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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Online Cultures and Offline Behaviors 7 & 8 - Online Manners and References

Part 7 - Online Manners

Here are some of my personal tips concerning online and offline behavior.

1. Accepting complimentary food and drinks from a restaurant is fairly common for a variety of reasons including birthdays, replacing another dish, extra long wait times, etc.  However, I personally feel that one should never ask for complimentary food simply because he or she blogs or tweets.  Stating "I am a blogger, writer, reviewer, and therefore I want free food and drink" is in poor form.  Tweeting that you should receive free food, drinks, and other goods is just wrong in my opinion.  This is how some restaurant owners might feel about asking for free food and drinks.  Anyone can write a blog on the Internet.  Having a blog doesn't make a person special or deserving of complimentary treatment.  If you are respected and known for your writing and your opinions, the staff will recognize you and compensate you as they please.  Keep in mind that individuals who are well-known for their influence in media all started out somewhere.  Most of them pay for their meals despite what the public might think. 

2. When posting reviews or information online, be thoughtful and careful, whether the information is positive or negative.  Remember, telling your friends that you had a bad experience is not the same as posting it online.  Everyone can read it online, which can hurt feelings or make business owners very angry.  My personal rule of thumb is that I will let the restaurant know that I am having a poor experience while I'm there.  If the restaurant tries to fix the problem, I'm happy with that.  If the restaurant doesn't try to fix the situation, I feel that it is fair for me to post my experience if I decide to post at all.  Before I post a negative review, I have several people proof read it to make sure that the post is fair and the restaurant had adequate opportunities to fix the issues.  If the experience was positive, I will focus on the positive points and mention the minor issues if there were any.  If I thought the food was mediocre, I don't post that it was fabulous.  Accurately conveying my experiences is important to me.  Writing that every single restaurant was just a fantastic five star experience might cause others to start questioning my integrity, sense of smell, and taste buds.

3. Promoting events should be given careful thought.  If the event clearly requires an RSVP or tickets, it is to everyone's advantage to make that blatantly clear.  No one wants to show up to an event to discover that tickets cost a small fortune or that it is not open to non-members.  If you would like to attend an event out of your price range, you might volunteer at the event, which frequently comes with perks.  Check out my navigating food festivals post.

On the other hand, businesses often host free events to celebrate with their customers and to bring in new customers.  I'm not in the market to buy a new or expensive vehicle.  If a local Porsche dealership is throwing a party to celebrate a new model, I'm probably not going to attend.  The effort and funds that the Porsche dealership is investing into the party isn't targeted for non-customers.  Be mindful of businesses before advertising all events as free and open to the public.  The party may be free for attendees, but  the business is the one footing the bill.  I ask business owners first if it is okay to promote their event on my blog or twitter.  Also, keep in mind that free food and drinks brings out everyone in town.  Free food and drink events will be crowded and busy.  Enjoying a free party is a privilege, not a right.  Don't get angry if you happen to miss the free food and drink.  If you are vending at an event, it is to everyone's benefit to ask how the event will be advertised, how many people the organizers are expecting, and how tickets for the event will be distributed. Dos Equis learned this the hard way.

4. Burning bridges when you might need them the most.  Online communities are just as real as offline communities.  If you own an Italian restaurant, it would be wise to be friends with other Italian restaurant owners.  I'm not saying that you should be best buds and spend every waking moment together.  But you ought not write unflattering things about them online.  I once tweeted a positive comment about a yogurt shop I frequented.  30 seconds later, a gelato shop tweeted how yogurt in general was a terrible product.  I was put off by the gelato shop's behavior, and I don't intend on patronizing a business with such an attitude. 

5. If you have socially unacceptable attitudes, you shouldn't broadcast them.  It's 2009, but there are still racists, sexists, and mean people in this world.  Those attitudes are socially unacceptable, and if you choose to post them publicly, you might not have many friends.  Two local DJs made that mistake, and there has been quite the buzz about it.  I'm not going to debate whether what was said was actually intended to be a racial comment.  Regardless, some listeners were offended.  I feel that I can pull a Delfina's pizza stunt in which the employees wore their negative reviews on a shirt, and I'm going to link to a racially insensitive post written about myself.  Since it is about me, I won't be hurting anyone else's feelings by using it.  I'd also like to mention that I am Asian, and the writer's husband also proceeded to make sexual arm gestures and hip gyrating moves during the interaction.  The two local DJs and the author of the blog post have committed a serious social blunder. 

