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February 11, 2009 5:54 PM   Subscribe

What is a good source of online etiquette for cross-medium self-promotion? I'm thinking someone might be going over the line, but I want something to back me up so it doesn't seem like I'm just overreacting. A member of an e-mail list I subscribe to posts about her/his blogs over frequently, to the point of always posting whenever there is a new entry up. I'm through ignoring it, and more than one person has suggested to him on list that if people wanted to read her/his blog that they'd do it. I'm not sure she/he is getting it. However, I can't really find any good sources for this sort of netiquette - I'm finding things only related to blogs or to e-mail lists, not both. I'd like something to point to if I (or others) choose to reach out to her/him.
posted by anarchivist to Human Relations (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is an email etiquette issue, to my mind, not a blog issue at all.

If the person was posting about writing an article with the same frequency, it would still be not okay. The list you're on should have some loose mission or "LISTSERV-L is for the discussion of subjects ranging from soup to nuts" byline, additionally there should be "list moms" who make deciscions like when someone has gone too far and get to lay the heavy in situations like this. They may not even mind doing it so it might be worth pinging them. I also like to subscribe to what I call the "if every kid did it" policy on these sorts of things which is that Person 1's behavior in this instance is NOT okay but it's tolerated by people because they hate conflict. However, if you had two people on the list doing the same thing -- O HAI here's another blog post of mine -- it would immediately become not only insfferable but clear that this is not what the list is for nor shoudl it be.

So, ignore the blog issue for the moment. I'd try to find a few listservs that DO have policies about self-promotion and see if you can either get some discussion goig or get some actual rulemaking happening. Here are a few I found

- Canadian Association of Journalists - "Members have agreed that each lister gets one shot a year at what somehow came to be called "shameless self-promotion." This may be book, event or award announcements but some members have used theirs for off-topic news like birth announcements or even notices on behalf of other people. If you post one of these and it's off topic, say in the post that it's your annual shot at shameless self promotion. "
- Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business - " Promotional materials should not be sent to the community. Self-promotion and referrals are not allowed at any time. "
- American Bar Association - "The rule against self-promotion is one of the most important for not only the Listserv but for the overall quality and popularity of the Forum. Most private practitioners understand that we in-house attorneys tend to hold in lower esteem those Listserv users that violate the letter and spirit of this tenet - so consider whether your self-promotion would really generate its desired effect. If one feels a compulsive, uncontrollable urge to self-promote, please do it off-line. "

So your colleague may mean well but they're heading into sketch territory. The trick will be to try to get them to dial it back without offending them. If they have ads or are trying to shill for Google page rank, that's one issue, if they're just good-hearted and want to share their world, that's another, so approach each situation differently.
posted by jessamyn at 6:10 PM on February 11, 2009

I really don't think you need to apply to a higher power here; if there's a consensus that this behavior's obnoxious, then whomever is in charge of the e-mail list should let the offender know that he or she needs to limit his or her blog promotion to x times a week/month/quarter/whatever.
posted by Neofelis at 7:05 PM on February 11, 2009

As the owner of a blog ( I never mass email new entries to my blog. From time to time i will email a link about a important update & I advise new subscribers to my email lists to check the web site regularly. Unless you subscribe to be updated every time the web site / blog updates it is rude. I also have a unsubscribe option on my emails:

(If you wish to be removed from this list, email back with UNSUBSCRIBE
in the subject field, . . . if you dare, that is. For shortly after you
should do so, an old blind pirate will knock on your door, and hand you
a scrap of yellowed paper with a black spot upon it. After that, we're
not sure what happens . . . )

That pretty much covers it
posted by patnok at 8:26 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't have a definitive resource for you but the rules are exactly the same as the physcial world. If it's my property (my blog, Facebook account, Flicker stream or my own mailing list) I can do whatever I want to promote myself. If it's someone else's property (your blog, your mailing list) I have to abide by "post no bills" signs or else I'm a vandal. Exceptions are places that are established as self promotional such as community notice boards (MeFi Projects), and some minimal promotion on stuff like business cards or email signatures. So unless the mailing list has "self promotion" in the charter, it's out of bounds.

Don't be afraid to set rules. (MeFi, to use an available example, is very strict about the self promotion in a post, and yet people seem to be perfectly happy to post like crazy here.)

However expect someone who blatantly ignores suggestion and good taste to find a way around them. For example if you set a rule of only one self-promotional post a month they'll try to get around it by posting "answers" to something that isn't really and answer but ends with "Just like I posted to my blog at!!"

So you kick them out. If you're alloyed by them, so is most everyone else and you'd rather lose one annoyance from your list, than have this behavior get out of control and drive everyone away.

If it's not your list, if you're just a member, ask the admin to send a post to the list clarifying the policy on self promotion. I'm sure they are aware of the problem with this person. Let them know they're starting to drive away more valuable community members. And send a polite message to the offender (or, if you want to really stir the pot, to the list) that says "Ya know, I know you're excited about your blog, but cross-posting every little update is only adding noise. If you keep promoting than participating in the discussion here I'll start filtering you out, and your promotion will be wasted when you really want it. Your blog address is available in your signature and we'll go when we want to."

Or something like that. But yeah, these people are usually "oblivious" (quotes used because they really do know better, they're just shameless) and can't really be reasoned with.
posted by Ookseer at 10:29 PM on February 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Discuss the Rules of the List in general on the list.

You could bring up the issue of self promotion or advertising on the list 'in general' (ie not single anyone out) but specfically mention the 'type' of post they make as one of the unallowed post types. as well as other self promotion.
posted by mary8nne at 3:44 AM on February 12, 2009

This post made me think of a similar situation in my own life -- and now, in fact, I am about 99% sure that we're on the same e-mail list. I too find this person's repeated notifications of new blog entries to be in bad form, to a point where I have set a filter to send the person's emails directly to my trash folder. I think the person means well and is extremely enthusiastic, but lacks a sense that the repeated pointers to the blog could possibly be unwelcome.

I looked over the list's terms of participation, and unfortunately there is nothing there about self-promotion, just about commercial spam. I am not sure that the person in question would change his behavior in response to an email from you (or were you thinking of posting something to the list?). I do wonder whether an e-mail to the list admin might be useful. They're generally pretty responsive, and I think would be open to considering this addition to the guidelines. I would be willing to send an email as well.
posted by Siobhan at 8:21 AM on February 12, 2009

Response by poster: @jessamyn: thanks- thought you'd be giving me some good feedback on this.

@Siobhan: It's entirely possible that we're talking about the same list... :)
posted by anarchivist at 3:18 PM on February 12, 2009

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