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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Online Etiquette: Facebook

Oh irony of ironies. Right now, in an attempt to try to be more polite to everyone on Facebook, I will offend people on Facebook. I wonder if this is how Miss Manners felt when she published her first edition, knowing that the Salad-fork group would forever brand her a heretic? Alas, some things must be done for the greater good.

Joking aside (mostly), I think we need to develop some general rules for being polite to each other online. It seems that the standard view is: "It's my profile, I'll post whatever I want, you don't have to like it."

But what if we lived that way in real life?

"It's my house, I'll wear whatever I want, you don't have to come over."

"It's my cubicle, I'll tell whatever jokes I want, you don't have to listen."

"It's my car, I'll drive it wherever I want, you don't have to stand in the way."

We live by some rules; a few, small tidbits of etiquette help to keep our society from falling apart. More than that, those rules help us to develop friendships that can survive differences of opinion and preference. Because we don't take the attitude that our own desires are more important than the desires of other people. But for some reason that's all reversed on Facebook.

The one rule that we need to have on Facebook is the rule we need to live by in every situation: treat others the way that you want to be treated.

That covers a multitude of situations, but it does keep things focused on you and your opinion. So as I think of the rules that I would want codified for Facebook etiquette, I'm thinking about what annoys me or makes me happy online. I'm not thinking about the things that I do that annoy other people. I need to hear from others what rules they want so I can treat people the way that they want to be treated.

(My) Suggestions for Facebook Etiquette:

  • Post no more than twice a day
    • Keep posts about specialized topics to a minimum (sports, TV shows, children, etc.)
    • Comment on your own previous post if you have more to say about a topic, especially about a TV show or sporting event. 
  • Have your profile picture show your face
  • Post primarily original thoughts and content
    • Avoid "Copy and Paste" statuses
    • Keep links, videos, etc. to a minimum
  • Don't allow your various applications to post to your profile (e.g. Spotify, eBay, YouTube), especially if you are working with the app a lot
  • Avoid spamming people with your events and causes, one or two updates is fine, but twice a day every day for a month is excessive.
  • Only invite people to your events if there's a remote possibility that they can attend
    • Take the time to go through your friends list and select the people to invite. Don't use the "Select All" button. 
  • Don't post spoilers to TV, movies or books. C'mon, just don't do it. 
  • If you link your Twitter and Facebook, don't use at-replies or hash-tags.
What did I miss? What am I totally wrong about? How have I offended you?