Wednesday, February 3, 2010

RANT ALERT: New Rules for Avatars on Social Networks

This is not directed at anyone personally, but rather a laundry list of social network behavior that gets on my nerves. And I think I've been guilty of each one of these from time to time:

  • Stop whining about Social Networks and Virtual Worlds like they owe you something beyond their ToS and applicable laws. They are private companies, not public institutions. They get to write the rules posted on the playground because they own it. They have the right to add, modify or delete any features they want at anytime. They are entitled to insist upon identity validation, credit card authorization or whatever other information they decide is mandatory for participation. You have the right to game the system and they have the right to kick your digital ass out if they catch you. 
  • If you do have an absolutely uncontrollable urge to vent, save it for your blog if you can't do it in less than 140 characters. Or at least space out your posts so they don't hog the stream. The only time you should see your avatar's face more than a few times on a single pageview is if you are sharing a series of links that you feel is of very high value to your followers. 
  • Unless you limit your social network to mostly close friends and family members, lay off the mundane posts about what you're having for lunch, which song you're listening to, or what cute activity your pet is up to (unless you're Crap Mariner who gets a feline waiver). Before you hit send, ask yourself what your social network stream would look like if half of those you follow posted the type of information you are about to share.
  • Whoever came up with the idea of live-tweeting an event with dozens of posts should be punished by being forced to read the last year of Prokofy's blog posts and comments in one marathon session. Until there's a way to mute a hashtag on all Twitter clients, it's just plain rude to flood the stream with your play by play. Instead, create a new identity and let those who are interested follow it.
  • Read your last fifty posts and ask yourself if you'd be interested in following the person who wrote them. If you'd bore yourself, you're probably boring everyone else. 
  • Put your lazy-ass finger to work and check out links before you retweet them. Don't send us to a second link we need to click to get to the mentioned content (like a Digg headline or Plurk post). And don't send us to some lame article with a good headline that you didn't bother to review before regurgitating.
  • Don't thank people publicly every time they retweet your posts. I understand that this may seem like the polite thing to do. But if you want to offer thanks send a DM so you don't add something to the stream that offers no value to anyone but the two of you. Hopefully the reason someone retweets your post is because they think it contains something their followers would find interesting, not because they are doing you a favor. If anyone deserves thanks, it is the people who actually post something that is good enough be worth retweeting,
  • Stop posting long lists of people to follow on Follow Friday.  Twitter's new list function gives you a great way to list the people you think are worth following in categories of interest. 
  • If someone blocks you, it's probably because you're a narcissistic jerk, not because they can't handle your overwhelming wit and scathing, insightful commentary. Okay, maybe this one is personally directed. 


R. said...

I get a Feline Waiver?

Since when did Feline Slade hand out waivers?


Lalo Telling said...

Hey... I'm a feline. Don't I get a waiver, too?

Ari Blackthorne™ said...


Botgirl Questi said...

Crap: I guess that sentence could have been clearer, but then it wouldn't have made room for your joke. :)

Lalo: Of course you do!

Ari: Thanks. Hoping no hammers will now be directed at my virtual head. At least I owned up to being in the glass house I was throwing bricks at.

Dusty Artaud said...

Botgirl, in agreement with all but the live-tweeting of an event - I have found it very effective in a Plurk-like professional way, and I would not want to create a separate identity for it. Filter for those not interested may be the solution and sure it is on the horizon somewhere in the Twitter developer world.

Also, if Crap gets a feline waiver, then I want a canine waiver.

Dale Innis said...

Wahahaha! People are of course free to do whatever they want. But if they break your rules alla time, I am free to stop following them...

iliveisl said...

point three was the purpose of twitter. to be mundane. you would not call your friends or blog that you are stuck in the airport. yet that's an awesome story told by the Zappo's CEO in which he met a big client while delayed and did more biz cuz of a tweet

Lee & Sachi explain it the best:

Botgirl Questi said...

Dusty: I totally see the value of live-tweeting to those who are interested in an event. But posting dozens of tweets in the space of an hour or two when the vast majority of your followers are probably NOT interested seems rude to me.

iliveisl: My negative view of tweeting "mundane" activity is based on what I see as respect for my followers' attention space. I try to *mostly* make posts which I believe will be of interest to my "typical" follower.

It's true that Twitter was originally created as a place for friends, family and colleagues to share what they are doing...mundane stuff. But today, Twitter circles are mostly people who share common interests, not personal relationships. I created a little comic on the subject a while back: Botgirl's Guide to Social Sharing Etiquette.

Unknown said...

"If someone blocks you, it's probably because you're a narcissistic jerk, not because they can't handle your overwhelming wit and scathing, insightful commentary" im not a big blog commenter but that is just a classic line !!

sororNishi said...

Altho.....I kinda like this comment...(Simon Hills-Johnes)..."Extending unnecessary communication is the 21st century goal."

Lalo Telling said...

With all of the random "uniting" going on at Avatars United, and the quantity vs quality issue, I've been thinking about signal-to-noise ratio, which I first came across in relation to radio astronomy, and especially SETI.

If Mr Hills-Johnes is correct, we each will have to act as our own filters, separating the signals from the noise in our Search for Terrestrial Intelligence.

Ari Blackthorne™ said...


Same garbage I got over at Facebook when I created an Ari account there. What a ridiculous, frivolous exercise in totally and uncompromisable futility.

I have official decided that Facebook is a complete laughable joke of the most high.

I created two accounts on AU - one for Ari and one for an ancient alt that hasn't been in-world except maybe once in the last year: same thing. Spammed with "Unite" requests.


Dale Innis said...

"But today, Twitter circles are mostly people who share common interests, not personal relationship."

Really?? This seems implausible to me. I mean, it may well be true of your Twitter circles, and most of the people in them, but from looking at Twitter as a whole (dive into the "worldwide trending topics this instant" for instance), my impression is that most Twitter circles are personal friends, not intellectual colleagues.

Any evidence to the contrary would be of great interest. :)

Botgirl Questi said...

Dale: As of last July, the average twitter user had 126 followers, which is right in the realm of Dunbar's Number.

So my "most users" should have been "many of the people whom I follow". But my point certainly applies to those of us with many hundreds or even thousands of followers.

Of course, if anyone doesn't care for your posts, they are free to unfollow. I labeled the post rant, because there was a lot more emotionally drenched language included than was justified by the bare ideas. :)

iliveisl said...

i would disagree that twitter is mostly one or the other. many people use it as intended. it does get bogged down with massive branding stuff though, but as to which it "should" be, well enough rules, TOS, and "avengers" dictating online stuff anyway

while mine twitter, that people know here, is all about an avatar, it rarely ever promoted land sales (our actual purpose for it) and simply became much like your is, to share ideas, and blog posts with anyone interested

my "personal" one is just chirps out to my circle of friends and family and mainly about poutine, martinis, and going out and about in town =)