While some social media sites like Digg have become known for users with arrogant attitudes and sharp tongues, eager to belittle an author for content unworthy of their time, this seems to be a relatively new phenomenon on StumbleUpon and it should be nipped in the bud.
I realize the internet is a rough and tumble place but the meanness and venom I have seen recently should be unacceptable. I have actually witnessed a StumbleUpon user wishing an author to "die painfully" because they didn't like the article.
Excuse me? You didn't like the blog post so you felt it was OK to wish it's author to "die painfully ... and don't forget to blog about it..." in a public forum? A public forum known to be used by children?
There have always been bullies on the internet, hanging around chat rooms and trying to dominate forums. It only stands to reason their kind would gravitate to and flourish on the social media sites as well.
They use the anonymity of the internet to push people around in ways they never could in a face to face environment. People who get bullied warn one another privately, "Be careful, you don't know who or what you're dealing with."
The first responsibility for policing behavior on a site always falls to the site owner and that should be the case here. StumbleUpon should not tolerate obnoxious and abusive behavior from its users and should have an easy method to report it along with a system of penalties for it.
Partial responsibility belongs, however, with the community as well. As long as we, the community, sit by and quietly ignore the behavior, we can be guaranteed it will continue to get worse.
If we point out the intolerable behavior and demand action, we will have, at least, done our part. It is then up to the powers that be to correct the situation.
StumbleUpon is a wonderful community and the Stumble Bar is a wonderful tool. Together they allow us to discover and share items online in ways we didn't even dream of only a few years ago.
It would be a shame for a disruptive minority of users to be allowed to create an environment where people were not comfortable participating.
* If you enjoyed this post you might be interested in this follow-up.
If you enjoyed your read, grab my feed!