Networking Ethics


I’m opening this topic because I’m extremely interested in the ethical rationale of social networking. I’ve read a few studies regarding mirror neurons and realize that humans are remarkably more empathetic than any other creature (that we know of). Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky has made a lot of progress in our understanding of how emotional processes in the brain function. The extent our emotions can reach must explain a good amount of the ethics being advocated in forums all over the web. It is troubling to know that people have taken their lives due to what all too often seems like simple text. In some cases, I’ve noticed the attacks aren’t even towards individuals. Members of this or that social circle still manage to be affected just by reading scrutiny of their group.

When the issue of censorship comes up, I think back to George Carlin’s comedic rant about how swear words are just words. He sort of had a point, but it seems that communication in practice is more dangerous than being “just words”. I don’t like to think the internet will be regulated or censored, but I also don’t think letting people say absolutely anything to anyone is the most considerate way to go about global networking. I used a vicious style of rhetoric on this forum for the pro-soylent “side” and was still met with warnings of caution. The principles being advocated are being upheld with consistency, otherwise my tone would have been overlooked in favor of my pro-soylent rant.

I used to be the kind of early networker that absolutely loved trolling and fighting mindless flame wars. The problem is freedom of speech was not very well understood when it took 10 years and countless dollars just to send a scrap of paper that said “hi”. People are much more frivolous with their words today because they seem so cheap, but there are numerous expenses that are beyond justifiable calculation.

What do you guys think, are there two sides to this coin?
Is there any justification for cruel banter?
Are there any costs to total ethical discourse?
How do you see the costs and benefits (if any) weighing against each other?


I’m failing to see the relevance this has to Soylent…

Is this intended to be a discussion of what we should in the forums? If so, please clarify what exactly you’re addressing, as I’m failing to see which of your questions aren’t already answered by the faq.

But from what I can gather… these are my answers to your given questions. All responses are assuming an understanding of the subjective nature of value judgements and/or the established goals of the forums, as laid out in the FAQs.

Under most understandings of “justification”, I’d have to say cruelty is intrinsically unjust. Under my own in particular, anything form of maliciousness that is unproductive is unjustifiable.

There are always costs to everything. For the purposes of this forum, I can foresee no unjustifiable costs. Adherence to 100% civility results in a productive and less emotionally draining discussion, with no loss, relative to the goals of this forum.

There is no benefit to the community in uncivil discussion. There is no cost to civil discussion.


I’m confused by your “freedom of speech” reference as the 1st Amendment has nothing to do with how a private company administers the comments on its own site.


It wasn’t meant to be related to Soylent or what we should in the forums. I will limit my posts to Soylent specifically if general discussions are frowned upon.


It wasn’t referencing the American’s 1st Amendment exactly and I didn’t mean to imply that there’s any ambiguity in how a private company gets to manage their own forum. I apologize.


The forums here are specifically meant for discussing Soylent and related topics. It’s not intended to be a general forum, and general discussion is usually considered off topic.

But, if you do have something regarding Soylent or related subjects, feel free to post it here. I always welcome productive discussions.


Oops! Won’t happen again.


Much like your trying to do here and in your other post.


I’m going to go ahead and close this thread, thanks for cooperating with our community guidelines everyone :smile: