I didn’t want to fill this blog with links to other things, but I think I’ll make an exception when I find a blog post I wish I’d written myself. Like this: If your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault by Anil Dash. I couldn’t agree more with what he says.
I’ve always likened our behaviour online to the way we act behind the wheel of a car. From the perceived safety of our personal transportation bubble, we’ll happily throw the most vile insults at our fellow motorists – words most of us would never use face to face. The web has the same ability to bring out the worst in us, so any online space with a community needs to think very carefully about the methods it puts in place to manage that behaviour. Anil covers these perfectly.
The only thing I’d add is the importance of making a big effort when your community’s still small. The more firmly you can instil the culture you want early on, the less you’ll have to do when things get bigger.