Internet étiquette: has its time come?

As I sit here looking at this screaming blank space in my editorial calendar, once again, knowing full well that up to the 11th hour my promised guest post will not arrive, yet again, for the umpteenth time… I find myself thinking about internet etiquette.

Is there such a thing? And if not, perhaps it’s time to define one…?

It’s not just about being a bad guest blogger, although Heather Lloyd-Martin’s words on the matter of being a no-show are most appropriate for my current situation:

“The “deadline, what deadline” guest blogger This is the scariest type of blogger. This person promises “Yes, I’ll have your post by noon on Friday.” When noon on Friday rolls around, this same blogger is surprised that the blog editor is upset that there’s no post – and a big hole in her editorial calendar. If you’ve promised a blog post by X, treat it like you would treat a client gig and don’t miss the deadline. Remember, the industry is small – and people do talk. Missing deadlines is a sure way to mess up a valuable connection.”

No, it’s far more than that. It’s about being respectful and accountable to your community, whatever that community may be.

Offline, it could be your car pool or your neighborhood watch group. In this real world, you wouldn’t just blow off the group of people who share in your commute and watch your home in your absence, would you? No. Because you need them and depend upon them as much as they do you.

Online, your community may be freelancers and SEO copywriters, small business owners like yourself, or any number of Web groups. And again, you need them and depend upon them as much as they do you.

It seems to me that with the once-removed distance intrinsic to the virtual world, it’s just too easy to do just that – blow people off, forget about community, deny responsibility, and/or otherwise be a jerk:

jerk 1 |j?rk| noun 2 informal a contemptibly obnoxious person.

Okay, maybe “jerk” is too strong…how about just drastically selfish:

selfish |?selfiSH|adjective (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure: I joined them for selfish reasons.

Ah, most appropriate, the example: “I joined them for selfish reasons.”

I think this speaks to the heart of the matter, as far as internet etiquette – or lack thereof – is concerned.

If you’d indulge me, I’d like you to join me in considering these questions:

  • Did you join a community on the internet for strictly selfish reasons (e.g.,resume, PR)?
  • Are you guilty of not giving back to or honestly engaging with an online community?
  • Did you join that LinkedIn group just so it shows on your profile?
  • Do you really give a rat’s ass about that Facebook group? How have you contributed?
  • When’s the last time that you took the time to give genuine feedback on a post? (And by this, I mean feedback that means something – like you actually took a few minutes to read the post.)
  • Have you bothered to pause and thank that “nobody” who has faithfully tweeted and re-tweeted your posts? Ever?

If you’re still with me, I think you get my point, which is what is the point of all this crazed sharing and tweeting and klouting and plusing and liking and stumbling and digging and guest posting if it is ultimately only self-serving?

If not genuine, then it seems to me that all of this social networking must be some sort of a mass psychosis/narcissism: If no one is really interested in anything but their own social reflection, then it seems we’ve all been duped in a truly insidious way…

Or, far less dramatically, maybe we all just need to complete a “finishing school” of sorts to be honorable denizens of the web?

What say you? I’d love to truly hear your honest thoughts, assuming that you’ve actually read this post. :)


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photo thanks to glans galore