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    Don't be a jerk (an essay)
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2007 Nov 24, 02:35 -0500

    Here's something I've been meaning to post for a while on general etiquette 
    issues for online communities: 
    It's an essay entitled "Don't Be a Jerk": 
    The FUNDAMENTAL Principle:
    "Don't be a jerk" is the fundamental rule of all online social spaces. Every 
    other policy for getting along is a special case of it. Although nobody in 
    this community is empowered to ban or block somebody for being a jerk (as 
    this would be an instance of being a jerk!), it is still a bad idea to be 
    one. So don't do it. 
    No definition of being a jerk is being provided here. This is deliberate. If 
    a significant number of reasonable people suggest, whether bluntly or 
    politely, that you are being a jerk, the odds are good that you are not 
    entirely in the right. 
    Being right about an issue does not mean you're not being a jerk. Jerks CAN 
    be right � but they're still jerks; if there's something in what they say 
    that is worth hearing, it goes unheard, because no one likes listening to 
    jerks. It doesn't matter how right they are. 
    COPING with Being Called a Jerk:
    If you've been labeled as a jerk, especially if you have been told this by 
    several people in a particular community, it might be wise to consider the 
    possibility that it is true. If you suspect that you may be a jerk, the 
    first step is to become aware of it. Ask yourself what behavior might be 
    causing this perception. Try changing your behavior and your mode of 
    presentation. In particular, identify the harsh words in your communications 
    and replace them with softer ones. 
    Honestly examine your motivations. Are you here to contribute 
    constructively? Or is your goal really to find fault, get your views across, 
    or be the one in control? Perhaps secretly inside you even enjoy the thrill 
    of a little confrontation. This may not make you a bad person, but to 
    everyone else, you become an impediment. People get frustrated, rancor 
    ensues, the atmosphere changes, and the whole community suffers. Are you 
    here to give, or to take? 
    If appropriate, publicly apologize to anyone to whom you may have appeared 
    to be a jerk. It's okay; this won't make you seem weak. On the contrary, 
    people will take notice of your willingness to cooperate and will almost 
    always meet your efforts with increased respect. 
    Telling someone "Don't be a jerk" can easily be a jerk-move in itself, so 
    don't use this criticism lightly. This creates an obvious conundrum. 
    It Takes TWO:
    It takes two to have a disagreement. You can't argue with yourself. If 
    you're involved in a dispute that has become emotional or rude, blame 
    yourself first. It's always a good place to start. If after careful 
    reflection you sincerely believe that you are not at fault, then your best 
    bet may be to step back for a few days. 
    NOTE: most of the above text is borrowed from an essay on Wikipedia. There 
    are a few little additions here and some minor editorial changes, but there 
    is also one rather large change in the original vocabulary which I felt 
    would be more appropriate for NavList. If you would like to read the 
    original, follow this url: http://tinyurl.com/zrlga 
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