How to Be a Constructive Member of an Online Community
Participation in online writing communities like HubPages can be very satisfying and even financially rewarding. Since online communities are composed of real people who have hopes, dreams, beliefs and feelings, membership carries with it obligations toward other members as well as the viability of the community as a whole. Here are several thoughts on how to be a constructive member of the online communities you join.
Be Ethical at All Times
This practically goes without saying. None of us should deceive others into doing something that will benefit us financially. Full disclosure is the minimum required.
Observe Proper Netiquette
Netiquette is short for internet etiquette and has been around since about 1988 -- even before the world wide web was created. Basic rules include no spamming, avoiding flame wars, no yelling (using all caps), and being courteous and respectful at all times. Rudeness and uncivil behavior can injure the harmony and peace of a community for many. Do your part by always being polite to others. Be careful to respect the rights and privacy of other members, too.
Pay Attention to Local Customs
Different communities formulate their own rules and customs. Each of us needs to read up on the rules and, if unsure, ask more senior members for guidance on how to handle situations when we have a problem. For example, before posting in a forum, observe for a while what the style and function is of the posts being made. Don’t just jump into an ongoing forum and try to give or change direction before you learn how it should be done.
Make Your Own Contributions When Ready
On a writing site like HubPages, many members are making contributions to the site and community every day. These contributions include publishing articles sharing their knowledge and expertise, posts to forums, answering questions posed by other Hubbers, and finally, positive comments and ratings on the Hubs of others. All these contributions of so many different people and personalities can accord an online community like HubPages a vitality and excitement that is hard to match in other settings. And you help make it happen!
Help the Newcomers
Senior members especially can be and often are extremely helpful to new members. But the senior members have their own work to do and sometimes can’t be available. So those of us who have been around a few months should help the new guys, too. Such help and support keeps the community growing and healthy, which is in everyone’s best interest. Of course newcomers should be directed to tutorials and FAQs first.
Life has plenty of frustrations and online communities reflect life. So there may be temptations to vent once in a while. You should do that privately, unless the whole community can benefit from airing an issue. The social fabric of an online community is pretty strong but still shouldn’t be ripped when it can be avoided. Probably the most important rule is to keep positive, constructive, and patient, and good things should happen.