How do we encourage good behaviour online?

With the issues regarding this site, and the debate regarding our rights online you have to consider the future of the web as a platform for collaboration and participation. Comments being key to the latter aspect.

While musing the issue of trolling on websites, I came across this interview (The Guardian - tech weekly, 17.04.2012) with the 4chan founder Chris Poole. In discussing trolling he drew a comparison between Flickr and YouTube.

As we all know, the latter has one of the most horrid online communities, while Flickr is a much friendlier site (speaking generally here, of course). Chris noted some differences were in the strides Flickr went to in its infancy to establish a community where help and constructive criticism is valued among members. You wouldn't have to read the rules/guidelines to know that you can't have your YouTube hat on over at the Flickr forums.

The Verge allows for commenting which is commendable, but in addition to the meanness encountered there are actually some convincing arguments in favour of getting rid of comments altogether (and not the ones from people with hurt feelings). Conversely, the value of comments should not be overlooked.

With the success of Facebook bringing the 'me' culture as well as the somewhat worrying idea of filter bubbles (where I only see what I want to see), it's no surprise to see people reacting badly to differing opinions - more than expected. I have to wonder how and if sites will find a way to cultivate and maintain 'good' online communities while still providing interesting discussion from people with differing opinions.

Thanks for reading, looking forward to the comments. I have some ideas (particularly regarding here) but would like others to chime in first.