(Updated July 8, 2016)
The discussion guidelines for the Mountain Bike Skills Network (MTBSN) group on Facebook are intended to foster the development of an environment where ideas, information, and opinions are exchanged in an atmosphere of civility, trust, fun, and respect. It is best if you bring a spirit and language of inquiry with you when you visit and restrain your desire to only promote a point of view that is already formed.
I do have two unusual guidelines:
- Avoid sarcasm
- Avoid addressing a person indirectly when disagreeing with them. In other words, use their first name and talk to them as if you were conversing face-to-face, eg, “John, I think you’re wrong because…”
Here is an example of how NOT to do it:
“Waldo seems to think that all our problems would be solved if we would only embrace his wisdom.”
These two behaviors are probably more responsible for online discussions degenerating into nasty places than outright flaming or name-calling. You may think this is overkill, but you will just have to live with it if you want to participate here. There are other ways that ‘tone of voice’ can inhibit good conversation, of course. Intimidation, subtle put-downs, innuendo, joking-on-the-square, etc. can all be deployed in sophisticated ways, deliberately or not.
Promotion of products or services
If you might financially benefit from your comment, it is probably inappropriate. For example, don’t use the group to try to sell your mountain bikes parts. When in doubt, ask me first. Otherwise, keep the promotional stuff elsewhere.
If you want to promote your mountain biking skills-related services (clinics, coaching, or online courses, for example), watch for my monthly post inviting group members to do that. It’ll help to keep that all in one place.)
I have a virtual dungeon full of tools, tricks, and techniques at my disposal to mete out to offenders. I will try to find the punishment to fit the offense, but this is not a court of law nor high school, so do not expect perfect consistency. If you post something that, in my opinion, violates these guidelines, my approach will usually be to:
- Remove your comment from the discussion thread/public view. I’ll keep a copy of it.
- Post a public comment of explanation, eg, “Waldo, I’ve removed your comment because of our guidelines re: sarcasm. Please try again, and if you need the text of your original, contact me and I’ll send it to you.”
Why the public intervention?
Because comments are IMMEDIATELY distributed. No matter how fast I might try to be in moderating the comment, many people will have seen it. A public intervention is a great way for others to learn what’s acceptable and what’s not. My intent is not to embarrass anyone, but unless I say something publicly, everyone will wonder what the hell’s going on.
That’s it! Let me know if you have suggestions on how to improve these guidelines.
– Griff Wigley, Mountain Bike Geezer & Founder of MTBSN