Is online civility a possibility? You judge.

Jeff Pearlman writes about baseball for SI.com. He also authored the controversial Sports Illustrated article featuring John Rocker’s opinions of playing baseball in New York .

Pearlman has opinions. And, so do his readers. The intersection of those opinions can, apparently, be a toxic place.

Recently, Pearlman shared some thoughts on whether supposed steroid users should make baseball’s Hall of Fame. He raised doubts about Jeff Bagwell’s candidacy. The most vicious passage I could find said:

"A handful of media types cite his staggering power numbers, his Randy (Macho Man) Savage physique as a player, his many years with a franchise that was known to be a hotbed for steroids" and question his Hall worthiness.

Several readers disagreed with Pearlman’s assertion and took him to task through Twitter. Pearlman contacted two of the disgruntled readers and, after trading messages, typed a thought-provoking column for CNN.com.

Here is the link.

We live in a world of social media, chat rooms and the like. The ability to share opinions anonymously is readily available. As Pearlman’s story illustrates, it can get out of hand.

Debate and discussion is healthy. Just remember that there is a person at the other end most times and online civility – as Pearlman calls it – is a good thing.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

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