Good question. In some venues (you know who you are!), an overwhelming amount of evidence points to “no.” In other settings a culture of respect and mutual support pervades. Books and blogs (one of my favorites) are written about online community management.
Front Porch Forum currently hosts a network of 140 online neighborhood forums that blankets 25 northwest Vermont towns… and each of our 140 forums is unique… and they all change over time. However, the tone is rarely negative and, as a whole is civil and constructive. This is due to many design decisions refined over time. But also it’s because of our members.
Here’s what Westford member Penny posted tonight to her nearby neighbors who’ve been having a rich and sometimes heated discussion before and after Town Meeting Day…
I would like to commend Eric on taking the time to write his letter. He addressed the issues of late in a respectful manner. I would like to see more of this in this forum, regardless of your position on any of the topics or issues. It certainly does feel more hostile lately with some of the posts. Kinda takes the shine off the great venue we have here. Please present your opinions, because this is the place to do so if you want to have an impact. But please do so in a manner that preserves the integrity of this forum. As always, thanks to Front Porch Forum for this great opportunity to be part of something great.
It’s wonderful when the members set a positive tone with their contribution (e.g., Eric)… and it’s outstanding when they step up, as Penny does here, to both applaud positive contributions and encourage a respectful tone from others.