Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Online Etiquette for Arts and Media Folk

Online Etiquette for Arts and Media Folk

The following tips are important to make the web a more useful and pleasant community place.

Important tips for Posters, Readers, and Moderators
By Deborah Paulino, moderator of online arts communities since 2001.
Yeay you've just discovered that you can post notices on online message
boards and discussion groups, that is so wow. Or you can't wait to
respond to these great notices. Or you've been posting for a while and
wondering why you are getting deleted or are not getting a response .
Or you are moderating said board and it is a bit confusing, annoying,
or weighing you down. The following tips are important to make the web
a more useful and pleasant community place.

Ok, let's start with posting notices:

1 Keep it related to the topic, even if is a commercial ad, don't post
insurance brokers or MLM's in an actors discussion, it sucks. There are
other boards with folks who want to know about MLM's. Find the boards
that suit your content and you will get a better response with less

2 Keep your content within age limits, if it doesn't have an over 18
warning don't post adult stuff there; as there are probably kids and
parents viewing and you may become the example whipping boy if the
authorities track your IP address. Help create a better internet.

3 Include the contact and location in the actual notice, if it is a job
state if it is paid or not. Why waste your valuable time answering
questions when you can put it in the notice? Don't assume the board is
all about your location or subject, it may say "San Fran Music" but
this is the world wide web, with the emphasis on "world wide".

4 If you are posting a resume to a resume library, post a professional
resume like any other job. Just because it is the arts doesn't mean you
can get away with "I wanna be a star give me my big break", that will
just get you ignored.

5 If it is a notice or article from another group or site include the
link to the notice on that site, or the full web address of the group.

6 If it is a commercial ad keep it short, on topic, sweet, and
descriptive, about 1 paragraph or so, no superlatives. If possible give
a discount to members of the site or group you are posting to.

7 Post only once per category or board, some boards take a while before
you see the message.

8 When posting images keep them under 64 k each, images must be clear
and professional looking. No fuzzy happy snaps or school photos. Even
if you are crew or renting out a room in your house, the industry is
all about professional presentation.

9 If the site has multiple categories and you have a call for multiple
categories, post a separate notice in each category for that category.
That way the right folk will see and understand your message.

10 If the site has a classifieds section as well as a discussion forum,
post your ad in the classifieds not the discussion forum.

11 If you are having a bad day, don't post a complaint notice. Your bad
day will be clouding your judgment and writing style. Wait till next
day or after, when you are safely in a good mood and your head is

12 If the board has different categories, check out each category and
read what type of notices are posted in each, then post your notice in
the appropriate category/s.

YOU ARE SHOUTING, it is also difficult to read.

14 A nice way to advertise is to write a useful article and post a very
short couple of lines about your business at the bottom.

Now for responding to notices:

1 Use the contact in the notice itself, don't contact the person posting
the notice unless there is no other contact in the notice.

2 Don't send attachments of any sort unless they are specifically
requested. Not everyone has microsoft word or excel, nor do they want
it. Put all text in the body of the email.

4 If sending or posting images keep them under 64 k each. Images must be
clear and professional looking. No fuzzy happy snaps or school photos.
The industry is all about professional presentation.

5 Send your response only once, any more than that is unsolicited spam.

6 Follow up with a friendly hello about a week later. Some folk are
really busy and sometimes welcome the reminder.

7 If it says no phone calls or drop offs it means no phone calls or drop
offs. What would you think of somebody who rocked up to your desk
demanding that you make them a star, on a busy day when your boss is
giving you grief about deadlines?

8 If you are having a bad day, don't respond. Your bad day will be
clouding your judgment and writing without you realizing it. Wait till
next day or after, when you are safely in a good mood and your head is

9 If posting a reply to a discussion, don't include the whole thread in
the email, only the title of the post you are responding too. Else
everyone gets huge long emails of stuff they have read before and can't
find the new notices.

Finally... for The Moderators:

1 If you can't be civil, don't reply.

2 Make instructions clear and on the front of your site or group.

3 Commercial ads are ok if within topic, like an ad for a resource for
actors and producers on an actors group. This makes your board valuable
for useful info.

4 Where possible have a classifieds section, and keep the discussion

5 Allow folks a links section so they can post their links, those links
make your board a valuable resource.

6 Read the help files and take the time learn how to configure and
manage your board before getting angry at folks. A stitch in time saves
nine, aka prevention is better than cure. Plus it saves you a whole heap
of angst and complaints.

7 Yes allow events, especially networking and industry events. Even if
it is from another city, somebody on your board may be from or going
there and want to read it. Plus it is good business sense to find out
what is going on outside of your sphere.

8 Learn to decipher genuine complaints about notices, most complaints
are just from folks having a bad hair day and need to *****. Don't ban
somebody unless they are posting completely off topic notices, like car
insurance to a street performers group, or porn to a kids dance group.

9 Speaking of porn, if your group or board has adult talent content,
like exotic dancers and models, put an over 18 warning on it. I know it
isn't all porn, but some folks just have to take the wrong idea to have
an excuse to *****, so best to have warnings.

10 More about porn, if it is a kids group and somebody is posting porn
stuff, immediately contact the company hosting the board or your site's
server with email and web site and where possible IP addresses. Even if
the message didn't get to the board. As moderators it is our
responsibility to keep our boards and our web safe for younger viewers.

11 If your group has files that are auto send, don't post more than one
file with the rules that are sent out to new members. More than one
gets ignored. Post a reminder email with rules and instructions every
now and then. Put the basics in a few words on the front of your site,

12 Write an article for your board every now and then, learn and write
about what you are building your community for.

13 Another great place, my new favorite, to start a discussion
http://gigslist.tribe.net you can post threaded discussions and photos
and connect with like other minded tribes.

14 If your board is weighing you down, it is costing too much, you can't
keep up with your day jobs, and/or your members keep asking questions on
how to use the board: Workout ways and write clear guidelines and
instructions so folks can find their own way around. Post this article
in your files that go to new members, and in your links section
(remember to included the author's info below).

15 If you have a board about an art form that has become a sport, like
juggling or acrobatics, be prepared to accept professional arts folk
posting notices on your board. Or else state that it is a sports board
and not an arts board on your front page and in your guidelines.

16 If a commercial ad is on topic and offers discounts to your readers,
put them and the discount details in your links list, or at the footer
of your notices. This makes it even more worthwhile for folks to sign
onto your board and keep reading, it is why news papers publish

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