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Archive for the ‘Guidelines’ Category

The Guideline Policy Tool, Or Should I Call It “Style”?

Posted by envirostats on Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last month, I shared my Practical Guide to Facebook Etiquette (Netiquette), serving as a starting point from which people could customize their own Facebook Netiquette to help stay out of potential trouble with their Facebook activities. I chose that approach because it:
– was customizable to suit different individuals;
– was easily found by all wanting to know;
– was self-taught so all finding it could use it;
– had more details than “general advice” that already existed in excess, often neither effective nor comprehensive.

Since then, I’ve realized there are many problems for which the guideline policy “tool” or “style” would be perfect. These are problems where there may not be a clear entity expected to intervene or solve, like government, or none that can effectively do so, but problems where a little suggestion of practical action could help put it under the radar. These are problems involving legal human behaviours that can amount to big impact, for which there are no “obvious” answers unless one really thinks about it, for which effective guidelines could remove 90% of that work. These are problems resembling social epidemics from individual choice that can have impact from societal to environmental.

Why I think the guideline policy style would be so effective is because humans don’t like to be forced. We like choices, though too many choices can lead to decisional paralysis. The guideline policy style strikes a nice balance of convenience and individuality by giving starting points with options, and saving much thinking and research. The guidelines won’t ever be intended to solve problem entirely, due to voluntary uptake, but they can be expected to solve the problem sufficiently that it should no longer be a concern, to the individual or masses.

There are two main challenges to the guideline policy style approach. One is getting the word out, which a little Internet saviness can solve. The second is credibility. An effective set of guidelines could slowly build this, but the tiniest authoritative backing, by even just one person who might be viewed as authoritative enough to validate it, would be a tremendous boost. Any other source generally viewed to be authoritative enough to validate the guidelines would even be better, maybe like government, which should get involved, where possible, because guidelines are not intrusive in nature. I’ll leave it to you to imagine the difference between guidelines, credible or not, by someone unknown as me, compared to one by, say, government or a school board, accompanied with a press release or maybe just one journalist invited in for a newspaper story.

As a result of these conclusions, I have created a Guidelines Category on this blog in which I will be posting more guideline policies as I find problems I think I can help solve. If you have any suggestions, please share. I’m not promising to be able to solve everything or even try some,  just willing to share some common sense and putting some effort to package it in practical ways to freely share with others.

500 words


Posted in Canada, Guidelines, Internet, Lifestyle, Nova Scotia, Personal Reflection, Social Issues, World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Are You Around Careless Facebook Users?

Posted by envirostats on Sunday, December 7, 2008

I’ve written a series of posts recently on Facebook etiquette (or Netiquette) that users might want to pay attention to in order to keep themselves out of trouble or limiting their potential for jobs, scholarships and so on (short Practical Guide; details in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,). If you’re a Facebook user, maybe you’ve learned or maybe you’ve never needed to learn because you’ve been careful.

However, the other potential for damage related to Facebook presence is that just by being around careless, or intentionally malicious, Facebook users, you could get yourself in trouble, whether or not you even use Facebook!

Think about that statement for a few seconds, because this is going to ultimately affect pretty much everyone given how many Facebook users there are in most countries around the world, but especially North America where it is so prevalent, spread all around rather than just isolated in any regions. It is also the far more difficult thing to avoid because you are not taking the action, and could be drunk or just not paying attention, so it’s not as obvious to you.

You are constantly going to have to be aware of your actions in public now as if you are a superstar or media figure. It’d be on a smaller scale cause you might not be on People’s magazine or the National Examiner, likely, but if it potentially affects you on the job, or keep you from getting one, or a scholarship for students who are most prone to all this stuff, it’s going to be a lot worse to your life than an appearance on a national magazine. So if you’re one of these people who want to be like a star, this is one very good reason you can do that. Just act like a good superstar, careful of what you say, but especially what you do that might be caught in photos or videos from anything like cell phones or video cameras, from your friends’ parties to public concerts where people are recording for YouTube sharing. I realize this is a lot harder to do when you’re drunk, but if you keep it on your mind, you might remember every now and then.  And if you doubt what I’m saying about the superstar approach, don’t ever go around thinking you’re not significant enough to ignore it. Sure, you might not be Sean Avery or Britney Spears where people are hanging on your every word and/or action, but to the people possibly hiring you, working with you, or potentially offering you scholarships, you certainly are and they will be hanging on everything you do, especially big corporations and institutions who have something to protect but also have resources to screen your on-line or Facebook presence!

Now, I know teachers who are very wary of this sort of thing because they know their young students are out there on Facebook and in the world with their cameras, and would love to see their teachers doing something inappropriate, whether to see the teacher out of his/her shell or to use it for a joke and to get at the teacher for something. However, even the very best of those who are constantly in the media spotlight, whose job involves the media, forget about this, and that’s why I’m posting this with emphasis.

