Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Civility Online? Yes!

Posted on Thursday, December 21, 2006 by No comments yet

So much online space is whacked… strange people doing strange things… wonder around MySpace and soak it up.  Even the relatively mainstream sites often sound shrill… spend an hour reading the comments section of some of the political blogs out there.  Then there’s the manufactured hipness of most commercial sites.

So what’s a grown up to do? Many in our beta city are finding Front Porch Forum and breathing a sigh of relief.  With participation in each neighborhood forum limited to nearby residents (within a few hundred households) and each message automatically labeled with name and address, people know to be on their best behavior.  An exchange this week in one of our urban forums demonstrates…

A local real estate agent asked “why do we tolerate the theft of shopping carts by people who use them to collect refundable bottles and cans out of our recycling bins?”  A few replies to the neighborhood forum built a rejoinder around “hey, give these folks a break; we should be helping them out not making them out to be criminals.”

At this point, in other online venues, one could almost hear folks gassing up their flame throwers, preparing for the inevitable nasty exchange.  Not here.  The real estate agent responded civilly and expanded on his original point… “why is it okay to steal shopping carts?  We’d have a different reaction if these folks were stealing cars to collect bottles and cans, or your kid’s little red wagon.”

Now, when these previously-unknown-to-each-other neighbors meet while walking their dogs or shoveling snow (if it ever returns!), they’ll hopefully be able to continue this mostly civil and constructive discussion, or launch a new one… building community with those living nearby.  Neighborhood!

Posted in: Community Building, Front Porch Forum, Local Online, Stories

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