The following is a guest post from momAgendaCOMM blogger Beth Anne Ballance.
The internet has really amazing qualities of connection and inspiration, from blogs and products to stories and graphics. Getting to work on the internet is one of the greatest perks of blogging – to read others words and see the pictures that capture their lives. It brings us all closer and our lives just within reach to make the world seem a little less strange and lonely. Unfortunately, this freedom can also create an atmosphere of hostility and disrespect, both in words and material.
You might be snickering now that I would be chatting about internet etiquette, but hear me out – if there is one thing I’ve learned in the past four years, it’s that social media never rests and therefore, your reputation never rests. The internet never forgets. And reputations are difficult, if not often impossible, to rebuild. I’ll put it to you this way – it’s been two years since I stepped foot on a certain message board and people are still talking about my time on there and the things I said four years ago.
It’s easy to avoid that kind of reputation, though…Here are the rules that I try to follow myself when it comes to internet etiquette:
1) Be kind. That snappy comment you have that seems moderately funny? It’s probably not funny to the person on the receiving end, especially since tone can be lost easily through typed words.
2) Take things in stride. Someone makes a snappy comment? Your favorite blogger ignores your tweet? Take a deep breath. There’s always more to the story than the web shows and maybe the person is simply having a rough, hectic day.
3) Link with love. Found a great picture or post? Share it! But share it with ethics – be sure you link back to the original source (NOT Google images). This is especially important when interacting on Pinterest.
4) Don’t crop URL’s and watermarks out of photos. That’s altering content that does not belong to you and is cheating the creator out of recognition.
5) Be careful with Twitter Direct Messages. Raise your hand if you’ve seen someone accidentally tweet something that was meant to be a private DM! ::everyone raises hands:: It’s really embarrassing, right? Personally, I try to keep private conversations in email since I can get mouse-happy on Twitter.
6) Use Facebook circles. Hey, guess who’s interested in knowing about your insomnia, stomach virus, and child’s poop? Your mom. No, really. Just your mom. So if you’re going to post every single aspect of your day on Facebook, categorize your friends and maybe just leave dear old Mom on your more personal updates.
7) Don’t complain about work. Your employer may have more access to your social media than you anticipate. So it’s best to just bite your tongue rather than put frustrations over your new boss on Twitter or Facebook or your blog.
8) Don’t steal content. If you didn’t write it, don’t claim it. JUST DO NOT DO IT. It’s not nice and it’s illegal.
Always remember the internet is a vast, wonderful, unforgiving place. Be sure you make it a better place.
a person who learned it the hard way
Beth Anne Ballance is a born and bred Southern Belle. She blogs at The Heir to Blair using words and pictures to celebrate the challenges of motherhood and the joy of life. Connect with Beth Anne on Twitter and Facebook.