Just the other day, Jon Favreau, who was  Barack Obama’s chief speechwriter for his campaign season and who likely has some future White House speechwriting role for Obama now that he is President, was in a photo at a party where he posed with his hand grabbing the breast of a life sized cardboard cut out of Senator Hillary Clinton (CNN, Dec 6 2008). To make things worse, it seemed he was the one who posted the photo, even though he’s in it so maybe it was his camera, but maybe it was someone else’s. The article was not clear on that. While Favreau took off the photo just 2 hours after posting, it was reported, and every other photo of himself except his profile, you should also know what’s on Facebook is Facebook property forever so there was no taking it back!

You did know that, right?

Hmm. I’m having doubts on that one. It’s an old topic but maybe I’ll post something about it to tie it into another idea I had. Regardless, you’d best be careful, even the photos you currently have on Facebook even now if you have stardom aspiration of any form, whether as a movie or music star, politician, serial killer or otherwise. Not to worry about Facebook digging up stuff on you cause that’s probably malicious intent you can sue them for, but if it’s there and someone identifies you, copies it to send to media, it’s not Facebook’s fault any more!

So beware of those careless Facebook users around you, whether or not you use Facebook!

Oh, as for Favreau, he did apologize to Senator Hillary Clinton, who has acknowledged his interest in working for the State Department but is still reviewing his application. Hmmm. This should be interesting. Even if he were hired, there are still going to be some awkward moments, I think, especially if she is his boss or client, as in having him write some speeches for her on certain topics every now and then. Let’s see what happens.

Posted in Asia, Canada, European Union, Facebook, Guidelines, Internet, Lifestyle, Nova Scotia, Poll, Social Issues, United Kingdom, United States, World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Institutional Banning of Facebook

Posted by envirostats on Thursday, December 4, 2008

In Canada, the public service and political provincial government of Ontario did it (May 3 2007). The University of Concordia did it (Sep 17 2008). Most recently, the public school system in New Brunswick did it (Nov 21 2008). No, they didn’t fall in love, but rather banned of Facebook so that all of their computers cannot access Facebook.

What do I think of it?

From the institutions’ perspective, sure, why not? All it begets you is computer problems (Koobface virus is the rage at time of posting, Globe & Mail Dec 5 2008), potential wasted staff/student time, the occasional public relations nightmare by your staff/student’s Facebook actions, maybe the odd stalker incident that challenges your security responsiblities, maybe organized protests to tarnish your name or even against you, and who knows what else as the technology develops and people use it in new ways. Given all that, why wouldn’t you ban Facebook?

There is some good that can come from Facebook, but it’s not like you get credit for it cause it’s your staff/students doing it, and unless they were paid to do it, even a good thing can be criticized for time that might or should have been spent doing something else… like their paid work for organizations like government? Government doesn’t need reinforcing of stereotypes about their work ethic, which is wrong for the most part, speaking as an insider.

As for some services you might cut off in banning Facebook, it’s not like your staff’s or students’ lives would be really affected by not having Facebook for a few hours a day. That would be your own disillusion of self-importance. There are other means to get around anything that might be that urgently needed that might be really needed via Facebook.

All and all, there isn’t really a lot of good that an institution can get from allowing Facebook usage on their computers.

Now, as for the user’s claim for freedom of access, information and such, there’s one easy rebuttal to that. It’s not their computer, network, bandwidth or anything like that, so they can shush, to put it politely. Maybe if they were willing to be monitored for time spent, both how much and when, pay for IT services incurred by problems they bring in like Facebook viruses, and so on, then perhaps we can have a discussion. However, I doubt they’d agree to that. Besides, this institutional banning only affects the institution’s computers. All their staff/students can still access Facebook on their computers and some cell phones, so long as they are not using the institution’s networks. It’s not a zone out.

So given these views, do I think Facebook should be banned institutionally?

Surprisingly, my answer is not necessarily, although it borders on the obvious because of proactivity rather than reactivity. You know, the proverbial prevention being better than a cure. However, some might argue that until signs of a problem start showing up, maybe there is no need to do anything about it. It’s not the way I would handle this policy with Facebook problems popping up everywhere of the kinds mentioned since I only gave examples I knew happened. That’s why I had posted my Facebook etiquette posts starting about a month ago. However, I could appreciate the argument, and I’ll leave it at that. Decisions to institutionally ban Facebook would not be popular, but fortunately, I’m nowhere near in the position to make such a decision… just blog about it.


