A Proposed Social Media Deontology.

By | 6 February 2009

Article 1. I shall take interest in the projects of others before my own. In this capacity, I will pay attention to what others are doing and see how I may help them bring those projects to fruition

Article 2. I shall Participate as actively as possible in as many discussions as possible. That is to say that I will make sure to get to know the audience that is listening to me. This may include answering any and all tweets, commenting on blog posts and more

Article3. Each person shall be treated equally. The more time I offer to an individual the more time I want it to be reciprocated. If I offer to help you with your projects then the least you can do is answer my tweets, comments, and more. That is to say that I shall demonstrate that I do respect the person whom I am conversing with

Article 4. I shall not promote my work at the detriment of being social. I shall promote what I have done once for every ten comments, tweets, or blog posts I have written. In so doing I make sure that the toxicity of repetition is not too severe for those following me. This takes into consideration that whilst some people may use the aforementioned social network for just ten minutes a day three times a week others may use it all day long. As a result, I will respect the more frequent users of the social websites.

Article 5. The rule of participation. This is the rule that if I go to an event for a certain website I must have spent a certain number of hours being active on the website. Social networks are to be thought of as skiing levels with degrees of achievement. If you are new to a social network realise that when used properly the social network may be thought of as a way of life. In particular, this means that if you go to a blogger event make sure that you have read a few blog posts before coming to the event. If you come to a Seesmeetup make sure that you are with someone who has been an active participant. If you come to a tweetup don’t sign up three days before with no understanding of what the site is about.

Article 6. The attention rule. Never post to a service you are not actively monitoring. If you post to Jaiku then make sure you keep an eye on what people are doing. If you use Ping.fm and other services make sure that you have a way of being alerted when someone comments. This is because social media is about sharing. If a person responds too frequently with no acknowledgment of what they are saying then the “social” aspect of social media is devalued. In those cases, you might as well be following an RSS feed in Google reader.

Article 7. The unfollow privilege. When a social media participant feels a decline in his enjoyment of service due to how newer members are using the site then he reserves and even has the obligation to unfollow the offending party. Attention in social media is a privilege, not a right, anytime you broadcast rather than participate we reserve the right to unfollow you. This is not un-doable. If your participation changes then we may follow you back.

This was written as a result of how disappointed I am with certain people and how they use twitter. If you feel that anything should be changed then let me know. It’s meant to be dynamic.

7 thoughts on “A Proposed Social Media Deontology.

  1. Jub

    I think the most important point is the one you make in article 7.

    I am happy for anyone to use twitter and any other micro-blogging service for self-promoting. Frankly, that's their choice, and I can choose to not follow back.

    But then, they have totally missed the point of it, and will have a hard time maintaining a good level of followers unless the content they share is of a superior quality.

  2. mcwflint

    I wish more folks would write up a post like this, explaining their feelings/stances.
    I wish more folks did what you suggest in #6 and believe #7 is just.

  3. warzabidul

    Hehe, but they don't care. They have twenty five better things to do than actually think about the medium they're trying to get people to use.

    I don't see you that often on twitter at the moment..

  4. warzabidul

    About 5 million people use the website from what I've heard, but out of those people I'm sure there are people you know already that might be using it, Could start by following them and seeing how they use it.

  5. jacklhasa

    I think this is a great outline for the way social media sites should be used in general. You've put together here, something that I feel like a hundred or so of us should sign, and declare a declaration of social net.

  6. Drew Sams

    Richard, I appreciate you laying this out. Article 3 and 4 really stuck out to me. Treating each person equally goes so against human nature that when you are intentional about doing it, there are widespread ramifications because people notice. What you are doing is seeing people for who they are, not as a tool to advance your agenda. This leads into #4 where you are striving to not promote your work at the detriment of being social. Again, as social networks evolve this will be an ever needed quality among its users or else they will digress into marketplaces where ideas are broadcasted but never sharpened and where products are hawked but never given feedback. Great stuff for me to incorporate as well! Cheers.

  7. warzabidul

    From what I see you're working on some community building too. You've got 25 within 5 months. I'm not sure about the details but I see you're experimenting with live blogging and community building for a particular group of people.

    Community building is one of the hardest things to do online. It's one of those things you have to cherish because without that active community your website or project does fall to the side. We've seen a few projects fail over the years.


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