Bristol, May-2013
Creative Commons License photo credit: maltman23

The End of Kindness: weev and the Cult of the Angry Young Man is a must read by Greg Sandoval over at The Verge. For anyone, really. It is the duty of responsible people to not accept this type of behavior, if they see it, and to discourage anyone they are associated with from engaging in it.

Most community management veterans are probably aware of Kathy Sierra’s story, but it’ll be new for many of you. It’s frightening, but these frightening acts are carried out all the time. Even if it is hard to read about them, it is important to do so.

I believe that well moderated online communities may be the last bastion of hope for people who seek to engage with others online, but to not be subjected to scary, malicious threats. Don’t get me wrong, those threats do come even in those communities, but it is how they are handled that makes the difference. It’s a culture thing. It’s the understanding that it isn’t accepted or encouraged.

Community managers (and those attempting to facilitate community, whatever they call themselves) should think about how they can mitigate such things. You can never fully eradicate them, but you can limit their occurrence. You can openly discourage these activities by having policies against them and, most importantly, by executing those policies and dealing harshly with the first sign of abusive behavior.

This is a big scary issue and it almost feels like it’s too big to tackle. But community managers are in a unique position to make a serious mark and positively impact people’s lives. We can and should make it a priority.