Interesting you should mention its precursors. Were you in academia or research? I worked for a public sector scientific research lab, closely connected with academia, and by the nature of things, we were early users (pioneers even) of computer networks, whose use soon branched out beyond pure data transfer and into personal communications, including email and interactive chat, newsgroups and the like. Janet, Bitnet, Earn...may be names familiar to you.
Anyway, it soon became very apparent that it was extremely hard to "set the right tone" in text-based discussions. This was what led to the invention of the smiley - now much more sophisticated of course, but with the same end in view.
Some people were quite good at adapting to this sort of electronic communication, and others less so. When this sort of communication was limited to academic scientific etc, circles, the "problem" was more containable. Of course, things have moved on a long way since then, in some ways for the better, but better technology has not solved the basic problem that anything other than face to face communication can be so easily misunderstood, and problems can soon escalate.
(Skype is an excellent compromise, although also not perfect).
Not quite to the point, I note with some regret, that the art of the long, literate and interesting email discussion is dying the death almost more quickly than the art of conventional letter-writing. I assume this can only be because people now email by phone and not sit-down keyboard devices (and are probably doing it "on the hoof", or almost), and also perhaps in some haste.
And so back to the point, forum response are also now more often made in haste, "on the hoof", and that also may contribute to some of the problems.