One of my father’s favorite saying was “keep honest people honest.” I used to wonder what he meant for the longest time until I started putting together the communications patterns and anti-patterns. You see the internet is the wild-wild west. Wild, in that I don’t see, or talk to you most likely in person. Wild in the sense that the username you have, isn’t always your name. Wild in the sense that there are lots of places to hide.
Because it is the wild-wild west, then it means that users of systems have to take the time to make sure other users are following the rules. Complaining about people cutting corners is fine, but you also have to make sure that you follow the rules. The only way a site can improve is if we let them know when people aren’t following the rules. Responsibility is doing the right thing, not hoping the next person does the right thing. It comes back to what my father said. Keep honest people honest, if people cut corners, let them know. If they keep cutting corners on websites, let the admins know. It is when someone cuts corners, your job to keep things moving forward.
The reality is, and the argument you are going to hear about this is I don’t want to be the police. No one does, but by simply reporting bad behavior you are doing two things. The first is you are helping the rule breaker operate within the rules. The second is you are reducing the amount of churn for other site users by reducing the number of people not following the rules. Ask not for the whole the bell tolls; it is always tolling for you. We as members of groups have to help keep honest people honest. We have to make sure that when people break the rules, we first them personally and then we report that.
Otherwise we live in the wild-wild west.