About Etiquette

The other day, Stephen Hurley posted a message about social media etiquette.  A number of his points were thought provoking and I replied laying out my thoughts.  I went back trying to find my reply and couldn’t.  I’m stuck here in limbo wondering if I had created a reply and then not hit post.  It’s not the first time that I’ve done that.  I apologize, Stephen.  It was a really good reply, I think.  But then I also thought that I sent it so read into that what you want!  His message  included a number of bullet points. 

  • I am constantly connected in one way or another to the stream.
  • My default setting has been the @connect option  Twitter.
  • In admitting #2, I’m also admitting that I am shutting out most of the people who I have committed to following.
  • In admitting #3, I realize that I have made Twitter more about me than about us.
  • The vast majority of the links that I push out to my network have something to do with me.
  • The vast majority of the tweets that I post are statements as opposed to questions.
  • The vast majority of the tweets that I post are “one-timers”, not really serving to open up the conversation any further.
  • I don’t take time to explore what is being sent to me in enough depth.
  • I don’t comment on other people’s work and ideas enough.
  • I am constantly connected in one way or another to the stream.

I’m a big fan of reflection in education and it’s quite obvious that he has spent some time in personal reflection on the topic.  Now, the points are his personal thoughts on various elements and they are his alone.  For a person to comment one way or the other on specific points goes beyond what he’s doing and reaches to the essence of what he is and what he wants to be online.  There’s no way that anyone could or should take it to a personal level.  He actions are between him and his keyboard.

What started all this was a list of suggested etiquettes from David Wees.  Now, David hasn’t personalized the list as one of personal reflection is the way that Stephen did.  This list is his suggested etiquette for use of social media.  I do have some issues with some of the points and agree totally with others.

  1. The network is capable of only so much information. Don’t overload the network.
  2. Be kind to each other, and assume that tweet did not convey the message intended.
  3. Links are a way of sharing extra information in a conversation. Use them sparingly.
  4. When you see a question asked, answer it, even if your answer is to redirect the questioner to another source of information.
  5. The purpose of the social media is not to gain influence, it’s to communicate ideas. Don’t forget the social in social media!
  6. Where reasonable, give attribution to ideas that you find & your sources of information.
  7. Take some time to think about what you are tweeting. Is this contributing to the conversation?
  8. It’s okay to disagree with someone, but do it respectfully. Don’t tweet what you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
  9. Be safe. Stop before you click on a link & think, does this link have a context which makes sense?
  10. Stop making lists of the "best people" to follow on Twitter. This is completely subjective & exclusionary.

I’m totally in agreement with #2, #4, #5, #8, and #9.

But…

#1.  Don’t overload the network – it’s already overloaded.  The key to being a good user of the network is one of discerning what’s important / relevant and what’s not.  As a contributor to the network, how do you overload an overloaded network?  It seems to me the pressure needs to be on the consumer to consume wisely.

#3.  The web, by its nature, is held together by linked resources.  At 140 characters, you absolutely help the cause by providing links to additional resources.  This sharing makes anyone who wishes to, an active learner.  Whole systems revolve around link management – bit.ly, tinyurl, t.co, goo.gl, j.mp etc.

#6.  Could we add “where possible”.  Given the nature of social media, can we always ensure that we’re quoting first resources?

#7.  I think this tagteams with #1.  Often, a comment can lead to a different conversation.  I’m a big fan of serendipity.

#10. I’m actually sitting on the fence on this one.  Given where I am in my level of use, I wouldn’t find that helpful at all.  However, for the beginning user, they need to start someone.  I recommend the Ontario Educators list to those from Ontario just getting started.  I understand that there’s also one of British Columbia educators.  Every successful Twitter user started with their first follow.

Having said all this, I’m more convinced that there doesn’t need to be an etiquette.  If we can’t agree on basic mechanics, how can we believe that a formal etiquette is necessary or desirable?  Each user will use it in their own level.  I think that’s important and that it’s key to success.  If I look at Stephen’s list, he’s been very personally reflective about how he uses social media.  It may be considerably different from my use.  Or yours.  The power and joy of using social media is that you’re in control of your actions and your interactions.  If something bothers you, you just stop doing it!  I think that it’s important that everyone has the ability to use social media at their own level.

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3 Replies to “About Etiquette”

  1. I would say, for the attribution “rule,” that if somebody alerted you to something that you’re passing along, you should probably try to publicly thank them. I know it’s not always possible (it can get kind of clunky if the person who did it isn’t actually on Twitter), but I do my best.

    I’m also totally with you on the overloading the network thing. Twitter, like most online areas of discussion, is already a mish-mash. One of the first things you learn when you dive into the deep end of the pool is how to filter to find out what you need.

    Great post! I tweeted it (under the @UBCMET Twitter handle).

    Like

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