There's a review in the Observer today of a book about the behaviour of car drivers - traffic tantrums - in which a parallel is drawn with behaviour on the net (I think both both forums fights and email anger are equally relevant), noting that the anonimity of being enclosed in a car or unseen at the keyboard allows people to be more confrontational that they would be in other circumstances.
It has baffled me that all the people who have caused unrest here are all very easy to get along with if met in person. More than one forum regular has shuffled up to me after a face-to-face encounter with x and whispered, 'he's not at all what I was expecting - he's a really nice guy'. For x you can substitute whichever name you think might have been imagined as a fire-breathing monster with horns. I have sometimes imagined inviting the recent combatants to meet each other and discover just how much they have in common and how many misunderstandings there have been. We are all on the same side.
The only advice I can offer is:
(a) don't use private messages to say rude things you would be ashamed to say in public;
(b) if you find yourself writing something in public that is likely to cause offence, try to put it differently;
(c) if provoked, don't be.
I am relieved to read in David Hepworth's piece that this kind of thing goes on in other forums. I guess it was naive of me to hope that this forum would be a peaceful harbour of tranquility, where any boat can pull in without fear of anybody scratching its paintwork.