Monday, 19 January 2009

Web 2.0 Netiquette - My take on the matter,,,

On Twitter and over at his posterous blog, Liam's been asking the question - "If we were to re-write Netiquette for Web 2.0 what would it be?". Thought this was interesting and a good excuse for a post here!

First thing that occurred to me was that Netiquette is a highly nebulous concept at the best of times, both in the specifics and at a high level. For example, what's acceptable on the 4chan /b/ board would be wildly inappropriate for a comment on an internal corporate blog. It's always been hard to pin down exactly what consitutes the rules for good netiquette, and Web 2.0 has only made this harder!

However, I'm going to avoid the temptation to write a lengthy discourse on this and just put down my list of good web - whether 1.0, 2.0, or x.0 - behaviours. Please feel free to jump in with your own suggestions, or add them back to Liam's original post...

1) Don't be an idiot. Many people seem to suffer from a disturbing tendency to lose any semblence of rationality or decency when interacting with others online. Don't do this. OK, so you don't have to act like you were talking to your mother, but at least show the level of respect you'd give to a stranger you were chatting to in a bar.

2) Attack the argument, not the person. It's easy to cop out of actually answering points in a discussion by ignoring them and attacking their proponent - it must be, as politicians do it all the time. Show you're better than that, and if you can't adress the point in hand, stay quiet. This is sometimes hard when you're the target for personal attacks, but sinking to their level rarely ends well.

3) Blend in. You wouldn't go into a pub and expect to jump straight into a conversation with the bunch of regulars at the bar - yet this is what many people seem to try and do online. Wait for a while, read through the archives, lurk. That way you'll get a better idea of what people expect and won't sound like such a clueless n00b when you do write that first post.

4) Respect private correspondence. This could be controversial, but I believe that if someone emails, IMs or PMs me, they want to communicate privately. I don't believe that it's fair or right to then repeat that correspondence in a public forum, unless the sender has given permission. Posting the contents of an email in public tends to make you look bad, not the sender of the email.

(Caveat - That last one can IMO be excepted for official and impersonal correspondence from public figures, government or companies.)

I probably could go on, but that'll do for now. What I've just realised is that there's very little there that's specific to web 2.0 - it's all pretty recognisable from Usenet days. Does this matter? No, I don't think so. Basically, it all seems to be about how you interact with other people. Whether this is via Twitter, blogs or face-to-face, it's always a good idea to be nice, engage your brain and pause before you post.

So apologies Liam - not sure I've really answered the question you were asking! But it's my thoughts on the matter anyway, and as always would welcome anyone else's input...

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