Jamie Butow

Tuesday, Sep 11 2012 08:59 AM

JAMIE BUTOW: Online rule violators will be towed ... er, deleted

By Jamie Butow

It's not uncommon for me to get condolences from anyone and everyone when I tell them what I do for a living. When I explain that I manage the social media sites, online discussion forums, and online article comments, I generally get a look of pity.

"Wow, that must be interesting. But how do you deal with all the nasty things people say?"

"I would never want to do that, people are so mean online."

"You probably just end up deleting a lot of stuff, I bet."

And my all-time favorite ... "Ugh. How did you end up with THAT job?"

Well, I don't take the things they say personally; yes, people can be mean but they can also be caring and supportive; surprisingly, I delete very little; and ... I asked for this job.

With some recent issues cropping up on BakersfieldTalks.com and BakersfieldMom.com's Facebook page, I thought this would be a good time to review some key points in our online Terms of Use (Find them at Bakersfield.com/terms).

1. We encourage conversation between Users, and require such conversation to be civil. You are responsible for the quality of the conversations in which you participate: to maintain intelligent discussions, be respectful and considerate. And of course, use common sense, because your mother, grandmother, kids or boss may read your postings to the Web Site.

2. Please do not engage in personal attacks (on authors, other Users, or any individual), persistent trolling or mindless abuse. Repeated personal attacks may be cause for suspension and possible expulsion from the site.

3. Hate speech will not be tolerated. Period.

4. Watch your language and respect other people's views, beliefs and emotions.

5. We reserve the sole right, in our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any given User Submission. This may include removing or monitoring posts that contain any of the above, that we believe violates the spirit or letter of these Terms of Use.

We think these are pretty self-explanatory. Email me if you have questions, comments, or concerns.

Good guidelines

Here are some good social media guidelines that go not only for Facebook, but forums and article comments as well.

1. Don't misdirect your anger at people.

We all have bad days, go a few rounds with the heavy bag, or dig into the mint chip ice cream. Raining on other people's parades is just not cool.

2. Don't get too personal.

Let's all learn from Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte's mom. His sex life is his sex life. Once you put all that information out there, there's no taking it back. I don't remember how many medals he won, but I know he's not looking for a serious relationship right now and his mom is fine with his "casual" lifestyle. TMI, people, TMI.

3. Don't be such a downer.

Aside from not being angry all the time, don't just post about the things that get you down. "So bummed my hubby has to work again this weekend, seems like the world is against us." "Ug. Burned my toast and junior won't stop biting his sister. My life sucks!" How about focusing on the fact that your hubby HAS a job. Try asking your online community for advice on how to get junior to stop biting. It's a safe bet others have gone through it and have tips that can help.

4. Don't just beg, sell, or show-off.

We all have our moments of parental pride and it's perfectly acceptable to post that video of your child riding a bike without training wheels for the first time, to pimp their Girl Scout cookies, or to ask for donations to the charity you're active with. Just don't make that the ONLY time you show up online. Share some real life moments that won't cost your friends money and aren't all "Look at how great my child is!"

5. Be a human being.

Look for the opportunity to help someone. Whether it's by offering advice, a kind word, or even just a lighthearted comment, take the opportunity to connect with someone. That's what social media is about.

The greatest benefit of social networking is the ability to stay in touch with friends, family and, casual acquaintances despite schedules and geography. So share your life experiences -- both good and bad. But be aware of how you're portraying yourself online. Are you only posting about sports? Are all your posts about how unhappy you are at the moment? Chances are you do more than watch baseball, fight homework battles, or play SongPop on Facebook.

Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for the Bakersfield.com Network, a social media junkie and the mom of an active 8-year-old boy. Email her at JButow@bakersfield.com. Follow her at Facebook.com/JamieButow2, Twitter @JamieButow, and on Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

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