Are people more polite in virtual worlds?: Choice quote – IBM has 5,000 employees in Second Life, and according to Wladawsky-Berger, “virtual worlds are a godsend for meetings.” He said that IBM has a code of conduct for staff in Second Life that they need to “be nice” and dress their avatars “appropriately” in meetings. But when among friends in the virtual world, they can do whatever they like, he said. So, do you think you are more polite in the virtual world? Do you feel compelled to be more polite because the person you are dealing with might be a complete stranger? Or are you more polite because in the virtual world, everything is recorded and traceable and your heated diatribe might come back and bite you later?
Many other interesting questions might be asked on this subject and I find the answers quite fascinating. A few socio-political studies have tried to pinpoint the nature of behavioral transactions in the virtual world but most of them have been restricted to very narrow points of view (such as the recently released study on Armed Forces participation differences in Facebook and MySpace, which is a fascinating read). At my day job, I like to reply to questions on the phone or face to face as often as possible since I know a lot can be lost in the translation. We have also had a lot of managers and business pundits preach the effectiveness of face to face transactions in the past. Is the above revelation contradictory? Are we truly more polite online and in being more polite, are we better at communicating with our peers in virtual worlds?