Archive for March, 2011

March 31, 2011

Job Posting: Writers needed to post right-wing (or left-wing) comments

Earlier this week, a colleague of mine (@ivox_pierre) sent me the job posting below that appeared on Craigslist in Toronto for an hour or two on March 28, 2011. At first I dismissed it as a joke. The more I thought about this ad, though, the more I pondered several questions around authenticity and acceptability of this political trolling. The big one was:

Is this ethical behaviour?

The easy answer is “no,” regardless of your political stripe.  But are there exceptions to this rule? Is there a grey area here?  If so, what are the ground rules?

In the past, even I have been asked to use my social networks to support candidates, but the rules were clear:

  • Ensure you honestly believe in what you are saying online
  • Make sure it is truthful and accurate

These rules are in stark contrast to the requirements in the  job posting below:

We all know it’s not OK to encourage people to spread falsehoods; but is it OK to offer to pay people to promote your poitical angle?

In the interest of balance, I also found that a very similar ad was posted for left-wing writers. I don’t have the actual ad, but Google provides some evidence:

Regardless of whether your beliefs fall on the right, left, or centre of the spectrum, is this practice acceptable? What are the ground rules?

What do you think?

March 14, 2011

Don’t let me be misunderstood: 5 simple tips on clear writing for social media

Have you ever misinterpreted somebody’s intentions or tone online? It’s hard to know exactly what people mean when they use emoticons, abbreviations, accronyms, and fluff words. Recently, I came across several posts that left me scratching my head about what the writer meant. After further probing, it turned out that what they meant to say was much more positive and sincere than when it was first read.  I noticed a few similarities in these “misinterpretable” posts and decided to put together a few quick tips to help make sure your message is clear.

1. Avoid easily misunderstood words and phrases. This includes “however, first of all, finally, in the first place, FYI, just so you know, whatever, etc.” You may mean something completely innocent, but the reader may miss your intended tone completely – Just get to the point. These are wasted words in the first place, especially if you only have 140 characters.

2. Use a positive and upbeat tone. Nobody likes a negative person in their lives, and this remains true online. It is exhausting to always listen to somebody complaining about one thing or another and it doesn’t really add to the conversation. If you are ALWAYS negative, your credibility suffers. You can get pegged as a compulsive complainer and be tuned out.

3. DON’T USE ALL CAPS. Spammer alert. Using all caps doesn’t make your message stand out as more important, it makes it stand out as more annoying. I rarely read all caps posts in the first place, and I would never ReTweet them to my audience. Again, credibility can be affected here as it demonstrates a lack of etiquette.

4. Keep it short and sweet. Users don’t read the web, they scan it – so get to the point. If you need to include more information in a longer post, be sure to visually break up the content with formatting variations and multimedia.

5. Should we use emoticons? Short answer, Yes. Long answer, well…I rarely use them in my personal life, and never use them professionally. Professionally, your writing should be well-written and straight-to-the-point to a level that you don’t “need” an emoticon for the reader to get what you are saying. Personally, I have used emoticons in some cases to help ensure I communicate a light or positive tone when communicating with close friends.

Can you add something to this list? Did I leave something out or get it completely wrong? Leave a comment and let me know.

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