Posted in Canada, Facebook, Guidelines, Internet, Lifestyle, Poll, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Detailed Facebook Etiquette Guide

Posted by envirostats on Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This is a practical guide of some Facebook etiquette you might consider as starting points for your Facebook etiquette decisions. It is an abbreviated version of my three entries on my Facebook etiquette (part 1, part 2, part 3), where details and justifications were shared, and a longer version of my handy one page Practical Facebook Etiquette Guide. Please check those entries if you want to know more about the details and why I suggest some of these points.

Overall approach and mindset for everything
– Be positive all the time, especially with feelings (or avoid negativity if that is more meaningful)
– No swearing, even abbreviated swearing (or not excessively if you do the latter)
– Control privacy setting each time you post something, sharing Only with Friends almost all the time
– Have people in front of whom you need to behave among your Facebook friends as “designated monitors”
– If you do “inappropriate” things on Facebook, come back and delete it later to minimize visibility & damage
– Don’t get caught up in your friends or other people’s inappropriate behaviour, stick to your guns
– Treat your Facebook profile & activity like an informal resumé or media image of yourself, cause it is!

– Decide the minimum amount of what you want to notify others about and set it, not notify everything
– Check off nothing for Privacy, Newsfeed, Wall, and minimize application notification (ex. photos, notes)
– Set Notification Off for applications when you add them, unless they say something positive about you

Profile Visibility
– Use Only Friends privacy setting
– No limited profile access to anyone as if you’re that worried about them, they shouldn’t be your friends
– Profile visibility settings override blocking so blocked people can still see your profile if it is public

– Only people you’ve met in real life, choosing others carefully with validations from others you trust
– There is nothing wrong with rejecting people’s Friends Request on Facebook
– Update your Friends list by purging it once a season or a few times a year

Profile information
– Do not show personal contact information like addresses and home phones, personal cellular, etc.
– Do not list year of your birth (not even birthdays if you can bear it)
– Do not put anything about yourself that is less than flattering unless it’s obvious (ex. you smoke)

– Delete offensive or inappropriate comments, or counter with reply if you don’t want to delete something
– Avoid negative comments about others and especially those at work and/or your workplace
– It’s your Wall so control what shows up there, including notifications from applications & your comments

Status Updates
– Avoid updating more than a few times a day
– Avoid negative comments, especially feelings, news about others and news directed only at certain others
– Be careful about humour because “universal” humour that don’t offend is usually not very liberal

– You can have too many tagged photos of yourself (200 good shots should suffice)
– Untag less than flattering photos tagged by others, weeks after if you want to do it quietly or ask them
– No “inappropriate” photos (ex. sexually suggestive, drunk, obscene acts & gestures, by you or others)
– No photos that suggest bad behaviour even if photos are OK (ex. group shot for questionable activities)

Use Notes to demonstrate something good about you (ex. writing skills, thinking abilities, topic interest)
– Avoid diatribes, attacks on people you know, “survey” Notes (especially stupid or personal info ones)
– If you use Notes as a journal, realize it is a public journal and not a private diary

– Don’t tag others in things you wouldn’t want to be tagged if it were you being tagged (ex. bad photo)
– Don’t tag others in things you don’t think they’d want to be tagged (their standards may be stricter)

– Be selective where you comment, avoiding Walls & status unless you want all of someone’s friends to see it
– Think of all comments as being public to all and behave accordingly with your comments
– Avoid swearing, even in abbreviated form, doing it sparsely if you have to and maybe removing it later
– Avoid inappropriate comments, especially if you don’t know what someone’s “limits” are
– Remove someone’s comments from anything belonging to you if it’s beyond your “limits”

– Minimize Applications that play with your friends because they will take up a lot of your time
– Ask if an Application will benefit you and your profile image before adding (learning Applications are good)
– If an Application has few users, that’s a good sign not to sign up (check later to see if it becomes popular)
– Turn off Notifications on Applications unless it is something you really want to share, and not too often
– Scrutinize Applications invites and learn to say “no”

Groups and Fan Pages
You will be judged guilty by association so be careful the Groups and Fan Pages you join
– Learn about who is behind the Groups and especially Fan Pages, and avoid “unauthorized” ones
– Update and purge your Groups and Fan Pages a few times a year, especially for dead or bad ones
– Scrutinize Group invites and learn to say “no”

Creating Your Facebook Etiquette
– Reread these guidelines, decide and make note how you’d alter them to create your Facebook etiquette
– Write out or type your Facebook etiquette because doing this really helps people remember commitments
– Put your etiquette somewhere easily accessible (ex. by your computer, post & bookmark, write a note)

Damage Control
– Go through your profile and make adjustments, bit by bit, to make your profile suit your etiquette
– Go back to your past actions (or recent past, especially those visible on your Wall now) and fix accordingly
– Recall any glaring or nasty back actions, or at any time that you do in the future, find and fix accordingly

Future Practices
– Keep in mind what you committed to for your etiquette, and check against your posting of them to be sure
– Revise your etiquette where and when necessary as Facebook will change with new features & new threats
– Once in a while, ask someone who is honest with you to tell you the impression they get from your profile
– Until that impression is something you are happy with, keep fixing your profile

Please share with your Facebook friends & check this posting for periodic updates.

