I think Michael makes some worthwhile points – particularly in his third point about Anonymity and fifth point about content inspiring community.
Anonymity – while some do like to hide behind anonymity I find that the majority of attack within blogging circles happens not because people can remain hidden but because it actually gets them attention and they think it will raise their profile. Thankfully the ‘snark strategy’ to build a blog’s profile has died away a little over the last 6 months. While it can raise your profile it can also destroy your reputation.
Content Inspiring Community – Michael quotes a comment from Gina Trapani of Lifehacker which is insightful and worth highlighting again:
“Also, 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 oneupmanship. Gawker is all about making fun of things, so its readers mock each other and it right back in the comments. Karma’s a boomerang.”
My feeling is that sites develop a culture around them. This is often set by the tone and voice of those who set them up and provide the lead (in the case of a blog – the blogger/s).
If your blog is written in a positive, optimistic, helpful and inclusive voice then I find that those commenting generally respond with a similar tone. Write in a snarky, negative, rant dominated tone that makes fun of others and you can expect a very similar vibe in your comments.
In fact I think that this principle extends out of your comments section into the way that other bloggers interact with you from their blogs also.
Of course there are exceptions to this – even the most positive and helpful bloggers get attacked from time to time – but I find that this is more the exception than the rule.
What do you think?