Sense and Civility

Cheryl Cain
It’s all been said before, but it bears repeating: How you act online can impact your bottom line in many ways; including raising you to heightened levels of popularity and prosperity, or plunging you into the depths of isolation and professional poverty.

For anyone who has spent any time on adult industry message boards – or indeed, on any type of online community forum – it comes as no surprise that in this environment, many people are not on their best behavior.

Perhaps this is because the relative anonymity of being known as “CircleJerk666” lets the poster feel free to drop all attempts at engaging in polite conversation in favor of a raw “fuck you” simplicity. While many of these people would never act this way in public during the light of day, they wrongfully feel a freedom to abandon civility while in their online persona without repercussion. After all, if you burn too many bridges you can always return as “MrNiceGuy” or some other anonymous entity…

But this isn’t always the case. Some folks engage in inappropriate anti-social behavior online simply because they don’t know any better. For the benefit of these people, this article will point out some of the do’s and don’ts you should be aware of if you wish to be taken seriously by your peers. Here are three common “problem areas” to watch for:

Wrongful Accusations
One of the worst (and most common) abuses of webmaster forums involves wrongful or unsubstantiated claims between parties. While public forums can serve as a venue of last resort for grieved parties to discuss their complaints, posting one-sided, negative remarks without proof or reasonable explanation is not only wrong, it may be legally actionable.

If someone has a problem with a company or individual that cannot be resolved privately, then a public ‘outing’ of the issue is entirely acceptable, especially if the issue could also involve other readers of the forum. Sadly, many of these negative posts come from folks who either didn’t follow the rules or whom had some other misunderstanding – or those who are actively seeking to discredit an individual or organization.

Some easy examples include a webmaster from a banned country accusing a sponsor of cheating him by not paying for signups or a sub-par designer wrongfully bad-mouthing a competitor as a means of corporate warfare.

Petty Bickering
This bad-mouthing often leads to petty bickering, name calling, and other immature forms of communication. If there’s one thing that can make a person look foolish (and perhaps be banned from a board for violating its Terms of Service), it’s name calling.

It’s amazing how rude some people can be when they’re a few thousand miles away from getting a punch in the nose. Many people have a long memory, however, leaving that distance much shorter at the next trade show.

In a supposedly “adult” industry, it’s stunning just how childish some people can be when they feel protected by the false cloak of anonymity and distance. Don’t let the little things distract you from why you’re at the boards: to gain contacts and build business – not to act like a whiny bitch.

Malicious Post Editing
Tied to the above issues and possibly the worst offense is the malicious editing of posts or other transcripts to prove a point by putting words in the other person’s mouth.

Whether this is done by editing the text in a “reply” box, a moderator abusing his or her privileges by directly editing a post, or a chat or other log posted as “evidence” after some careful massaging, this form of “lying” is often perceived as the truth by the casual observer, making the scam even more harmful.

With the many cultural and language barriers faced by operators in our global market, it’s hard enough to accurately communicate without the words being changed to suit one side or another in a public dispute, making this about the worst thing that someone can do, and as a result, providing ample reason for the offenders to be shunned.

Regardless of whether or not you use your real name or an anonymous “handle” to define your online persona, you should always treat people the way you want to be treated; with sense and civility. Doing so will help you to earn the trust and respect of your peers; steps towards closing deals and making sales. Ignoring this advice will leave others thinking that you’re immature and not to be taken seriously – definitely not the impression you want potential clients and business associates to have of you.