Home » Social Media Etiquette, Social Sense and Sensibility, video

Online Etiquette Versus Offline Etiquette

Submitted by on October 23, 2009 – 12:59 pm6 Comments

So this is a hard question to distill into two minutes. “Is there a difference between online versus offline etiquette?” The answer is obviously yes. I have met a few trolls in real life and found them to be engaging and polite – often soft spoken. I would give the horrid commenters on YouTube the benefit of the doubt as well.
However the video series is aimed at giving people in business advice on how to behave so I took the answer from that perspective.

Transcript:
I read this question as, “what are the differences between online and offline social etiquette”
Ideally, none. In an ideal world – and my personal rule-of-thumb – you would behave online as though you were sitting at a table with your best friend, your boss and your mom. It takes a lot of the juicy bits off the table but do you really want to publish those pieces to the world? I don’t think so. Here are a few tips to keep you out of trouble online and off…

  • Use your real identity – no one appreciates an imposter
  • Listen and understand the context before you jump in
  • Be Nice – sounds silly but just as in real life – it goes a long way
  • Disclose any conflicts of interest or paid relationships up front
  • Know your facts: argue for ideas and back them up. Never succumb to personality arguments
  • Finally, Don’t Lie – This one sounds so simple but it is disarmingly hard in online business…What was considered acceptable business tactics in another generation, such as creating a front group to represent your opinions – Working Families for Walmart – being a textbook case – Is tantamount to lying when using a social technology like a blog – and no one takes kindly to lying.

The Social Web is about people – not technology – and as with any social grouping, etiquette are the tacit rules that keep everyone in check. So while the word etiquette sounds trivial – it is a critical success factor in approaching the Social Web.

6 Comments »

  • hastingshart says:

    Regarding using your real identity: About a year ago I adopted a policy that whenever I left a comment anywhere on the web, I would put my name and home town at the end of the comment — even with political opinions. I did it mostly because it made me feel better as a writer to stand behind everything I write.

    It made me a little nervous at first, but I noticed that subsequent responses to my comments became much more respectful after I adopted this policy. I've never been called a Nazi since adopting this policy, even though I've posted some relatively angry (but still thoughtful) comments at times.

    Obviously, if you live in a place where political violence is present, this would not be wise. But otherwise, imagine how much better web etiquette would be if everybody did this.

    Hastings Hart
    Oakland, Calif.

  • joshuamross says:

    Fascinating. I think that is a great notion. Much of the “YouTube phenomenon” (shorthand for a comment-culture centered around invective and abuse) has to do with (1) an absence of moderation and sense-of-place on YouTube – it is a free-for-all and (2) an absence of real identity – the opinions are quite separate from any notion of who is speaking – people use aliases that have no relation to their name.
    When you sign off with a location it is a cue that you are a real person writing from a real place. I would add that even when you are committed to your opinion, if you do it with a certain amount of respect and link to the sources of your argument for support – you are acting to keep a healthy comment-culture going.
    Thanks,
    J

  • joshuamross says:

    I also wanted to mention the idea of avatars – people respond to faces. Faces are a totally underutilized asset within many communities. See this post from Dave McLure http://500hats.typepad.com/500blogs/2009/05/the… (warning – Dave is renowned for speaking his mind – including some pretty adult language)

  • hastingshart says:

    Regarding using your real identity: About a year ago I adopted a policy that whenever I left a comment anywhere on the web, I would put my name and home town at the end of the comment — even with political opinions. I did it mostly because it made me feel better as a writer to stand behind everything I write.

    It made me a little nervous at first, but I noticed that subsequent responses to my comments became much more respectful after I adopted this policy. I've never been called a Nazi since adopting this policy, even though I've posted some relatively angry (but still thoughtful) comments at times.

    Obviously, if you live in a place where political violence is present, this would not be wise. But otherwise, imagine how much better web etiquette would be if everybody did this.

    Hastings Hart
    Oakland, Calif.

  • joshuamross says:

    Fascinating. I think that is a great notion. Much of the “YouTube phenomenon” (shorthand for a comment-culture centered around invective and abuse) has to do with (1) an absence of moderation and sense-of-place on YouTube – it is a free-for-all and (2) an absence of real identity – the opinions are quite separate from any notion of who is speaking – people use aliases that have no relation to their name.
    When you sign off with a location it is a cue that you are a real person writing from a real place. I would add that even when you are committed to your opinion, if you do it with a certain amount of respect and link to the sources of your argument for support – you are acting to keep a healthy comment-culture going.
    Thanks,
    J
    Oakland, CA

  • joshuamross says:

    I also wanted to mention the idea of avatars – people respond to faces. Faces are a totally underutilized asset within many communities. See this post from Dave McLure http://500hats.typepad.com/500blogs/2009/05/the… (warning – Dave is renowned for speaking his mind – including some pretty adult language)

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