For decades, sexist, homophobic, and anti-minority behaviour was a sad, inescapable, reality of most online communities.
Community pros generally responded to the norms of our time. We removed the worst of it (by our own subjective standards) and tolerated the rest. That usually meant that misogynist (“you bitch!”) and homophobic remarks (“your gay!”) survived.
We claimed it was too big of a problem to deal with….’boys will be boys!‘
GamerGate proves you can’t do that anymore. We should never have accepted it in the first place.
You have to decisively deal with the intolerant, extremist, elements of your community or they will define it.
You can’t lag behind the norms of our time, You should pioneer positive norms of our time. Online communities can be the final sanctuary for intolerance or the first bastion of tolerant discourse.
If you don’t rid yourself of hate and intolerance, it will seek company in your community. The only option is to enforce rules that don’t tolerate hatred of any kind to any member for any reason.
To raise your hands and say “we don’t moderate here” is a terrible defence if members are using your community to plot personal attacks.
You are morally (and often legally) responsible for everything that happens in your community because you’re the only person that can shut it down.
Tell your members that they can debate the issues until they’re exhausted, but don’t ever direct hatred towards the member themselves.
When you go from “you’re wrong!” to “you’re an idiot” you’ve crossed the line.
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