Manners online and forum/ platform culture

Manners online and forum/ platform culture – are they the same?

manners online and on social mediaThere have recently been some discussions about the culture of social media sites and this sometimes gets confused with “manners” – but are they the same thing?

In the real world as children and young adults we learn how to act with politeness, respect, and courtesy.

However in the virtual world or world of social media, manners are still developing.

This slideshare shows some great tips for social media manners online:

Manners Online – definition

Lets look at a common definition on manners:

mannersplural of man·ner (Noun)
A way in which a thing is done or happens: “taking notes in an unobtrusive manner”.


Manners are something used every day to make a good impression on others and to feel good about oneself. No matter where you are – at home, work, or with friends – practicing good manners is important.

Good manners are more than opening doors and writing thank you notes. While opening doors for others and writing notes is nice, true courtesy goes deeper. Being polite and courteous means considering how others are feeling.

If you practice good manners, you are showing those around you that you are considerate of their feelings and respectful. You are also setting standards for others’ behavior and encouraging them to treat you with similar respect.

Every culture and individual may have different rules or feelings about what is polite or is not polite. Source:

So having manners (online or in real life) refers to the kind and polite way of doing things. and it works both ways. So is it better to remove someones comment from a blog or forum thread – or publicly ridicule the individual for their behaviour…. that may be a difficult one. Is that showing manners online?

Manners Online

So maybe online manners are linked to culture after all.

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So if a person goes to the effort to create an article or blog – is it good manners to:

  • Add a constructive comment
  • To build on the discussion
  • To provide a different view
  • To use ones presence to take the comments into a different direction

All of these actions could be considered good or bad manners- it depends not on the person and the comment, but on the purpose of the site/ topic/ content, or even how that article is “filed”. For example if someone writes a post and it is “for information” and it is accurate – then there is no debate. But if that person proposes a discussion on that topic, then it is good manners to add, discuss, explore.

So manners online, be they good or bad are context specific. We cannot apply the same rules to each person or behaviour, universally across all platforms. We value and need diversity throughout the ongoing transitions and evolution.

So on sites like ecademy, UKbusinessforums and other “professional” platforms or environments what we say, or how we contribute, should be dependent on the context of the original posting – its title, content, comments WITHIN the original post (i.e. direction what the author is looking for) or how that is filed – business, social, debate question etc.. What we can “get away with” on facebook, will be different from Twitter and from the other platforms. Each has its own unique and evolving culture – or social norms.

The good news is that in general, these are often diversifying, and not converging, thus adding to the rich pot that is social media and diversity as a whole.

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Deleting blog comments – manners online?

So if a person deletes a post from their blog by another that they believe is poor manners, is that rude? Well that depends on the prevailing culture. What once MAY have been acceptable by some – under a new change of direction may no longer be acceptable or welcomed.
Its not personal, but maybe its a part of the feedback or learning process.

For it is said the dinosaurs died out because they failed to adapt, social media is like that, its changing all the time. What was once “the done thing” on twitter, now is just not the done thing. Platforms and populations change. Sometimes those populations move to different groups and platforms – sometimes that culture is sustained, sometimes it slowly dies out.

Its a bit like the old saying, if you want to be successful, socialise with successful people, and stop (or at least minimise) socialising with the people from your “old world” – social media is very much the same.

Commenting on the blogs of others

Erica has this great post about etiquette or manners when commenting on others blog and gives the following tips:

1. Be specific.
2. Don’t leave a link to your blog
3. Stay on topic
4. Be nice
5. Keep it brief

Common Sense?

Social media and manners online – are they like common sense – (manners online) in that we all think we have it, but are often suprised by the lack in others? online manners is not a fixed set of behaviours, they are context specific!

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Your Thoughts on Manners Online

What do you think? are manners universal? are manners in the eye of the beholder? are there universally acceptable behaviours withing all social media platforms, or are there different cultures, and that culture may change from time to time, based either on society or on the direction the owners of that community set?

About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike provides training & development in senior management, leadership, change management & other strategic programs to an international client base.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.

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