Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thinking About Netiquette

From time to time I write a blog post on the blogosphere itself. Today, a few thoughts are running through my mind on netiquette for blogs and internet interaction. So I dump them here.

First, if you have a comment section, then interact on the comments, or allow others to interact. Some people have such a large readership, they intentionally don’t interact much on their own blog. That’s not a problem for most. But it’s certainly  fine. I would suggest that you perhaps just make it clear on the home page that your practice is not to interact on the comments.

Some people heavily moderate their blog comments. I don’t. I rarely remove a post. I am not a big fan of heavy moderation, aside from being off topic, or being obscene.  

There are some bloggers who allow almost always delete comments that question or take objection to the post, but they allow the comments which pat them on the back.

In my view, if you allow comments, then allow comments. If you don’t, then don’t. But don’t moderate the comment section to look like no one disagrees with you. And don’t refer to comments that don’t exist (as in, “Joe, I deleted your comment because it demonstrated that you were a hypocritical idiot and I can’t let that stand”). And if you moderate your comments, don’t complain that other sites moderate their comments.

There are several people who have no problem with strong disagreement and interaction on their blog. I like that. I don’t like people who make strong posts and then edit or moderate the comments to remove all disagreement.

Second, if someone asks you a question, try to answer it. It is a far too common tactic to say, “I was clear; it’s your problem you don’t understand.” That may be the case. It may not  be. But in my experience, most people are not nearly as clear in their writing as they think they are. Writing is a difficult medium. You cannot have instant interaction like you can in person.

And remember, you write from a head full of data and thoughts that your readers do not have. Therefore, things that may be perfectly clear to you (because of your thoughts) may not be clear to the readers because they do not know what your thoughts are.

There’s an old saying: If the student hasn’t learned, then the teacher hasn’t taught. While it’s not entirely true, I think it is actually a pretty good principle.

If someone asks “What do you mean?” it’s usually a good sign that you probably weren’t as clear as you thought you were, at least to them. And if your goal is communication, take another run at it. But when you do, actually try to answer the question.

Third, if you are going to post a comment on a blog, then post on the blog topic. Don’t use blog comments to post unrelated things, particularly when they are personal in nature. That is called “spamming” in the internet world. And don’t use someone else’s blog comments merely for free advertising for your own blog. Feel free to link to your blog in your name section of your comment, but don’t blast the comment section with links to your own blog.

Fourth, remember that the blogosphere lacks important communication data like body language, facial expression, and eye contact. A question may be nothing more than a question. Just because you are oversensitive and insecure doesn’t mean that everyone else is. So relax. Don’t take it personal, and don’t get personal.

Fifth, remember your own depravity. Suspect yourself first. You will usually find a large problem right there.

And then get over yourself. You’re not as important or intelligent as you think you are. And you’re a lot more sinful than you think you are. So deal with it, and move on.

As always, feel free to comment to help clarify, correct, or instruct. Just be on topic and post with grace.


Jason said...

"Fourth... A question may be nothing more than a question. Just because you are oversensitive and insecure doesn’t mean that everyone else is. So relax. Don’t take it personal, and don’t get personal."

I appreciate the irony with which you demonstrate the point.

sam said...

I deleted your previous comment because it lacked the sarcasm this one does...
Sam Hendrickson

Anonymous said...

Larry, I used to be one of your biggest fans of reading your blog, but I've lost some weight :). Now I'm becoming a healthy reader of your blog! Excellent points in this blog post. Thanks Skip