As with online irony, online civility emerges from linguistic superfluity, the perception that an extra effort has been made, whether through hedges, honorifics, or more over-all words.
I would have simplified it: Online writing sounds more polite when you take the time to write more words.
The article goes on to suggest three ways to add those words: “hedges, honorifics, or more over-all words.” Bad advice. The first suggestion – hedging – would weaken your writing.
The other advice is too vague to be helpful. What’s the difference between “more words” and “more over-all words”? And how do you do add words effectively?
Honorifics are titles or words indicating respect. How would you use them?
I’m surprised The New Yorker didn’t send the article back for some revisions.