The etiquette (such as it is) of social networking -- like I would have a clue?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/11/25 03:01 -05:00, original URI:

Perhaps not the least important blog ever posted here, but likely in the top ten; I'd recommend skipping! 

Kind of a follow-up to The downside to being anti-social is....

In the world of LinkedIn, it is really on the asker -- they have to put themselves out there and assert the professional relationship, in order for there to be any chance of it being created. And it is not visible to anyone else until/unless the askee approves of the connection.

Generally speaking, personal relationships are not a huge part of it, though professional for many people there extends to conferences and quasi-professional connections as well. Which do make up a big part of what passes for personal relationships among geeks.

I am the technical VP of a development SIG -- is a member of that SIG in a professional relationship with me?

How about someone who watched me speak once?

Would them asking me a question during the presentation change the answer? How about if they asked after?

I guess I am usually more inclined to give someone the benefit of the doubt in such cases -- no sense turning someone down, there is a karma thing involved here, I think. :-)

Exception, sometimes I get requests for connections from people like this guy who has no direct connection in LinkedIn to me or anyone I connect to, but has third level connections through like 41 people I am connected to. I can't recall him, which suggests one of the following possibilities:

The first one is a really depressing thought, and the second is not much better, the third is perhaps a reason (see below), and the fourth isn't, in my book. But this is an example of one I said no to for now...

Hell, I used to put my email address on my slides, and tell people that anyone who would sit there and listen to me blather for an hour is someone I'd be willing to take a question from -- this seems like a natural extension to the previous policy!

The mail notification for LinkedIn has appeared to be flaky at times (I am not told of someone being an asker and do not find out until the next time I log in, which could be weeks later. And often is, at least for me, YMMV!).

Then if you contrast that with facebook, lots of interesting differences seen to emerge.

The asker appears to have much less to worry about with default settings of people in a shared network -- the connection seems to be added as soon as they assert it. It takes an explicit act of the askee to break the connection. Now this is only the default setting and can definitely be configured, but how many people really configure it? Some people I know, sure -- but we are all geeks so we aren't typical!

Personal relationship connections seem much more common -- I have found myself reunited with folks I have lost touch with for years. Listing them alongside the people who I just met last year is fine for me but I have yet to fully grok what it makes me look like in the "snapshot description" of myself. Maybe it doesn't say anything. :-)

And them professional relationships that are several professions past seem more fluid and dynamic, with actual conversations seeming more common than with LinkedIn. Again, YMMV and probably does. It is just what is seems like.

The mail notification has also sometimes seemed flaky, but I haven't really analyzed it too closely.

When you think about the difference in asker vs. askee, the fact that doing nothing in facebook leaves the connection there until one explicitly kills it does cause there to be another dynamic -- one has to either quickly kill it off or one will likely accept it -- the whole "let it sit there, no hurry" feeling that LinkedIn gave seems missing here.

Another good reason to change settings, mentioned to me recently by a friend from years ago (we recently reconnected via a reconnection!):

I was on Facebook briefly, but have since canceled my account.  I am not a big
MySpace/Facebook person.  Good for networking, not so good when exes play headgames.
So, now I try to just operate in the real world. 

She makes a good point -- and if not a reason to drop an account, it is certainly a reason to consider visiting those settings!

In the end, I see myself less involved with these things over time. I mean, some people love this (supposedly Robert Scoble has over 5000 "friends" in facebook and I'm told there are actual groups there suggesting he needs to be a little less involved!).

But for me it is just a means to an end. I want to be out there, so that people who are looking for me can find me.

And occasionally, I want to find an old friend from networks long past.

Even in a world like facebook that only lists one of the high schools I went to, and not the one I graduated from (thus making so important, with old friends trying to drum up a reunion for the now-defunct school!).

But seeking out glory in a social network seem even more flawed than seeking out glory in real life since it is virtual (and both are flawed since glory comes from somewhere different).

The etiquette of it all is beyond me, so if I accidentally step on a toe trying to "friend" me then I apologize, as I honestly am not trying to.

Being connected is just the first part -- as I mentioned to friend Mike the other day:

Sometimes a connection is flattering, esp. if it is someone you admire, but it doesn't mean much beyond the initial moment. After that, it is the strength of the relationship that matters. But the moment is nice, I guess....

How much time do I spend communicating with the (as of last night) 41 people I am connected to? Not much -- in fact with just a few exceptions that were genuine reconnects (and which probably would have been anyway even without the facebook/LinkedIn medium in which they occurred), I am really just talking to the people I talked to before.

Maybe that is bad etiquette too, but my friend was right about the strength of operating in the real world. :-)

On a completely unrelated note, I missed seeing Blues Traveler at Showbox, a whoe that is probably still going on right now as this post is going up live. This was pretty unfortunate, and I am going to have to see if I can catch them somewhere else on their current tour. If any regular readers saw the show, what did you think?


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Reeve Fritchman on 25 Nov 2007 12:19 PM:

I suppose I should keep my digital head down-I'm connected to Arnnie through one link.  But at least he didn't list his frequent flyer memberships.

Reeve Fritchman on 25 Nov 2007 12:27 PM:

Unrelated: I encourage you to see Al Kooper the next time he's in town.  He's a musical Forrest Gump (read Al's bio and you'll see what I mean), a seminal figure in American pop music, and a genuinely creative guy.

Vindalou on 25 Nov 2007 4:41 PM:

ok - now you have put me in a quandry

Should I invite you to my linked in friends since you have publicized you have a listing there

Should I NOT invite you since I would feel rejected if you turned me down?

And looks like I have a one-degree-of-separation link to Arnnie too.

Michael S. Kaplan on 25 Nov 2007 5:01 PM:

Imagine how I feel -- I have no idea of the etiquette here -- the same problem, multiplied by the population of my readership (all 39 of you!).

Where is the Miss Manners blog, where we could get the real answer here? :-)

Ted K. on 26 Nov 2007 1:25 AM:

The solution is obvious -- a group on Facebook for regular readers of this blog!

Michael S. Kaplan on 26 Nov 2007 2:04 AM:

Hi Ted,

That is a really scary prospect, one that I'd rather avoid, to be honest. :-)

Jeroen Ruigrok van der Werven on 26 Nov 2007 10:58 AM:

I basically flipped the bird at/to all social networking sites.

I got better things to waste my time with. :)

And to be honest, I feel saner due to that too.

Currently reading's Ian Irvine's Geomancer. Just finished Scott Bakker's The Thousandfold Thought.

Dean Harding on 27 Nov 2007 12:15 AM:

re: "Geomancer" Awesome series! I'm waiting for the paperback version of Curse of the Chosen... BTW, if you haven't read The View from the Mirror quartet, I highly recommend that as well :-)

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