Make friends and influence people

In real life, or at least in most physical, face to face interactions we have with other people, innocent discussions rarely deteriorate into bitter conflict at the slightest hint of gentle rebuttal. Yet online, healthy debate so often turns into all-out war with deeper entrenched positions as a result. If this level of belligerence was a natural part of human nature is seems unlikely that we would have been able to construct communal huts together, let alone entire civilisations. And yet, on the internet, our favored past-time seem to be to destroy supreme with glee and reckless abandon.

Clearly something is feeding the worse devils of our nature at scale, triggering ancient psychological mechanisms that in ways we don’t quite understand. We are being played in the interface between ancient genetic programming and algorithms that were conceived only yesterday. We do not have any internal defences against this so must design external ones, to counter the pitfalls of our own nature.

Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

Dale Carnegie

Designing such tools is therefore front and centre among the many ambitions of Crowdpol. The goal is to provide deliberative tools designed to focus on allowing consensus to emerge through constructive dialogue. 

We aim to hack our own innate sociable qualities in part by rewarding helpful rather than hurtful behaviour and in part by making sure all players that want to be part of the game actually have some skin in it. 

For instance, if you want to post any commentary you’ll first need to complete your entire profile page. If your content is appreciated by a broad, heterogenous group, your reach will improve and with this  your chances of making and impact. Such fairly straight forward features make your word and your reputation a valuable thing. After all, the only real reason to join the platform is because you are a change maker, and if you are intent on creating lasting change, being friendly and accommodating about it is likely to improve your chances vastly, as our friend Dale would no doubt agree.

Should you to the contrary decide to ignore the rules of conduct, there will be immediate repercussions. Small transgressions will naturally pass with a slap on the wrist, everyone makes mistakes and life is for learning after all. Should the transgressions be in more blatant disregards with the agreed upon rules, should you verbally or otherwise threaten or abuse another member of the network, you will have your account immediately suspended. Intolerance can only be met with measured amounts of tolerance if a dynamic of openness and collaboration is to be sustained. 

Having an account suspended does not mean that you will be tossed off the platform. You will still be able to message your contacts and exercise your democratic rights by casting votes and such, but you will not be allowed to post content or contact anyone else until you have revisited the rules, grokked them and passed an online test or two to demonstrate that this is the case. And possibly apologised to the person or persons you mistreated. At which point you will be welcomed back into the fold.

Should you immediately start attacking people again, the process will be repeated but your suspension will be longer and the hoops you will need to jump through will get smaller every time. Because forgiving the unrepentant is like painting in the surface of water, as the saying goes. 

To balance this out, these alluded to reporting tools will not be allowed to be used and abused willy-nilly. Should you report someone as being abusive and demand that they be banned and it turns out that you misinterpreted the situation completely and perhaps even maliciously, the consequences will end up in your lap. Advocating the banning of someone, in effect the limiting of their freedom of speech, is not something to be taken lightly. On Crowdpol, each new tool you level up to wield comes with an equal amount of responsibility.

That said, there will be plenty of tools to use should one feel that one does not wish to interact with a specific person or see their posts. No need to opt for the nuclear option unless it is absolutely crucial for the climate of the network.

There will be a number of other tools to help separate the wheat from the chaff and the signal from the noise, you can read more about them here, and read the rules of conduct carefully before signing up.

But it is not rocket science. In the words of Bill and Ted, be excellent to each other.  And barring that, just be polite. It will take you to a lot more pleasant and rewarding destinations than the alternate route. 

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Tools for changemakers.

36 The Armchair Theatre