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Towards Some Rules for Online Identity Management

Annoyance at spam twitter accounts had me lock up my twitter updates last week. The upshot of that was that by doing so, I moved some 500 people who had been following me into twitter limbo. For the last few days, I've been having to decide, one by one, which ones I let return to seeing my updates. Rather than do this willy-nilly, I came up with some basic rules that might be interesting to you as well.

In order for me to let you have a glimpse of my life, I've decided, I need to know you or know of you, or at a minimum want to know you. If I don't know you or know of you, the only way I can tell if I want to know you is from your online identity, which in this case means glancing at your twitter profile. If you follow thousands of people, I'm probably not going to let you follow me, because it bespeaks of a lack of interest in me as an individual. If the "person" is a company, product or service, forget it. There has to be some benefit to me in your seeing some of me, and that is unlikely to be the case with most companies. I can see how it might benefit them, but me? Unlikely.

The bar is much higher for me to choose to follow someone. In order for me to do that, there are two criteria: I have to know you well (we've at least had drinks or a meal), and you have to use your twitter account in a way that I find acceptable. By that I mean you don't twitter excessively or have long @ conversations or only @ people. You need to have something to say for me to want to hear it, not just responses. I have to know you well for the simple reason I need to understand a little of your life to make sense of some of your messages. Where you live, your family life, what you do for a living, your sense of humor, etc. Without context, a twitter stream can simply be stuff and nonsense.

Now, abstracting this just a little to all social networks isn't much of a stretch.

  • Have something to say.
  • Pick and choose who you follow and who follows you carefully.
  • Offline context still matters.
  • Reveal only as much as is necessary.
  • Give me a reason to follow you--and to share with you.

It's a start anyway.

Originally posted at Thursday, April 17, 2008 | Comments (3) | Trackback (0)

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