Q. I belong to several online groups. Recently, I started getting inundated with posts about an upcoming seminar. A common member of most of the groups I belong to started sending out dozens of postings to each group about his upcoming event. I felt this was in poor taste but he said that is what these groups are for. Am I correct that there is proper etiquette for these online groups? What are they, and how can I apply them to the groups I administrate?
D. P., Fairport, NY
A. The real value of online discussion groups and the primary reason for their existence is the dissemination of information and ideas to like-minded people. As such, they’re a great networking tool. Even though the group communicates electronically rather than in person, it’s still important to be considerate, respectful and honest when you create your posts. Sending multiple posts to group members informing them of a particular seminar or any other event is inappropriate. An initial post and possibly a follow-up reminder are sufficient. Repetitive postings will frustrate members far more than encourage them to attend the event. In some cases it could even be in violation of a group’s guidelines and cause for being dropped.
Some other manners to keep in mind when joining a discussion group are:
• Before joining a group, read its guidelines and be willing to follow them.
• Keep posts focused to the purpose of the group.
• Keep a positive, constructive attitude to your posts, even if the topic becomes heated.
• Proofread carefully so the focus is on your ideas, not your mistakes.
• Make your post easy to read by using sentence case, not all caps, and avoid special formatting like different type sizes and styles, bolding or italicizing.
• Be concise. Long rambling messages will lose readership.
• Reread your posts before sending them to listen for any negative tone that may be misinterpreted by others.
For more information on how to be a valued member of an online group, see Dr. Randall Hansen’s article on the Quintessential Careers website.