It’s that time of year again, where labor disputes begin charging up emotions and on more than a few occasions, those emotions come spilling out in blog comments and social media. At best, emotionally driven comments designed to lash out only serve to detract attention from any meaningful thoughts or observations contained in the comment and at worst, can tarnish the reputation of colleagues or fellow stakeholders.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with challenging ideas, crying foul, and standing up for what you believe in. But in order to be as effective as possible, it helps to keep some guidelines in mind.
Character assassination for the sake of character assassination is counterproductive.
Yes, you might be ticked off at a CEO, board member, or musician spokesperson for something s/he reportedly said or wrote but don’t post a comment which focuses solely on attacking character. Questioning professional competency is all fine and good but even that’s a fine line. In most cases, the only thing accomplished with a personal attack is the comment author comes across looking like a raving lunatic bent on some sort of White Whale hunt.
Cite your sources.
I can’t stress this one enough but if you are going to excerpt something attributed to an individual or group associated with a labor dispute then be sure to cite your source; newspaper, press statement, website, foundation study etc. At the bare minimum, this includes a link to the original material and at best you’ll include the source title, author, publication date, and link. For example: the 9/14/2011 edition of Adaptistration.com by Drew McManus; http://www.adaptistration.com/?p=9823.
Be firm, but civil.
Don’t disrespect another comment author for no other reason than you disagree with his/her opinions. Feel free to point out perceived errors in judgment, facts, thought process, etc. but avoid the temptation to attack an individual’s character for no other reason than disagreeing with their sentiment.
Don’t abuse the privilege of anonymity.
I maintain strong positions on the issue of anonymous comments; in short, I’m pro anon. At the same time, that doesn’t excuse anyone from abusing what still boils down to a privilege, not a right. Be sure to read the section below on how to properly leave an anonymous comment. Otherwise, if you’re sending something in just so I can read it, save yourself a step and visit the contact page.
Avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Culture Blog Commenting.
- Impatience. If you aren’t reading your comment aloud before hitting the “submit comment” button, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Moreover, when reading aloud, try to use some inflection that mirrors your intent. You might be amazed at how something might sound and if you find that you need the inflection to deliver your point, that’s a good indication that you should add more detail.
- Sarcasm. Comment threads are akin to having a conversation with a four year old that hasn’t quite figured out what sarcasm is all about. In short, they don’t get it and although we’re all adults, the print medium isn’t the best method for conveying sarcasm. So when in doubt, don’t use it.
- Self Promotion. There’s nothing wrong with including a link to one of your own posts or websites in your comment but make sure you’re adding value to the discussion and not using my blog for your benefit.
- Anger. Same basis as the original deadly sins but in blog format. When in doubt, save the comment, sleep on it, then make a decision.
- Trolling. In short, don’t be a putz on the internet just because you can. If you wouldn’t say what you’ve written to someone’s face, then it isn’t fit for publication. As a side note, I don’t mind strong language (we’re all adults) but not in the guise of trolling.
- All Caps. This is the equivalent of screaming at the top of your lungs and frankly, I can’t think of a single topic related to this business that requires such an extreme measure. Likewise, take it easy on the exclamation points.
- Being “That Guy.” Within the context of blog comments, “that guy” is the person who (inadvertently or not) simply won’t shut up and uses a steady stream of circular logic to single-handedly grind a good discussion into the ground and draw attention away from the main topic. You can also become “that guy” by engaging in multiple sins within a single comment.
In the end, I want to continue encouraging every reader to engage in comment discussions related to labor disputes but following the above guidelines will help ensure you make as much positive impact as possible and stand the best change of actually influencing the respective dispute’s outcome!