Requiring people to actually reveal real identities if they want to post to something inside or outside the company should dramatically reduce the frequency of this nasty comment behavior. In addition, both having and aggressively enforcing a no jerk posting policy should limit this behavior even further.
By denying these folks both the perceived safety and the perceived benefit, the behavior, while not eliminated, should move to other sites that dont have these policies.
In looking at the No [Jerk] book and realizing there are actually companies that have similar policies with regard to employees, I realize I personally would rather work for companies like this. Im betting you would too.
Years ago I came close to looking at the wrong end of a shotgun because the head of HR at company I was interviewing at did not have a no jerk policy. In that instance the husband of a female employee who had been verbally abused over a long period of time showed up with a shotgun to showcase his displeasure. Because he couldnt find the manager he felt the head of HR would do just about as well.
I actually changed careers after this but, in hindsight, I think it might have been better to establish and enforce a No Jerks corporate policy. Thanks for the idea to Bob Sutton, who also wrote Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense.
With certain Web properties, this problem goes beyond the workplace and into the home. Each of us, our friends, co-workers, subordinates, and families are at increased risk from people who either abuse others or who respond to that abuse without considering the collateral damage. It is perhaps well past time for there to be rules in place surrounding this behavior globally but, until then, we may want to craft policies that keep these jerks out of our companies and off our websites.