Occasionally things are posted in groups which are either outside of the focus of that group or seem like “spam.”  Certain postings seem to beget similar postings. For example, when someone posts an opening for a position on a group not designed specifically for job seekers, it seems that others follow suit. Likewise, someone may post a request for funds for a non-profit cause or for a singular individual on a group which might be a specific discussion group and others follow suit posting for their specific causes.

People on the group who are laser-focused generally quickly rise and complain about the lack of relevancy or the “spam” that was just posted. Their reaction is to demand that the moderator(s) ban the individual who posted the job announcement or solicitation request and to demean the poster in the forum.  They simply assume that the poster was ill-intentioned.

The lack of tolerance for a faux pas, entry social networking skills, or an erroneous post is amazing. It is as though no one ever had a learning curve themselves, and that it is perfectly acceptable to speak negatively about an individual. Sometimes those words come from seasoned social-networkers who make an assumption that because they are seasoned, they are always correct.

Have you observed who rises up in these circumstances? In general, it is either the lurkers or those who are heavy posters themselves, you know them—they are those who seem to be led to post things on sites, like the words, “I agree” or “thanks.”  How do we know that two or three posters demanding the removal of someone from the group constitutes the will of the group?

What is also interesting to observe is the reaction of moderators. Some moderators take the issue off-line by contacting the offender and then determining appropriate action. Other moderators respond to the requests and ban the offender—some moderators even taking it so far as to ban the offender from other groups even though that individual has done nothing to warrant that in another group. Some moderators join the “smear the poster” campaign.

Co-moderation becomes another issue. Co-moderators may have different styles. One might be reactive and participate openly in the forum or group about the issue while another moderator might be working with the offender behind the scenes to gain an understanding and then determine what action should be taken.  While the issue could be resolved behind the scenes by one, the other is overt and takes punitive action without the benefit of a “hearing.”

We have networks, groups, and forums which are designed to attract individuals and participants. It is reasonable to assume that if the network, etc. is designed around a subject matter that postings and discussions should center on those topics. It also seems reasonable to assume that posters are not ill-intentioned if they post something not in keeping with that general topic.

People are different.  Your tolerance level of off-subject postings might be much higher than others in the group. It could be that those individuals who receive summary feeds are not as offended by off-topic material as those who read every single posting as it is posted. Sometimes, people need to just use the delete button and let a one shot error in judgment pass.  It is all about tolerance, teaching others what is expected in a respectful way, and then disciplining those who choose to disregard the rules.

Don’t people have the right to post what they think is appropriate material and then be contacted off-line or addressed respectfully on line if they are in error? What is your tolerance level?

What is your buzz about?