Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Twittiquette Manifesto

Here's what I love about the Seattle intersection of Twitter and Foodlovers: there is a real, live community of warm, gifted, funny, discerning, generous, talented, ethical, hospitable, and empathetic people behind the avatars. Not all people are all of those things all of the time, but that's a pretty daunting string of qualities for any one person to embody 24/7, no?

And here's what I worry about: no one really knows yet how to negotiate the parameters and etiquette of online social networking that leads to such community in real life. 

So here's my Own Private Twittiquette Manifesto, which may be adopted or scorned by others. But it will guide my behavior:

1.  If I tweet that I'm with a group of people at a public location, say, a café, I will not be surprised or alarmed if others want to join. That's the risk I run for being public. If I make something sound enticing, who can blame people for being enticed?

2. If someone else tweets that there is a group of people at a public location, say, a café, and I really want to go, I will DM someone in that group and inquire about whether it's a private function. If I don't know anyone in the group well enough to DM them, I will stay at home and enjoy the banter of others.

3. If people are discussing a gathering at someone's home, and I'm not explicitly invited, I assume no invitation. I will accept that there is no way that everyone can go to everything; that people have limited entertainment space; and that I will go to something else at another time.

4. If I'm hosting something, I will try not to tweet about it unless I'm oriented toward openness or prepared to explain my guest policy otherwise.

5. I will never bring extra people along to something at someone's home without explicit permission from the host.

6. But I will be gracious if someone brings someone else to my home--I will not embarrass anyone.

The reality is that this is all murky. In addition to safety (I mean, it goes without saying that I will not meet someone no one's vouched for the first time by handing out my address, right?), my guiding principle is that I want to support community. I also want to be IN community. That doesn't mean I get to go to everything, it doesn't mean I want to be in exclusionary community, it doesn't mean I have enough space to host as many people as I would like.  Murky, see?

But the murkiness and risk of tripping are a small price to pay for being on this community journey, which is mostly a delicious (in every sense of the word) adventure.

For that I give thanks.

What are your thoughts? 


Becky said...

my thoughts are 'good on you' for tackling the murkiness, head on, headlamp firmly strapped on to your forehead.

Twitter IS sort of socially murky, but well worth navigating for the culinary and other benefits you describe. Essentially, while we may still act like we're 12 (and I speak for myself here) we're out of junior high school and therefore should treat all with respect, whether or not we choose to invite them along for the ride.

I might could have written that more clearly if I wasn't distracted wondering how @marcseattle will weave a spelunking joke into my headlamp reference.

Barbara said...

I find twitter a little like cell phones. Some people want you to hear everything they are saying. Personally I don't want to eavesdrop on every twitter personal conversation and wish people would use the DM button a little more.

Patrick said...

Timely post as this topic has been much on my mind lately.

It's only been recently that I've discovered this particular food lovers community through Twitter. As I've begun to get a sense of it and the character of the people that make it up I find myself really looking forward to meeting many of you in person & hopefully participating in some events.

Of course that leaves me now in the position of figuring out how to politely introduce my real life self to this group of people who I only see online. I don't want to be pushy and try to elbow my myself into a gathering of people who have never met me nor do I want to quietly stand by the wall hoping that someone will notice me.

I'll have to keep your very level headed set of guidelines in mind and from there just rely on my charming personality. *wink*

kairu said...

As a host, I never want to make someone feel unwelcome. I would never want to make someone feel left out. If I am giving a party but don't necessarily want to broadcast it on Twitter, I will send out an email, and I will tell people to let me know if there is anyone I've forgotten. Emphasis on "let me know." I don't want to have to give my concierge a list and say "only these people may come up" but at the same time I like to have an idea of what (or whom, I mean) to expect.

It would not occur to me that a casual gathering of friends at a café or such is open to all, unless the words "come and join us!" or "DM for details!" are somewhere in the tweet. That said, I don't usually tweet about where I am if I am in public and don't want anyone to just show up, or make anyone wonder why they weren't invited.

As a guest, the last thing I want to do is show up uninvited, or to invite myself, or to assume I am invited without a direct invitation from the host. To the point where I don't even assume I am invited to the home of a family friend with whom I have spent nearly every holiday, including St. Patrick's Day, for the past five years. Perhaps I take it too far, but I would rather be too polite than not polite enough.

Carrie said...

Great post! I totally agree with Patrick..especially being a relative new-comer to the offline version of this group.

Everyone has been extremely welcoming and usually what's tweeted about openly tends to be handled quite well in this regard.

I have found that with this particular group, there are at times some pretty informal invitations, like "hey, this is going on, folks should come" but people like me prefer a more formal directed to me kind of invite to not feel like I'm intruding. As mentioned, murky...but well worth the effort in getting to know this fabulous group of people.

I honest to goodness feel true joy when I'm around y'all. *gushing* ha


@kkbriggs said...

This is great. I've been on Twitter for quite a while "listening" but have only recently started posting more frequently. I love that there is such a vibrant community of food lovers in the Seattle area and it's fun to see what's going on, even though I'm not directly participating offline. I still feel a little weird/stalkerish about interjecting in conversations between two people - perfect example is the conversation between you and @kimricketts the other day about vereniki/stroganoff/borsch(t), but I'm trying to get over that. It will be interesting to see if others post about their personal twittequette.

Becky said...

I would also agree with Kairu. I think just because you are tweeting a location where you are doesn't imply an invitation. I think common sense dictates you should ask first and not assume. Until someone tells you that you never need to ask, lean on the side of being overly respectful. never a bad move.

That being said, if you say "come join me!" don't be surprised if total strangers to you show up.

Jenifer said...

I actually agree with Kairu, too. I think my point was to remind people that if you tweet where you are, you're opening yourself up. In that regard, online social networking is different from real life.

On the other hand, I still think the etiquette of real life should govern this area. Would you just show up if you overheard two people making an arrangement to meet?

So regardless of whether the tweeter MEANS for something to be open or not, the "observer" should assume real life etiquette.

In my very humble opinion.