Etiquette + Pirates

I have always believed that good manners allow you to go anywhere.   Have you ever been to a party where one person has to dominate the conversation and no matter what the prior subject the new subject of the conversation is them?  I always thought they needed some manners.  It’s one thing to add to the overall conversation with salient points or even an opposing point of view and quite another to turn the conversation into an ego fest of self promotion.

pirate rock

Good manners dictate that just about the rudest thing one can do is to point out someone else’s rudeness in public so I won’t be wagging my finger in anyone’s virtual face here, however, there are some in my small part of the design community who turn their comments on blogs and Facebook fan pages into forums for their own overt self promotion.  Here’s a great link to 5 simple rules for blogging from Blogging Basics 101 — pay particular attention to rule No. 4.

Social media, including blogging, offers everyone a voice in the larger conversation–and it is a two way conversation.  When I first started learning about how to create a social media presence everyone I communicated with offered these basic rules:

  1. Be authentic
  2. Share information freely and be a giving part of the community
  3. Participate in online conversations via comments and ask questions
  4. Offer your expertise in a way that will enhance the conversation
  5. If you are promoting a product or yourself – do so within the context of everything else above – promotion via social media is more organic and viral rather than traditional in your face advertising and marketing

For the past year, I have worked very hard to follow those rules and I have had wonderful experiences and have gained opportunities that I might not have been given elsewhere.  For my own part, I try to answer blog comments here and to participate elsewhere adding to to and enriching the conversations in ways that stay on or add to a topic. One of the main components of a successful blog or Facebook fan page or even Twitter stream are the readers/fans and their comments. But…

Apparently there are those, who looking from the outside in believe that they can ride along without putting the work in…they hijack conversations, blog comments, and Facebook posts like pirates capturing a ship.  They use others’ carefully developed and considered ideas as platforms to overtly gain a larger presence for themselves.   How sad that they feel that their own on topic contributions have so little value that they have to scream their accomplishments from someone else’s crow’s nest.

With that said, there will be some here who will say I am making much ado about nothing or that what I am objecting to is actually part of the social media process.  What I say is yes,  your comments and opinions are welcome–keep them coming!  Add your voice whereever and whenever you please…just realize that you are indeed promoting yourself subtly every time you comment unless you are commenting  anonymously.  It just isn’t cool when someone has  the poor manners to believe that it is okay to hijack comments and ideas for their own self promotion using someone else’s platform–that’s just rude.

10 thoughts on “Etiquette + Pirates

  1. If you are targeting feed scrapers I definitely can sympathize. They seem to be getting really active lately. Over the last 3 months my blog has been stolen by 4 separate feed scraper sites.

    Although I recognize the problem of stolen content, I’m talking about something just as insidious. Individuals who constantly turn the dialog around to themselves via comments on blogs, FB and Twitter among others.–S

  2. Susan – Self-promotion, especially without adding genuine input to the conversation in progress, sometimes makes me want to run screaming from the whole social media thing. Luckily, unlike with real pirates, if your readers have their eyes open, they can choose not to be hijacked! As this medium expands, so does our capacity to detect “fishy” information (whether with a “ph-” or a “pee-eew!”)

    As in a RL community, if you spend time in an on-line community, you learn who the real leaders are — not the ones who talk a lot, but the ones (like yourself) who humbly do most of the work, and whose occasional comments make everyone else think and act.

    There’s nothing wrong with marketing and promoting yourself, but just realize whose platform you’re using to do it and respect that. There are some people who, no matter where they post, manage to use others’ ideas, thoughts and comments to promote themselves ALL THE TIME. If I didn’t want to have a dialog, I wouldn’t post a blog or Tweet or have a FB page–I’d keep a private journal. Even with that, I take time to read and comment on other’s platforms, but I make very sure I’m adding to the dialog they started…not taking it over for my own self promotion…and no I don’t comment anonymously.–S

  3. I’m afraid I did recently leave a comment on one of your blogs with a link to a blog post of my own (hence violating rule 4) – my defence is that it WAS on the subject, and I felt added something. Having read the “Blogging Basics 101” piece, I can see maybe I should have done this differently – my apologies, I am a sinner! (I think it’s my first transgression, and I’ll try to behave in future.)

    It’s not inappropriate to leave a link in context. You’ve never left a comment here before. I RT’d your Vectorworks piece and link last week on Twitter though…

  4. I’m tempted to yell what a co-worker used to say all the time—People are no damn good! But I don’t really believe that. I do believe that no matter where we go, there will be those who are more compassionate, less self-centered and genuine than some of the others we encounter. And that I can only strive to behave as I’d hope others will.

    Thanks for the thoughtful topic. peace & love

    Thanks Patty. I agree with you about hope and compassion and being genuine. It’s just that sometimes I get a bit irritated with people who promote, promote and then use others to promote some more. It’s just poor manners.

  5. It goes beyond simple etiquette and speaks more to one’s core ethical behavior. As social media evolves, it becomes clearer to me that some believe that it is their planet and the rest of us are all just entertainers, visitors or consumers. Under the rubric of a “community”, many reach out and link – but few are able to actually converse and share – without actually listening or even acknowledging the insight and, yes, wisdom of others. Perhaps it’s just part of the evolution of the new media. Or perhaps it’s just another sign of the downward spiral of things that matter.

    Well said. I constantly hope that the ‘things that matter’ still do…on a daily basis.

  6. I love this post and agree wholeheartedly with it! It drives me CRAZY when someone leaves a comment with a link to their site, saying “here’s something about me to read”….when there’s nothing relevant in the post! Like Carolyn (above) said…makes me want to run screaming from the whole social media thing. Luckily, I think most people recognize what those lame commenters are doing and don’t even click on their link. At least, that’s what I’m hoping….

    Thanks! I think a link in context is fine, but just to drive traffic not so much.

  7. This came up on Twitter a month or so ago after someone kept going around mentioning their book in other people’s status updates on Facebook and others were link dropping latest projects on blog comments.

    It is kind of funny when people do that. I wonder if they’d allow someone into their home for dinner who would only talk about their their book/website/tv show.

    If they were included at a dinner party someone would definitely say something–probably indirectly but loud enough to be overheard…that’s just as rude as confrontation and not half as brave!–S

  8. I recently had a run in on Twitter with a garden center who was retweeting my tweets just so they could add a link to their store as if I had written it. When I called them on their behavior they not only suggested that I come up with a better way to promote them but demanded I link to their blog to make them stop. Honestly how much good will do they think that will build.
    The nice part about running into the socially impaired online is that it is much easier to ignore than in real life.

    Oh, my, that’s really rude. But, you are also right that it’s easy to ignore. You could also block them.–S

  9. This post obviously struck a nerve with many, but it’s making me feel pretty dense. Although I HAVE noticed the author-leaving-comment-to-promote-book phenom, which really just makes me laugh, I haven’t really noticed comment or tweet hijacking. Am I just lucky or oblivious?

    You’re probably just lucky. I specifically talking about people who use comments, tweets, facebook pages, etc. to promote themselves, their product, their book, their site, their whatever directly and do business by hijacking someone else’s platform. It’s okay to say ‘Hey I wrote about that too….’ it’s also, as recently happened okay to use your own platform to join in on the conversation and link back to the original…

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