WikHow has a useful article on “How to be nice”. I thought I might adapt it for “How to be nice on this blog”. It might help some people in the combox…
How to Be Nice
You’ve been told to be nice since you were a child, but what exactly does it mean to not be mean? “Nice” is a vague term to put it. If your parents never gave you the break-down, here it is.
1. Smile. Well, obviously that’s going to be difficult on a blog for a start – since we can’t see your face. But if you write with a happy smile on your face, that might help you adopt “a smiley tone” in your comment. It will let people know that you are pleasant and inviting. If you adopte a smiley tone with someone, they won’t do anything but adopt a smiley tone back. If they don’t, then maybe they are just having a bad day. It is up to you to set the mood of the encounter. Make it happy by being the first to adopt a smiley tone. Normally, the internet equivalent of making faces or moody looks at someone is not nice.
2. Say hello. If you are new to the blog, introduce yourself and let us know where you are coming from. Don’t just butt in. Try to acknowledge the presence of other readers with a simple “hello” or “hi” or a nod in their direction.
3. Be a good listener. Bother to read what other commentators have written and take the time to understand them. It isn’t nice to just ignore other peoples’ opinions and stories. If you find that someone is becoming rude or pushy, acknowledge their opinion, issue a compliment (“Having your own set of values and beliefs is pretty admirable”) and excuse yourself politely (“I’m sorry, I’ve got to go get the groceries so I can meet my husband/wife when they get home.”).
4. Be courteous. Always say “please,” “thank you” and “you’re welcome.” You can also address people by sir or ma’am, but that might be a bit formal for this blog. Be patient, observant, and considerate. Treat people with respect. Even if you don’t particularly like someone at first, they could end up being a really interesting and kind person. Remember: People aren’t dogs or the ground you spit on.
5. Be positive. Well, it’s hard not to be negative or critical at times – and even the blog owner finds difficulty in being positive all the time. But keep looking for the positive in any given situation. Think of it this way: Your job is to cheer other SCE readers up and make their day!
6. Be humble. This applies to everyone on this blog except the owner. No, alright, it applies to me too… The key to being nice is remembering that you are not “better” than someone else. You’re an individual, but everybody has their struggles, and being nice to one another makes life better for everyone.
7. Be sincere. This is a blog where you can be honest. I don’t want to suggest that anyone should hide their true beliefs or opinions on this blog. Don’t be nice just because you don’t want your comment deleted (which it probably will be if you aren’t nice). Be nice because you want to look back on what you have written in the combox and know that, yes, while you may indeed be “infallibly right in your opinions”, and yes, you may indeed have “told those heretics a thing or two”, you are still a nice person, and they will still want to dialogue with you more in the future, and they will still be open to your ideas next time you post a comment, and you don’t have to add what you wrote to the list for your next visit to the confessional.
Always remember the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Even though some people may not be nice to you at first, they will the more they get to know you.
Assume the best about people. Most people don’t mean to insult or offend others most of the time. Unless it’s overt, assume the slight was accidental. Don’t assume that someone is a heretic until you really know that they are!
If you find yourself thinking poorly about someone, don’t worry; you’re not a terrible person because we all do this from time to time. However, try to catch yourself doing it, and think of something nice about that person instead. It’ll help you look at people more positively, and you’ll quickly break the habit of seeing the worst in someone.
Don’t laugh at other people’s mistakes and don’t point out their faults too harshly. It’s okay to joke, of course, but use your common sense; think about what you’re about to say, and consider the fact that just because you may not be offended by a certain comment, others could be.
Be optimistic about everything, even when you don’t particularly feel like it. Always look on the bright side!
Never underestimate the power of optimism, but at the same time, you can crack a joke in a funny way to make you more likable or just something unexpected so long as you counteract it with a lot of positive behaviour as well. Funny, I find, is nice.
While being nice, do not be a total pushover. You don’t have to compromise your opinions on this blog, but you also should expect to be treated fairly. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what is right and do not hesitate to defend someone.
You may have heard that “It’s not what you see, it’s what’s on the inside that counts”. This might be true, but on this blog all we see of you is what you write. That’s all we have to judge you on. If you are barbarous in your first comments, that is how you’ll be known. It will be hard to expect others to treat you fairly since all they know of you is what you write. If you are friendly the first impression, people will know you as nice and sincere.