There are two kinds of trolls in this world: the precious '90s doll and the not-so-precious, often malicious online commenter. The latter came into sharp focus today when Brandon Stanton, the genius behind the Humans of New York blog, posted an open letter to his readers on Facebook. His intention was to respond to some users who claimed they'd been banned from the HONY site. As Stanton explains, no one's been restricted from viewing the content — nor is he in charge of which users are banned in the first place. Rather, his assistants who moderate comments "ban anyone who is attacking the subject" from commenting in the future.
The letter serves as an excellent reminder that it stings to be criticized, whether the commenter uses lofty language or expletives. "If you're attacking the subject with an erudite, graduate-level vocabulary, you're still attacking the subject," Stanton writes. And, while he acknowledges that everyone's entitled to their own opinions, he astutely points out that those negative thoughts can be kept to the user's own page, rather than sully the welcoming environment of HONY. If his site becomes a place for criticism, he won't be able to take the photographs that make the blog so unique, as subjects won't want to risk being humiliated online. "Humans of New York can continue to exist without your enlightenment. But, it can't exist without subjects," writes Stanton. Therefore, if you're "using the comment section to cast extreme judgement on someone you know only through a single quote, you are probably going to be banned from commenting."
Check out the full letter below. You may as well consider it the unofficial etiquette guide to adding your two cents online.