Category Archives: Social media

Dealing with negative commenters

One of the consequences of the BBC’s redirecting a large swathe of the discussion around its television shows to bloggers writing about them is that instead of the BBC having to manage the comments and discussion around the shows, people like me do. Unlike the BBC, I don’t have a massively evolved comments policy – before I wrote about Outcasts, I’d had a total of 500 comments on my blog in 8 years, most of them from me, replying to the occasional comment from someone random.

Then my blog posts about Outcasts and its cancellation and the Apprentice came and I tripled the number of comments on my blog in a few months. And it wasn’t a problem, as for the most part people were quite  nice – venting mutually in their upset over the Outcasts cancellation or offering an opinion on Lord Sugar’s judgments, mostly ignoring what I’d written, often tacitly thinking or hoping the BBC would read their comment here (no evidence of this as yet) or whatever. Again, no issues.

But now I’ve written about Torchwood, a show that’s upset some people because of a number of (not particularly graphic) scenes of gay sex, arguably slow pacing and a distinct lack of a single dramatic monster-shaped climax each week (I’ll write a defense of the show soon, because I think its better than people are giving it credit for, but want to see it play out first).

But the comments situation has me scratching my head… a significant number of the comments are prefaced with "I’m not a homophobe, but…," a few are straight out "gay sex is wrong my kids can’t watch that" (despite Torchwood being a post-watershed adult-targeted programme). Do I let these comments through? Do I bin them? After all, even if some of these people are narrow-minded (IMHO) conservatives, they have a right to an opinion, don’t they? Then part of me thinks "this is my site, and I can control it all however I like. Bwahahahaha…"

Truth be told, I don’t have enough time to moderate these comments carefully enough, and the nuances of what constitutes hate speech are probably beyond the spare minute or two I have to go back through the comments and delete stuff. But for those uncertain, I’d like Currybet’s rule for news website commenting to apply here. The golden rule: “don’t be a dick.” This is a nice place, for nice people to have reasoned discussion. Follow Mr Bet’s helpful flowchart to check if you are being a dick, in case you’re not sure. A minority of you on the Torchwood posts? You’re definitely being dicks.

The heartening thing in all of this is that there are a number of stalwart defenders of the show and the choices its made calling people out for being narrow-minded et al. Hoorah for you, good people*. You’ve helped me maintain my faith in the Interwebs.

The ease of anonymity and the impersonal nature of website commenting still makes it too easy for people to Troll or vent in unpleasant ways they wouldn’t do in real life. I’m open to suggestions on how to make this harder on here… Facebook comments/true name policy only/non disposable identities only?

* I should flag: I am very happy for people to take any of my opinions and the show (or anything else I write about) to task; that’s why I enable comments. The world is made of differing opinions. But I don’t have time or the emotional energy to deal with people being dicks, so please abide by that rule if you can.

The Facebook experiment

Facebook.Given the open-ness and superior sharing controls of Google+ I’ve started the process of thinning down my Facebook friends list – this is partially an attempt to regain some sense of personal freedom for my "private" space on FB, and partially out of consideration for the contacts on my friends list inundated with my endless blog posts and photos of my daughter on their news feeds.

I’ve ‘unfriended’ about 20% of my list (I’d considered just moving them to a ‘limited view’ friend status but didn’t really see the point – the people I’ve unsubscribed have had very little interaction or conversation with me for some considerable time now), and we’ll see if anyone notices. I am hoping others fed up with me will unfriend me themselves – as my friends list crept upward I had a sneaking suspicion – which I’m sure will be justified by minimal re-adds – that I wasn’t as popular as Facebook was intimating.

Anyway, I sincerely hope I haven’t caused any offence and will happily get back in contact with people who so desire it!

Charlie Stross on ‘true naming’ – and Google+

I hadn’t really considered the full implications of Google+’s “true naming” policy, but Charlie has the issues mapped out perfectly here.

To start with, as Patrick McKenzie pointed out in his blog last year (before all this blew up), programmers almost always get name handling wrong because there is no universal format for a human name.

Charlie goes on to point out a whole bunch of other reasons why this is a problem for Google and it’ll be interesting to see how they resolve it. The anti-cultural bias of the ‘True Name’ policy is very unlike Google, despite the (admirable?) goal of keeping the social network honest. But as Charlie points out:

Google are wrong about the root cause of online trolling and other forms of sociopathic behaviour. It’s nothing to do with anonymity. Rather, it’s to do with the evanescence of online identity. People who have long term online identities (regardless of whether they’re pseudonymous or not) tend to protect their reputations. Trolls, in contrast, use throw-away identities because it’s not a real identity to them: it’s a sock puppet they wave in the face of their victim to torment them.

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out… although of course, I’m still not quite using Google+ yet. It needs events, and more people I actually know, as opposed to randoms with no profile adding me, possibly expecting reciprocity.

As an aside, I’m still reading Charlie’s Rule 34 – took a break from novels to catch up on some DCU comics – and it continues to be awesome. Charlie’s mentioned a few AR overlays, a lot of tablets, a few 3D ‘fabbers’,  but no social networks yet – maybe, in the near future, we all forget our logins…

Taunting the SEO and social media people with the undead

Black Lantern Captain AmericaWorking at a PR agency and consulting on how people can interact with bloggers and their ilk has always given me a bit more patience, and occasionally respect for the people that pitch me for one product or another. Because I am a bit interested in most things, more often than not I do write about the stuff that people send me or write to me about, from yoghurt to clothing to technology and back again, on the basis that the pitch demonstrates evidence that they’re targeting me on the basis of anything I’ve actually written in the past.

