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Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Points to Consider when Online

I read a brilliant post by Tony Elridge last week and its content is something I have been thinking about for the last couple of months. In his article Tony highlighted points to consider when online and I found the post most relevant due to the fact that I spend a proportion of every day on the internet.

As a writer I spend my time online interacting in forums and social media sites with other authors and potential readers. I feel it is important to do this as part of my marketing stragety - building up an audience and making myself a valid member of the writing/book community. Because I interact with people on a world wide scale, I feel it is inevitable that sometimes people are going to be offended by the things I say. I would now like to state that whatever I say is not meant to be intentionally offensive. But due to the cultural differences, religious beliefs, terrorism, and political views, it is natural that some comments I make will cause a stir. This is the main reason I try to stay clear of these subjects whenever possible. And if I do have to state my own opinion I try to make it known to everyone that it is as balanced as I can possibly make it.

Sometimes being attacked for what we say is also inevitable - some people will argue just for the sake of it. But Tony highlighted the points we can take to minimise the risk of offence.

  1. Think before we type. Consider if our message will be read the wrong way by certain people.
  2. Be aware that you'll always have a reaction to controversial  comments.
  3. This point made me laugh because I always think about it: always make sure your audience is appropriate for your marketing message. As an author who writes books with an erotic element to them, the last place I want to advertise is in a primary school.
  4. Be quick to respond to any negative views and apologise for them.
Of course there are some writers in this world who love to be controversial and that is what makes them so popular. But I do think in order to be this way successfully you have to have a strong personality to cope with the negative feedback.

What type of writer are you, do you get high from creating a stir? Please let us know.


  1. Good morning. I occasionally say something as an agent provocateur. I just keep the humor in it, and if someone gets irked, I am quick to apologize. I am a superb apologist. I can apologize like the wind. I've had lots of practice.

  2. Ah Pete, you sound like me ;)
    Hope you have a very nice morning and a superfab day! :)

  3. Over the years, being an active member of many forums, as well as currently moderating a rather large gaming forum, I've found that discussing controversial topics online, or arguing about them, usually leads nowhere. As such, I don't even bother anymore. If I feel very, very strongly about something, I'll say my piece, then drop out of the conversation.

  4. I often raise . . . controversial is probably too strong a word . . . issues that tend to polarise opinions. And that’s the point, there are only opinions. As long as I’m not saying that my opinion is the right opinion – which I would never do – I get away with it. The only person I’ve offended online was due to be using a badly chosen word to describe this person’s poetry. No offense was intended and I made an unreserved apology but from that day on she stopped commenting on my blog and I’ve also felt it wise to keep my distance which saddens me but that’s life.

    I have encountered a number though who hang out on forums who do feel the need to proselytise. I’m not against people trying to convert others to their way of thinking and I think anyone who is so entrenched in his or her own opinion that they will not listen to what others have to say is a fool. If people express their arguments cogently then a wise person will at least consider their proposition. That doesn’t mean we have to accept it even if we can see the logic behind it but there are ways of saying so.

    I, personally, hate confrontation. Which is why I’m more likely to say, “I think,” even when I believe that I know. A lot of the times there is no right answer. Seriously, what is the answer to a question like: What is poetry? I watched a video a while back in which a pile of highly respected writers were filmed trying to answer that question. It was entertaining but I didn’t come away any the wiser. But that question comes up on my blog every now and then. In fact my post on flarf raised it but it would have been foolish of me to say that flarf wasn’t poetry simply because Wordsworth might not recognise it as such. But even back in his day no one had a clear definition of poetry despite all the rules they imposed on themselves.

  5. Thanks to both of you for sharing.