The mean-spirited tone of online forums is getting more attention lately…

Whatever Happened to Online Etiquette? (David Pogue)

Instead of finding common ground, we’re finding new ways to spit on the other guy, to push them away. The Internet is making it easier to attack, not to embrace.

Beware the Online Collective (Jaron Lanier)

I remember the first time I noticed myself becoming mean when I left an anonymous comment on a blog. What is it about that situation that seems to bring out the worst in people so often?...Blogs often lead to such divisiveness that people end up caring more about clan membership than truth after a while.

The blog commentor’s gaze (Jason Kottke)

interacting via text strips out so much social context and “incidental information” that causes some people to display psychopathic behavior online and fail to develop an online moral sense.

Blogosphere 2.0: civility strikes back (profile of Mena Trott)

Trott has an interesting golden rule that she would like to see bloggers adopt. “If you aren’t going to say something directly to someone’s face, than don’t use online as an opportunity to say it,” she says. “It is this sense of bravery that people get when they are anonymous that gives the blogosphere a bad reputation.”

Pogue just published some reader responses to his lament about online etiquette. Some of the more interesting offerings…

+ “Why is everyone so angry?!! It appears there is so much suppressed anger these days. Nearly everyone is so much richer in material things, but so much poorer in a philosophical sense, i.e. living a meaningful life.”

+ “I’ve been reading Slashdot since 1996 and UseNet since 1982, and I can’t agree that there has been a decline in civility. The same low standards we see today have been more or less constant. We can and should bemoan those standards, but if there is a downward trend, I sure don’t see it.”

+ “The smaller [sites] have less jerks, and different sites attract different sorts of audiences.”

+ “Netiquette in public forums has a lot to do with the content around which the community is centered. Lifehacker’s posts set out to help folks, so in kind, our readers want to help us and each other back. Digg is a popularity contest of one-upmanship. Gawker is all about making fun of things, so its readers mock each other and it. Karma’s a boomerang.”

What do you think? Are there any solutions or is the negativity just something we’ve got to accept?