Online trust clues

November 8, 2010

soft puppy eyes

As I wander the far-flung corners of the internet, I’m interested to see what factors I’m unconsciously weighing up as I make decisions about connecting with people.   Usually, when I add people to Twitter or my RSS reader, I’m interested in connecting with them at some point down the line.   Or, I may be reading a blog and thinking about buying a service from the blogger concerned.  The persona communicated by the blogger over time is incredibly important to my decision-making.

Sometimes there are little personality clues that will sound an off-note. I came across a couple of great-looking people in the last few weeks where a casual glance at the blogs made me really want to dive in and start commenting.  I waited a little to read some more, and then I noticed that there were also other posts which to me seemed randomly aggressive.   I was suddenly a lot less keen to connect.

One of my oldest online friends actually puts prospective new connections in an Excel spreadsheet and tracks them for a while before adding them.  True, she’s doing that on LiveJournal where adding a new friend also means giving them access to private (friendslocked) posts; but I’ve always rather liked that approach.

I think I’m trying to detect clues to a reasonable degree of maturity and level-headedness.   Random sniping really sounds a warning bell for me: in my experience, that kind of attitude can lead to more unpleasant meltdowns further down the track.

The other signal that’s confusing is when someone thoroughly mixes up their professional self and their personal self.   I see this most often on business blogs where the writer will also use the blog to work through some existential issues.  Sometimes that resonates with me and increases respect and connection; other times, it seems to undermine them and their message.

Is this making sense to anyone? Do other people have little rules about the people they follow and if so can you tell what the cues are?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sibylle Weber February 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Absolutely, and I noticed how my respect for people declined when they tweeted about how the got drunk last night or attacked somebody personally. What is really interesting though is that one can be quite wrong in drawing conclusions about somebody’s overall character from their online behaviour. I know of a few really good people who have behaved rather childishly on Twitter once or twice (myself included I guess). I suppose that is because one is so removed from one’s audience, and while the tweet is primarily meant for close friends, at that moment one isn’t conscious of the fact that potential clients or business contacts might also read that.
Again, second great post I come across on your blog tonight! I should visit more often. (oh, and the puppy worked, by the way)


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