6. Somethings are better kept private.  Posting personal information online might violate someone's trust in you, exploit someone's privacy, make others feel uncomfortable, tip off authorities and lead to your arrest (it's funny, just read it), or create problems in the work place.  In browsing through the previous blog when adding it to this article as an example, I found the content to be quite inappropriate in social media.  There are support groups for depression and other mental illnesses.  Posting information about personal marriage problems, drug dependency, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder along with identifying photos and information is not a good idea.  This would make online and offline interactions with either person in this couple awkward to say the least.  I feel awkward reading it.  Social media outlets should not be used as a support group.  It is better to find a support group that also uses social media for healing.  There are also websites like FmyLife and PostSecret to vent those private feelings.

7. It is perfectly normal and accepted to disagree with others online.  However, disagreements can be handled with tact.  Unless you do want some major attention, fighting online probably isn't a good idea.  Fighting in offline doesn't accomplish much either. 

Also, please read this post written by another Austinite (not related to my incident either).  Tweeps, don't be mean.  Twitter users are real people with real feelings.  Now that online interactions intersect with real lives, think twice before hitting send.  

Part 8 - References and Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Chris Lamprecht for consulting on the history of online culture. A very big thank you to John Knox, Michelle Cheng, Armando Rayo, Jillian A. Lee-Wiggins, Ricardo Guerrero, and Chris Apollo Lynn for their valuable comments and insight on this article. Also, big thanks to Natanya Anderson, Oscar Davila, Tolly Moseley, and David Neff for their support.

How to live your life, Lessons from Randy Pausch -

How to build and online community -

Newsgroups -

Twitter and Human Evolution -

How to say Thank You on the internet:

Less online, more offline -
What not to blog -

Keeping your bodily functions off the Internet -

The Whuffie Bank -

First impressions on the Internet -

Tweeters, mean people suck -

Wearing criticisms with pride 1 -

Wearing criticisms with pride 2 -

Destroying business relationships -

What's a single serving friend? -

RoadTwip -

Twitter manners 1 to 11 -

Don't post negative things about work on Facebook -

The real you on Facebook -

ThatKevinSmith Vs. SouthwestAir -

Don't demand free stuff -

Background checking your dates -

Delete your drunken photos before your interview -

Gary V's social media rules, wine not included -

Post Secret -

My dog is totally awesome -

Stop Cyberbullying -

Angry business owners get violent -

Stanford Prison Study -

Social Psychology - Deindividuation -

The Ku Klux Klan -

Deindividuation and the KKK -

On the Internet, no one knows that you're a dog -,_nobody_knows_you%27re_a_dog

Social Psychology - Confirmation Bias -

Ignoring problem behaviors -

Operant Conditioning -

Classical Condtioning -

Social Norms -

Social Psychology - Conformity -

Conformity Video (funny) -

Bazaarvoice white papers -

This site contains a plethora of data on bloggers and the state of the blogosphere-

Blogs are becoming main stream -

Fred Wilson has a microculture on his blog  -

I love numbers. I love graphs.  Here's some data on co-hort analysis -

More Twitter data -

Information travels fast via Twitter -

Old media evolving to stay alive -

Who's on twitter? -

Quantitative and Qualitative Data -

Three new social media articles worth a read -

Freedom of Speech on the internet -

In old media?  Here's how to evolve -

Word of Mouth Marketing -

Internet Trolls -

10 simple rules for Tweeting up -

Classroom Teaching Tips -

Social media, playing economics games, and accountability -

FTC and Blogging Ethics Articles 1-6 :

On building successful long-term relationships -

Follow this business twitter account -

Oxytocin, it's good for you (the hormone, not the drug) -

Watch what you say on the radio -

You're a tenured professor on wiki? -

Dos Equis blunder of a party -

This story is so Farkable -

Find missing kids -

Craft Brew wins this round -

.plan -

Mind-blowing social media stats -

Austin's online community newspaper -

Listservs -

FmyLife -

PostSecret - - -
Interesting additional reading articles:

Explaining cognitive surplus or why are we on the Internet -

Do you Foursquare? -

Retweet me -

I can't disclose everything everywhere:

Social Identities and forums: A Frame model:

Canidate 101: Do's and Don'ts:

Social Recruiting -

Don't fight on Twitter and murder afterwards -,0,7371262.story

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