www.whyville.net Mar 8, 2009 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Citizens, We Still Have a Problem

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Citizens of Whyville. In 2005, I felt forced to write an article about the frankly disgraceful manners of many of the BBSers (#5037). Four years on, and it seems matters have just gotten worse. These BBSes tend to quickly become the most popular BBSes in the issue. They consist of people unrelentingly slating the author for what has been written. As people catch wind of the BBS, the number of people commenting grow and it is hardly ever for the better. Often, noble Whyvillians will try and intervene but this just leads to more arguing. The author will often have to read through page after page of abuse.

Is there ever any excuse for calling an article pathetic? For dozens of Whyvillians to be directing hate at one person. For calling the Whyvillian pitiful? No, never. Who are you to know who is behind the computer screen? Whyville is a site primarily aimed at 8-13 year olds. Who's going to walk up to an 8 year old in real life and tell them personally that they are pathetic

Don't pretend it's only the fringe BBSers either. It's those Times Writers who should be role models who are doing it as well. With the recent Senate Races coming up, people are using their role as "Official Scrutinizer of Platforms" to absolutely hurl abuse. The first line of a prominent WTA winner's thread on one BBS goes "X has a mean-spirited, horrible heart and a platform to match". Lovely. Another one told her that she has an "utterly repulsive face". What about "Your candidacy is a joke," or the citizen who said the platform was "pathetic"? All influential citizens in the BBS. I don't care who she is or what that particular candidate did but that behavior was disgraceful.

Cyber-bullying. That's what it is. One is able to assert their authority over people without having to "deal" with all of the emotional pressures of communicating with someone face to face. Cyber-Bullying is an issue dealt with in other children's sites, such as Bebo for example, but why do we not have anything in place to prevent it in Whyville?

Is it time that the BBSes adopt a written Acceptable Use policy? We have no direct rules that I can tell about bullying or inflammatory behavior or I certainly don't remember anything (apart from the use of X rated language) mentioned in the Chat License test. We need something that can be easily read and understood by Whyvillians to outline what and what not should be said in the BBS. Imagine if a visitor to Whyville saw the attitude in last week's BBS! What would they think?

Or should City Workers intervene? Should they not have a duty of care to Whyvillians having aimed the site at such a young demographic? Sure, it would mean a bit more work but is this not worth it to preserve the emotional health of many, many Whyvillians.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I am so glad I am not a new writer because if I saw the way people are being treated, I would never dare to write.

Cobd . . . wondering . . . whatever happened to the Whyville Way?

Author's Note: In times like this, I always tend to heed the words of citizens who I still hold utmost respect for. It gives me some hope.

"Listen. We can pretend that we are all somehow morally superior and deny the fact that we are self righteous. But everyone else can see girls on the BBS being the b****** they can't be in real life - because in real life they have the decency not the debase themselves in such a barbaric manner. In real life they have respect not only for others, but also for themselves."


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