We were honored to attend Soularize in San Diego last week. We were amazed by the speakers (several of whom you will be hearing from on this site soon). We loved connecting with a lot of folks we’ve only interacted with on Twitter previously. There were even a couple people at the event who had never heard of us, which, you know, stung a bit. (kidding!)
The first day of the event we led a workshop about what we do here at Two Friars and a Fool: foment interesting conversation in a virtual pub atmosphere. We were so pleased with how the workshop went down that we’re sharing a piece of it with you here today. Since even we aren’t narcissistic enough to record videos talking about this post which talks about what we were talking about when we talked at Soularize, the videos below are brief reflections on other aspects of what was truly an excellent event.
With no further preamble: 10 ‘Commandments’ of the Thriving Virtual Pub
1. An it harm none, laugh as thou wilt
As the Martian learns in Stranger in a Strange Land, we very often laugh because of pain – laughter can even redeem our pain, if we let it. But if you wouldn’t inflict pain with a punch in the face, why would you inflict pain with humor? Stop that. If you would inflict pain with a punch in the face, please take that somewhere else. Because, ow.
2. Laugh unto others as you laugh unto yourself
You are funny, believe me. Not intentionally – we are all working hard not to laugh at you, you big goofball. If you can laugh at yourself, it will be a lot easier for the rest of us.
3. Knowest thou thy audience
What’s funny in one situation is a threat or a wounding blow in another situation. If you’re thinking “When can I tell my favorite racist/sexist/homophobic joke”, the answer is “Shut up.” But there are definitely things you can say with rapport among friends that you would never say at a meeting. As much as I want to repeat everything Louis CK says, I know I can’t, because life isn’t a comedy club. Yet.
4. Do not arm thyself with rhetoric, but let your words be hammered into plowshares.
Words are tools that can be put to a variety of uses. On the internet rhetorical techniques become our battlements built to protect us from disagreement, and our armory designed to help us “win” engagements. Good community won’t flourish on a battlefield. Avoid hyperbole, leading questions, appeals to authority, or one-upmanship. Any interaction where you are more concerned with scoring points than making a connection won’t lead anywhere fruitful.
5. Seek ye not the esteem of your tweeps.
No one is impressed with credentials on the internet. Don’t waste your time or ours sharing your detailed curriculum vitae, proving how knowledgeable you are with obscure references, or name-dropping so that we know how many important people you are friends with. Neither should you obsess over how many likes you can get on Facebook, or retweets on Twitter, or hits on your blog. The easy methods of generating traffic like courting controversy do not help build community.
6. Learnest thou to love the taste of thine own crow.
Apologize regularly and often. Change your mind when you are compelled to and concede the point when someone points out your mistakes. Moreover, do all this publicly. Make a habit of admitting where you are wrong (and assume it will happen frequently) and you will earn the trust of wise people who will listen when you speak, knowing you to be amenable to correction.
7. Render unto no one flame for flame.
What you say to someone who disagrees with you sets the tone for your site. Presume the person has good intent. You may think “screw you” but say “interesting, do you want to elaborate?” Who knows, maybe they didn’t mean to offend you, or maybe they did and it will test your ability to welcome them into the conversation.
8. Send Trolls back to their bridges.
Occasionally you meet a person who does not wish to be welcomed, but only wants to burn down your fun. Abusive people will hurt your friends and guests. Failing to bounce those who need to be bounced will invite more trouble. No one likes to set rules, but set a few. Think minimal, but fair.
9. Prepare ye an extra place-setting at thy table.
If you wish others to join you on your journey make room for them. Follow the example set by Rublev’s icon of the Trinity, include your reader/viewer in the conversation. The three figures in the painting are in a circle, yet they are not closed in upon themselves. They are opened towards the one looking at the icon: drawing them into their relationship.
10. Thou shalt visit http://tfaaf.wpengine.com and comment thereupon weekly.