Thursday, February 20, 2014

Talk Talk

Pandaria as a Graphic. Possibly.

This is a little off piste, even for me, but bear with me. I'll do my best to make it worth it.

Yesterday, I blocked my first follower on Twitter. This is hardly news, but it has made me consider the notion of how we use networking in game and how communication is becoming often more important than the actual business of playing. After all, if you want to include as many people as possible in your raid team or event, that means casting your net as wide as conceivably possible for potential recruits or participants. It also means considering a far deeper range of considerations apart from just yours to make your project work to it's best advantage. Despite the nature of the graphic above, I'm not about to start getting all marketing strategy on you, but there are elements from the workplace that you could probably transcribe here without too much of a problem. Stuff from the Real World works in Warcraft too. My point this morning is that the last resort shouldn't be your first call, because once you've engaged Defcon 1... there's nowhere else to go.

That's a bit of a problem if your decision turns out to be the wrong one.

Dad only has one leg. TAKE THE TREAT.

I've lost count of the number of people I've put on ignore in game: seriously hundreds of random people who I've (seemingly) never met before have been willingly silenced. My problem is simple: if you do something stupid or attack other people, I don't hold it in, I'll say so, and this is often without what some might consider the appropriate amount of tact and diplomacy that should accompany such outbursts. I am, to all intent and purposes, a right mouthy cow [*] However, when it comes to Social Networking, I will go out of my way not to do that unless I have a very good reason, or if it does happen unintentionally, it's normally as a result of a misunderstanding. I'm not sure at what point I made a distinction about not worrying what happens in-game, but I've done a lot in the last few months to try and rationalise my behaviour everywhere. Consistency is a thing, and I don't think I can try and pretend to be standing here and representing an acceptable stance unless I am doing the job properly. What was it my Nanna used to say? Treat everyone the way you want to be treated yourself?

It's a fair point.

When therefore you ask someone nicely to stop doing something and they continue to do that, you can choose to ignore them and often that works just fine. However, when what they do impacts on lots of other people and your actions are capable of stopping that inconvenience for everyone, then there are other things to consider. So, the person that I blocked yesterday is now unable to fill hundreds of other people's Twitter feeds with a constant repetition of what I say. I'm betting some marketers would pay good money to get people to do just that, reminding me that all publicity is good, but the problem is that more and more that's just not true. With the speed at which some sections of the Internet evolve, the 'traditional' views of advertising and promotion simply don't hold up under increasing scrutiny. The trick isn't to apply the same techniques everywhere, it is to understand your markets, and what works for one group won't wear elsewhere. In the end, people want to hear your voice, and if they don't, they can and will walk away. Controlling what you do isn't simply about watching your words, it also involves understanding what other people can do with them.

There's also may ways to be read without you being aware that's the case. Privacy is a 'thing' after all, and it is often far harder than you realise to control what gets seen. As a rule of thumb, on the Internets, only one thing is really true. What's yours has the *potential* to be everyone else's, unless you have an awful lot of security and backup to protect you. If you make it public, be prepared to stand by everything, and if you make it private, understand that word isn't as rigid a definition as perhaps you might think it is.

It's not paranoia, it's the future.

Get in, get out, get rich.

Social Media seems to be becoming the defacto tool for smart marketing, and I'm not just talking Twitter, that will be ANY online hangout where a target audience happens to be congregating. Reddit, Tumblr, Twitch, whatever the next Big Thing might be, and you can be assured that if the people that matter are keeping their eyes on things, these places matter. You'll also want to be watching what data you share with people just as you should on behemoths like Facebook. So, learning how to use these places not simply as a place to share puppy pictures and swap recipe tips might be a plan. For antisocial beasts like me, it's often like swimming with sharks, but some days it has its benefits. Being able to decide who you want to talk to is cool, as is being able to control who takes part. However sometimes the only way you ever make progress yourself is to step outside the comfort zone and face the unknown. If you're going to preach the Gospel of Communication for all, remember that has consequences not simply for the people listening, but more importantly for what you say.

I've made some mistakes in my five years. The ones I know were unintentional I did my best to correct, and that includes making sure I publicly apologise where needed, and often privately apologising when I could simply walk away. It may make no difference to some, but in the end if I feel I did absolutely the best I could under the circumstances, it does matter, because this isn't just about doing the right thing, it's also about learning from your mistakes. There are those who will tell you all that matters are the people that stay, not the ones that leave, and that you should focus on the positives and they are absolutely right, to a point. You are never as good as you think you are, and there is ALWAYS room for improvement. There is always a way back from the Last Resort, if you're prepared to sacrifice something to obtain it. If you open your mouth and want to be heard, your words will be your judge.

Always speak responsibly. [**]


[*] Actual expression of abuse carried with me over many years to remind me I am like this and I need to think before I open said orifice.
[**] The value of your opinion may go down as well as up. Caution, content is hot.

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