Online Civility and Its Muppethugging Discontents

Online Civility and Its (Muppethugging) Discontents

Sunday, January 17 – 11:30am – 12:35pm

C. Online Civility and Its (Muppethugging) Discontents – Janet Stemwedel, Sheril Kirshenbaum and Dr.Isis

Description: Janet, Sheril, and Isis regularly write about the role of civility in dialog with the public and other scientists. In this session, we will discuss the definition of civility, its importance in the communication of science, and how the call to civility can be used to derail discourse. Additionally, we will discuss the importance of finding the appropriate balance of civility and tolerance for what gets labeled as incivility in reaching and engaging each other. We reserve the right to use the words “balls,” “muppethugger,” and “wackaloon,” to FWDAOTI liberally, and cannot guarantee that at least one of the moderators will not lose her junk.


Janet says: We’re going to be putting up links to some posts we think bear on the questions we’ll be discussing (or on issues in the same ballpark). Feel free to add suggestions of your own (and if you don’t mind, please identify yourself before your suggestions so this page can itself work like a conversation).

Here are my initial offerings:

from my blog:

#scio10 preparation: Is there a special problem of online civility?: A brand-new post in which I blatantly crowdsource some questions I think we might discuss in our session.

How did we do at dialogue? There’s a chart in this post (adapted from material from the Public Conversations Project) comparing the features of arguments and dialogues. I don’t think it quite captures the civility/incivility divide (at least, the one I suspect a lot of people have in mind, which includes exhortations to argue civilly), but I think this kind of comparison could still be useful for our conversation. (For one thing, it suggests different kinds of aims we might have in our interactions with others.)

Unscientific America: Are scientists all on the same team? The quick answer: they are not, at least not for every issue or goal. But dealing successfully with these differences is probably connected to the question of civility in interesting (which is to say, complicated) ways.

Getting along vs. fixing the problem. In which, while trying to make sense of a fight about civility and tone, I see both sides … and deal with an unbidden memory of an incident that squicks me out.

And here are some posts from other people that I think are very relevant to discussions of civility online:

The Angry Black Woman: The Privilege of Politeness

Thus Spake Zuska: This is The Patriarchy: When Talking to the Master, Speak in a Civil Tone

Starts With A Bang: Weekend Diversion: How to Argue

On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess: How to Argue … [UPDATED]

DrugMonkey: Weekend Diversion: How to argue … and actually accomplish something

DrugMonkey: How to Argue Part II: On name-calling and ad hominem attacks

DrugMonkey: How to Argue Part III: Sometimes, it’s just time for a good fight

  • * * * *

Janet says: adding a few more links …

The Intersection: Online Civility and Its (Muppethugging) Discontents

On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess: The Foreplay Before ScienceOnline, Part 1

Creek Running North: Fuck Your Civility

A Blog Around the Clock, Civility and/or Politeness at ScienceOnline2010

And a couple more from my blog:
#scio10 preparation: Things I like about having conversations online.
#scio10 preparation: What people might have in mind when they say they want online civility.