A little bit about netiquette

May 28, 2011 § 2 Comments

The internet exposes you to a lot of people, and while most of it is fun, you do sometimes find yourself wondering why certain people exist on this lovely planet of ours. This list is, in no particular order, a collection of no-nos that I have accumulated over the past two years of internet activity. Now, I must admit that I was never a part of the A/S/L generation and so I probably am a little harsher than most people when it comes to what could be natural gaffes. I am sure that there must be ultra sensitive psychopaths like me out there, and so this is dedicated to all of you:

The 7 things I wish people on the Internet would be more mindful of:

1.  Respecting Anonymity: Some people like to be completely anonymous. Some people, like myself, prefer to be partially anonymous. Whatever it is, respect that. Some people have been very proud of themselves in their efforts to find out people’s identities. In my case, people have gone to great lengths to find out even my family background. This shows that you are very resourceful. So good for you. You know what else it shows? That you are a sick asshole with no regard for anyone’s privacy and someone with way too much time on your hands. That’s what you were aiming for, I hope.

2. Avoiding Public Displays of being privileged: So maybe someone doesn’t want to display their real name on twitter or blogger or whatever. Sometimes, however, they do meet people offline and obviously you become acquainted with the person’s real name. Sweet. Then, one day, this happens:

PersonIMetOffline: @MumbaiCentral Hey A, what’s happening?

Using someone’s real name may be abuse of privilege enough, but referring to the person by one initial is worse. You know how? One, you are creating a fake nickname for someone, which is really unnecessary. Two, you are obviously toying with other people, implying that you know someone personally, while others don’t, and you’re trying to keep them guessing by the use of the first initial nickname. You are of course working on the mistaken presumption that other people envy you for knowing another person’s real name. Don’t tell me I need to delve into what is so horribly wrong with this scenario.

Having said that, don’t refer to people who you meet in real life by their twitter handles. If you’ve forgotten their names, just move on.

3. Stop assuming that people who you’ve never met in real life will recognize you by your voice:

This really happened.

Someone passed on my number to another person on Twitter, hereinafter referred to as DB, “for some work”. Fine. One day, I’m just getting out of Court, and the phone rings.

Me: Hello?

DB: Hi!

Me: Who’s this?

DB: Hey, don’t you know who I am?

Me: Obviously not.

DB: Come on, guess na?

Me: Listen, I have no idea.

DB: Arre guess na? Take one guess no?

Me: Hey, guess what, I’m hanging up.

DB: Arre no no no…

4. Stop mistaking online comfort for physical comfort

It’s understood that the internet is full of psychos and that meeting someone offline is a bit of a leap of faith, and at the back of your mind you hope that the person won’t turn into an insane stalker.

Assuming that one is entitled to a hug on your first offline meeting is not a good step against this.

Men and women both please note.

5. Stop trying to force yourself into the Private Domain

“Follow me please,  I need to send you a DM”

“Can I have your email address please, too long for DM”

“Can I have your real email address please? I know this one is just for your blog”

Seriously guys. Take a hint.

6. Stop assuming every one is as publicity hungry as you are.

Some professionals on Twitter are prone to getting a lot of technical questions and most of them are willing to reply to those questions. Some people also use Twitter to look for work. However, not all of these people want to use Twitter to gain publicity because no one wants to be the douchebag who uses Twitter to gain publicity. For instance, no one wants to be known as the “Twitter Doctor” who diagnoses people on the basis of 140 characters. Professionals use Twitter as a venting space. So if you need a “byte” or an “opinion” for a Client of yours to be posted in the mainstream media, don’t assume everyone will jump at the opportunity. If they decline, leave it at that. You are not doing anyone a favour here and all you are achieving by trying to force yourself on others is becoming material for posts like this.

Your Client will be unhappy but at least you’ll have your dignity.

7. Intervening with relevant material:

There’s no privity of conversation on the internet, surely. But suppose you and a friend are talking about the Star Wars original Trilogy. You’re really engrossed in this conversation and suddenly a third person comes in and says “Oh man have you seen The Star Wars Holiday Special? It’s awesome!”. Now while both these movies may be part of the “Star Wars Universe”, you’re not going to make that connection. You’re just going to roll your eyes and say “whatever”. If you want to talk about the Star Wars Holiday Special, start the topic on your own, am sure someone will come and share your enthusiasm.


And we march on, towards the path of internet righteousness.

See also: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/twitter_stop


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