Over the years, here on Make: Online, we’ve had a rather open, anybody can play commenting policy. As long as you didn’t use profanity, post patently offensive remarks, or spam, your comments were likely to stand. We also allowed for anonymous commenting.
While this approach allows for the greatest number of voices, we’ve come to feel that it doesn’t necessarily foster the best sense of community. People, especially those new to DIY, to electronics, to the maker’s movement in general; people who are exploring a project idea but unsure of the design or its mechanics, frequently don’t feel “safe” in speaking up here. We’ve heard this from makers personally and in surveys we’ve done. We want to try fostering an online environment where our readers feel that they can more freely share their ideas, ask questions, and basically, think and learn out loud.
We also believe that allowing anonymous commenting, while providing a convenience, and the ability to post without one’s name being associated, can also encourage rude behavior and personal attacks. And while we don’t think the atmosphere on MAKE is at all caustic (compared to other popular tech sites), we’ve decided to change our policy a bit in an effort to hopefully create a greater sense of community among makers, a place where people of varying ages, interests, and skill levels, feel comfortable and free to ask questions, seek advice, socialize, and learn.
So, for starters, we’re turning off anonymous commenting and implementing a “be nice” commenting policy. Before you post, right above the Submit button, it will now read:
Make: Online has a “be nice” commenting policy. Don’t say anything here you wouldn’t say to a person’s face. We will use our discretion in removing comments we find offensive, spammy, self-promotional, or mean-spirited. See more on our Maker Community Guidelines page.
The Maker Community Guidelines spell out in more detail what we’re hoping our readers will take to heart in helping us build a more amiable environment here.
This is not the only thing we’re going to be doing to expand our community-building efforts. We’re also going to be “datamining” comment threads more, to find new ideas for topic-areas to explore, to elevate comments into stand-alone posts for deeper exploration, and we’re even going to be deputizing commenters and turning them into guest authors from time to time. Encouraging more maker participation is also a big priority in our upcoming site redesign, so this is only the first step in that direction. There are also plans in the works for the site that we’re super excited about and think will inspire you to become even more involved in what we’re doing here. If you’ve been to a Maker Faire, or felt the energy of a Faire through our site and video coverage — that’s what we’d like to instill here — a similar feeling of excitement, engagement, skills-sharing, and friendliness. We’d love to hear your ideas of how you think we can best accomplish this.