Technological change is outpacing our ability as a society to negotiate and agree upon acceptable behaviour sets for each new tool type. The mobile is a great example of this: Some of us think that it’s rude to sit in a cinema yapping away on your mobile, whilst others feel that it’s not only acceptable but also their right.
Where social media steals a march on mobile phones is that we can use the very tools we are discussing to negotiate what acceptable behaviour means. What is rude on a social network? What is expected on a wiki? And what is good etiquette for comments?
Justine Larbalestier has a great post outlining what people engaging in comment threads should do before plunging in, including:
- Read the entire post before commenting. Nothing is more annoying to a blogger than to have someone say “But why did you not mention French beanbags?” when you have just spent six paragraphs doing exactly that.
- Do not explode on to a comment thread in a whirl of fire and outrage. Particularly don’t do this if all the discourse up to that point has been calm and measured.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been online for so long, but it does seem to me that most of these are no-brainers, yet they still appear to be news to some! Will the day ever come where online etiquette is pervasive or are manners a thing of the past?