I’ve never been one for rules, but in preparing to take on a new RCG contributor, I thought it might be a good time to articulate some of the informal rules that we seem to have developed on the site in order to bring together such an interesting crew (often with competing interests!)
But first… Let’s be clear that there are no formal rules. And I definitely enjoy watching contributors “break” the unwritten rules because they almost always get immediate (and rarely pleasant) feedback from the community.
Here are the only two “rules” that come to mind:
- If you are going to attack something… attack ideas, not people. (i.e. “your idea sucks”… not “you suck”)
- Avoid obvious self-promotion.
The first rule is just a modified version of a rule from my mother with regards to the way I needed to treat my little sisters… (I was allowed to say to them “you did a bad thing”… but never “you are a bad person”). It’s pretty simple advice that I inevitably regret when I forget to obey.
An interesting related piece of advice from my mother is that I was never allowed to say “no” to my younger sisters, but rather I always had to say “instead”, as in “instead of playing with that, here is a toy you’ll find interesting.” Combine those two bits of advice and you get the essence of good blogging: Passionate challenging of ideas while providing interesting solutions.
The second rule is much more art than science and I can’t blame new bloggers for crossing the line on this too often. Obvious self-promotion looks bad and is an real turn-off for most consumers. I’m a huge believer in treating my readers like they are intelligent and savvy enough to know that the typical professional is blogging in order to earn business. If the consumer likes your attitude and style, they will choose you when looking for an professional without the need to constantly prompt them. One of the reasons I put all the contact information for active contributors on the sidepanel is because I think it is classier if I do the promotion for the contributors than if they try to do it for themselves…
By the way, one trick I recommend for new real estate agents to help stay away from the self-promotion angle is to make sure there is always at least one link in their posts that references an idea of someone else. The link could be to a news article, but preferably it is another blog post. (A ton of credit for promoting this idea goes to Greg as I’m not sure I would have realized this advice was novel without his encouragement…)
Linking does two things: 1) It adds credibility to your post because it demonstrates that you’re knowledgeable and follow many different real estate discussions and 2) it ensures that you’re part of the larger “real estate” conversation on the web.
This seems like a great topic to turn back on the community. Are these two “rules” sufficient to run a community? Are there other “rules” I encourage/enforce without realizing it? I would definitely enjoy everyone’s feedback! (but remember to attack my ideas and not me or I’ll delete your comment! LOL!)
Rhonda reminded me of a third “rule” I advice to new bloggers. I also request that contributors DO NOT post the same article on their blogs. This has two purposes: 1) It helps ensure that the articles they are writing are relevant to the RCG audience and 2) the duplicate posts are extremely bad SEO for the contributor’s website (There’s a long history behind this as more than one RCG contributor has temporarily lost all Google traffic to their personal blog after republishing all their RCG articles… The search engines, and Google in particular, hate this duplicate content and end up temporarily banning the agent’s site).