I’m also more than open to offering people a guest blog spot, for what its worth, if they want to write about something that aligns in more or less anything I’m interested in, and as long as its not totally shameless self-promotion.

However, I have virtually no patience with people that don’t even slightly think through why they’re in touch with me, and, like the old scam of old (h/t to Will S on that one) I’ve taking to taunting them.

Personal details redacted, but here’s this week’s fun:

@division6 morning :) was wondering if you’re still accepting guest posts on your blog at all?
@[redacted] depends who from, what for and what about!
@division6 it’ll be from me (my employer), on whatever you’d like it on. What for, you tell me :)
@[redacted] how about a comparative analysis between the undead universes of DC and Marvel comics? Marvel Zombies vs DCU ‘Black Lanterns’?
@division6 lol
@[redacted] No? Ok then.
@division6 don’t think I’ve ever, ever read a comic, nor seen a movie based on a comic.. Maybe The Crow, if that’s classed as one..

I’m hoping someone does take me up on that blog post request. I think a DCU/Marvel undead crossover (maybe with some Walking Dead zombies thrown in for good measure) could be ftw.

Yamtastic – investigating Yammer

yammericonI persuaded some colleagues to try Yammer a few years ago and it didn’t really go anywhere. The enterprise collaboration tool that works like the corporate lovechild of Facebook and Twitter, however, seems to have grown up; a more polished Facebook-esque interface, excellent private group collaboration and other features lends it great potential – which I’m only just beginning to scratch, a week in to a new wave of testing.

The real challenge is in driving adoption and the strategy this time around is to define where in the business it’d be useful before we roll it out. I’m exploring lots of different options, as well as working up a dev wish list of the nice people at Yammer (it’s not perfect; what tool is?). Oddly, having told people that its just in testing and not to worry about signing up, I’ve got half the company on there – which is a significantly greater impact than I had when I was trying to get a group of testers together three years go…

A few specific bugbears are beginning to emerge – "open" groups cannot be made private (I can understand why the reverse might be true, but no this), there’s no Tweetdeck integration, the Chrome extension is OK but made by a third party and requires you use a browser to actually view updates, and there’s limited built-in collaboration- you have to spin out to Google Apps or some other third party cloud collaboration tool… And it probably needs a bit more M’sft integrations (vcards, calendar invites).

Still, definitely having fun yammering away. See where it goes.

On refining my Facebook circles

Facebook friend wheelThe advent of Google+ has had me thinking about my Facebook friends list – I have over 500 people on there and anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m not that popular. But years of adding everyone I’ve gained more than a passing familiarity with and accepting friendship requests from the like has left me – perhaps – oversharing slightly. So a process of Spring cleaning must begin, and some criteria must be applied.

But rather than wholesale defriending people, I think I’ll go through a more Google-esque process, trying to align friends by how I know them (for the most part), restricting access to my updates to the people less likely to be interested in family pics, blog posts and the like. It’ll be a fairly tedious exercise but hopefully better for all involved.

If you’ve not been in regular contact but want to remain in an ‘open’ circle and see all my updates, do let me know…

Random adds on Google+

I’m not really sure what’s going on with Google+ at the moment. Whilst I like the interface, my inability to simply syndicate posts to it (via Tweetdeck or anything else), the limited number of "Real Life Friends" on it and the growing number of randoms adding me on there (at the present rate I’ll have more followers on my largely ignored Google+ account than I do on my reasonably active Twitter account in a few months) makes it all a bit confusing.

New features keep launching though, so we’ll have to see.

I can’t help but think that this is where the closed nature of Facebook is quite nice – the option to ‘decline’ friend requests gives you a nice kind of control over who you share with. I suspect Google will have to give you an option to view the posts from a selection of circles so you can selectively ignore posts from circles like "Internet Randoms," and/or we’ll end up creating ‘supercircles’ for one click sharing – i.e. I want to share with everyone except the Internet Randoms.

And to the Internet Randoms that are following me (and everyone else) – stick a decent bio / about page in. If I have no way of knowing who you are and you have thousands of people in your circles, I will block you. Sad but true… I just don’t have the time to be interested in people’s thoughts when I have no way of establishing who they are.

On Google+ and Facebook

Google+和facebookSo I love the concept of Circles, but Google+ isn’t quite there for me yet.

Here’s why not:

1) No APIs yet, so no limited extensibility and hard to work into my social media syndication strategy – I can’t get my blog to cross post to G+, for example. The xhtml / rel=me thing should work but between my ineptitude at HTML and bugginess in Buzz, I can’t make it work.

2) Not enough people on there that I actually know – the only circles of mine where people are saying anything are “randoms,” “journalists” and “PRs” – which tells you a bit about the early adopters I know.

3) Too many randoms are adding me for no apparent reason – I can understand why some of the big hitters have stepped off the platform within days of joining

4) I don’t use enough of the other Google apps (Picasa etc) that would make it really useful. Maybe I should.

On Facebook at the moment I have one fundamental complaint:  the newsfeed’s selection of news stories is currently completely borked. I’m getting old stories from a very small set of my friend-network because Facebook is trying to guess which "circles" I want to hear from and excluding many of my friends.

Sort it out, the pair of you!

Google+ iOS app first impressions

Google+ iOS AppThe Google+ iOS app isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. It’s buggy, crashes a bit and/or loses threads from notifications, occasionally fails to load beyond the login screen, and doesn’t seem to let you filter your stream by circle. Which seems a fundamental error. It also seems a little limited by way of available features for sharing, etc.

That said, Google is clearly iterating fast – the first bugfix release was out within 24 hours. And it has a nice, clean UI and a good touch interface. So we’ll see what happens.