I guess many of us have seen (or participated in) web forum discussions where understanding between participants breaks down and cordiality takes an unfortunate downward spiral. I feel quite sure that in the majority of cases this would not happen if the people concerned were conducting their discussion in the same room together. Instead they would enjoy a lively debate and probably become friends! I think the concept of web forums has shortcomings which enables these kind of problems:
a) People get the wrong end of the stick or misinterpret the mood / intent of what was written, either because the writer didn't explain well or the reader missed the point. [the problem starts]
b) It's not an instinctive two way discussion. There's no body language to support the text, thus no immediate feedback to sooth tension, build empathy, establish a bond. This can be done via text alone but is much more difficult for some people. [the rift is exacerbated rather than repaired]
c) People tend to be more pleasant toward strangers in face-to-face interactions. Ask anyone who works in customer service. Many customers write nasty, inappropriately aggressive letters and emails but then when meeting face-to-face they suddenly behave and become reasonable. The difference can be like Jeckel and Hyde! Personally i think this goes some way to revealing the maturity of the person and quality of their character. [the willingness to be polite and reasonable]
d) Ego and face saving gets out of control because the whole world is reading. It's public.
e) The anonymity factor allows people [fools] to be irresponsible without consequences.
Humans are just not naturally cut out for establishing understanding with each other this way, so we have to learn the art of achieving successful contact via the keyboard alone.
The above gives everyone the benefit of any doubt that they are actually very nice people behind their keyboards, and for sure the vast majority indeed are. The final truth may be that unfortunately there are some real t0$$ers out there in the real world who just want to be a pain. Thankfully hardly any of such clowns on here!
_________________It takes a crank to start a revolution
/ 96LavaDome / 99HeiHei(here)