanks Serendib, thats pretty comprehensive.

DeeCee said...


that makes sense

JP said...

I'd rather agree to disagree, and share a drink rather than disagree to agree.

specially liked the bit about"won't say anythingonline that we would not say in person" ...That is where it should be heading, I think.

Jack Point said...

JP , thanks for visiting and yes I agree that we don't disagree....:)