Recently Passed NDCA Proposals -- Petition Against Online Bullying

Proposal Cyber-Bullying Petition Passed the NDCA on a vote of 8-1 with Jim Menick dissenting.

"I want to move that the NDCA Board sign The Pledge for Online Civility in the Debate Community."

Script of the petition:

The Pledge for Online Civility in the Debate Community

Debaters are part of a greater community that fosters education, competition, and mutual respect.  And as a community, we have an obligation to cultivate a safe and respectful environment free of intimidation, harassment, and cyberbullying. 

Online discussion within the debate community is healthy and for the most part, overwhelmingly positive. However, sometimes online discussions devolve into “flame wars” where members of our debate community become the targets of name-calling, false accusations, and other harassing and intimidating behavior that has no place in our community.

Such online harassment does very real and permanent damage that often far exceeds what even the attacker intended.  Victims can be haunted by the irrevocable and public nature of how the internet keeps everything online for everyone to find and see forever.  False accusations might be perceived as true by prospective employers, college admission officers, or even family and friends.  For the attacker, they too must live with the damage they’ve done, and in some cases, face legal consequences of their own.

Bullying and harassment in this modern, online age can spiral out of control so quickly and so egregiously, that we owe it to ourselves to rise above it and put an end to it.

To that extent, we hold each other accountable and to ask of each other a pledge of civility—a promise not to be a cyberbully.  We pledge to keep it civil.  Specifically, we pledge:

  1. To stop and think before we post

    We understand that once it’s out there, we can’t take it back.  Our words will be forever available to the entire world and will reflect upon our ‘target’ (and ourselves) forever.  So we will choose words carefully, base them in fact, and when in doubt, err on the side of caution.

  2. To tone it down

    Spirited discussion is one thing.  Escalating hyperbole, insults, threats, and anything else that might be chalked up to “heat of the moment” communication instead of rationale thought should never be posted online.  We can disagree without being disagreeable.

  3. To take it off line

    We recognize that if a conversation is escalating in a bad way, we should take it off line—or at least out of the public realm.  Email.  Pick up a phone.  Have a meeting.  The world doesn’t need a permanent record of our argument.

  4. To not pile on

    Online threads tend to draw others into one side or another.  And as the conversation devolves, so does the level of civility by everyone on the thread.  We won’t take the bait.  We won’t keep adding fuel to someone else’s fire—something that only serves to make a bad thread even worse.

  5. To reintroduce social graces to online forums

    Nice, polite people can turn into real jerks from behind a keyboard.  Basic human etiquette and manners go out the window.  We’ll strive to bring back pleasantries, mutual respect, and basic human kindness to make the online world a friendlier and less-intimidating place to communicate and debate.

Please join us in our effort to keep it civil and preserve the debate community as a safe and productive community.