I wondered whether she could suggest a strategy to deal with the online civility issue, so I e-mailed her at her office, at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University.
Her courteous and thoughtful reply followed straightaway:
Dear Jeffrey – I wish I could offer a solution to this one! Groups that have some chance for occasional discussion either directly and through representatives have much greater chances for cooperation. One strategy used by some groups successfully is “shaming.”
Some housing co-ops post the name of any member that did not attend a workday or is behind in voluntary payments on a prominent board for posting announcements. Helps keep these infractions down.
Shaming has to fit the problem and population involved and I can’t think of a specific way you could do this but thought I would mention the idea.
Hmm. Shaming is possible online. For several years, I was one of the mainstays of a religion-themed blog run by the Dallas Morning News. Like Politics Daily, we allowed anonymous comments. And as is the case here, some of the comments were totally vile. We killed those off as fast as we saw them.