If you would like an abbrievated one page version of the most important points here, in my opinion, please have a look at my Practical Facebook Etiquette (Netiquette) Guide entry (with PDF), where you can customize your own Facebook etiquette. Please feel free to share this or other postings on this blog, as well as files. I will be happy to share my thoughts on any questions you might have relating to Facebook etiquette if you leave a comment.

Thank you very much for reading.

Facebook in Real Life

Posted in Facebook, Guidelines, Internet, Lifestyle, Social Issues, World | Tagged: , , | 9 Comments »

A Practical Facebook Etiquette (Netiquette) Guide

Posted by envirostats on Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Practical Facebook Etiquette Guide

A Practical Facebook Etiquette Guide

For a printable version of these guideline text in this post, please click on the PDF link below to download.

A Practical Facebook Netiquette Guide, by Minh Tan [23 kB PDF] (last updated Nov 19 2008)

For additional and more comprehensive content on the topics within this post, please see My Facebook Etiquette posts, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and A Detailed Facebook Etiquette Guide. Additionally, avoid potential Facebook trouble when around careless Facebook users.

This document is now also available in Spanish. Many thanks to David Iza for translating!

This post was noted the blog of Regina Lewis of the Do-It-Yourself Network on Nov 19, 2008.



On-line presence profiling, especially on-line social networking with Facebook, is becoming more common as schools and employers screen potential employees and scholarship recipients in yet one more category in their selection processes. This is especially important for teenagers and students who are often too casual in their on-line social networking, with emphasis on Facebook as a dominant player in the market.

This is a practical guide of Facebook etiquette, or “Netiquette”, you can use to customize your Facebook Netiquette. As you read it, check off what you agree, note where and how you want to differ, then create your Facebook Netiquette by writing or typing out all the new guidelines to help you remember them. Put it somewhere easily accessible and/or visible to you for easy reference as you Facebook. Doing this in a group with your friends and/or Parents might also be effective.

Overall Tone
Avoid negativity, especially with feelings and anything about other people

No swearing, even if positively and abbreviated like LMFAO (or not excessively if you do)

Learn to say NO to invitations (Friends, Applications, Groups, certain events not good to publicize)

Do as little as possible, preferably not at all, not the least because poking is so “old school”

Profile Privacy
Set your profile to Only Friends privacy, giving nobody limited access as they should not be your Friend

Only have Friends you’ve met in person, and purge your list a few times a year as friendships fade

Have people in front of whom you need to behave among your Facebook friends as “designated monitors”

Contact Information
Do not list personal contact information (ex. address, phone #, birth year, specific job locations like store)

Don’t update your status more than a few times a day, avoiding statuses directed at one or few people

Defend your Wall by deleting inappropriate comments or counter with reply if you don’t want to delete

Keep tagged photos of yourself under 200, untag the less flattering and inappropriate ones

Minimize tagging to let people tag themselves in photos, and don’t tag anyone in unflattering ways

Use Notes to share something genuine, avoiding personal attacks, “self-surveys” and diatribes

Be selective where you comments, expecting it to be public and what you comment for proper manners

Post Privacy
Control privacy setting each time you post something, sharing Only with Friends most of the time

Minimize Notifications sent, turning off for Applications when adding unless their news are worth sharing

Minimize Applications, especially inappropriate ones, games that waste time, or ones with few users

Groups & Fan Pages
Check details of Groups and Fan Pages before you join, especially for authenticity (ex. authorized pages)

Media/Legal Privacy
Don’t start, join or invite others to groups or pages with news or names withheld by media or law, until after release

Damage Control
Go through your profile and make adjustments to make your profile suit your Netiquette rules, bit by bit

Profile Impression
Occasionally, ask someone for an honest impression they get from your profile and fix it till you’re happy

If you do “inappropriate” things on Facebook, come back and delete it later to minimize visibility & damage

Purging to Update
Purge things a few times a year (ex. bad or outdated photos, Friends, Groups, Fan Pages, Notes, comments)

Don’t get caught up in other people’s inappropriate behaviour, stick to your Netiquette & update it as needed

Overall Approach
Treat your Facebook profile & activity like an informal resumé or media image of yourself, cause it is!

Please share with all you know who Facebook and check this link for periodic updates.


Please feel free to leave comments and I will do my best to give an answer.

Facebook in Real Life

Posted in Facebook, Guidelines, Internet, Lifestyle, Poll, Social Issues, World | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 24 Comments »