The Thorny Issue of Reader-Writer Online Interaction

Robbie MacNiven

633797175805438070-flamewars The third Google image if you search “flamewars” is a Warhammer 40,000 one. Coincidence?

The internet can sometimes be stereotyped as “not a very nice place.” There is a belief that, whatever the qualities of individuals, there is a miserly and cruel streak that runs through the collective hive consciousness of the online community. The old adage that anonymity brings out the worst is us sometimes doesn’t seem so far from the truth, and it only takes a glance “below the line,” whether on the comments sections of online articles, videos, or forum boards, to set faith in humanity a-shakin’.

That’s the pessimistic view. It holds that vicious and unreasoning arguments lurk beneath the surface of even the most benign online interactions. It warns us off “feeding the trolls” or stoking flamewars. Antagonism can be found in plentiful supply, supposedly, and no more so than when subjective material is the topic of discussion…

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