The Ethics of Posting on Bulletin Boards: You Decide

Gray GhostSenior Writer IFebruary 2, 2009

In the past few weeks, I have read quite a bit on B/R about how one should, or should not, go about establishing himself here as a writer.

There has been a great deal said about people who post their articles on other people's bulletin boards, and there seems to be a bit of banter about those who have reached “Senior Writer” status and whether they are deserving of such a title.

There are certain guidelines on B/R that most of us are well aware of. Those state that we are not “to contribute any Content that is infringing, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, abusive, offensive” and can be found under “User Content” in the Terms of Use. Posting on someone’s board does not fall under any of those prohibited activities.

What most of this really boils down to is ethics, and since the founders of this wonderfully open forum have not chiseled out these ethical guidelines for us, it is up to each of us to decide for ourselves what our ethical parameters will be.

When I first discovered B/R and began writing my first articles, I began just like everyone else does on this site. I was a newbie. If you care to go back and look at my early articles, you will see that in two of them I garnered a whopping four comments apiece.

I think that my “America vs. China! When The World Goes Home” article was one of my best, but only 14 people commented on it. I wasn’t exactly burning up the reads either.

One of the things that is essential in feeling at home here is realizing that it is more than just about writing ability. It is great if you have been blessed with the ability to craft words into a picture, but B/R is more than just a sports section of a daily paper.

This is a community of people. I found that as I got out into the community and read other people's articles and commented on what they had written, I began to meet people and develop relationships.

If you stay indoors all the time and never find out who is living in your neighborhood, no one is going to know who you are, nor will they ever hear what you have to say.

When I was a boy growing up in the south, every house had a front porch, and after supper (that’s the evening meal), families would sit outside together. Sometimes the neighbors would come over and sit a spell. We knew everyone in our neighborhood! Nowadays, most people have no idea who lives two doors down from them.

Hermits impact no one. My best advice to those of you who are trying to get established here is to get out of the house and meet the neighbors.

As I began to walk the streets of this cyber-community and meet people, I began to gain some friends and pick up some fans, and as I wrote articles I posted to their boards, and they posted to mine. I wanted them to post me because I was interested in them and in what they had to say.

I do not think that is “whoring out” articles, nor do I consider it “prostituting” one’s writing integrity. We write to be read, and every author promotes their book. I write because I love it, but I love it most when it reaches a heart or brings a smile. An unread book touches no one.

Whether or not posting is ethical should be determined on an individual basis between the poster and the posted. If you don’t want to be posted, say so. That is your privilege, and it should be respected and honored.

My ethical boundary is this: I only post on the walls of those who have signed on as a fan. I ask them to do the same for me. I also realize that I can’t always get to every article I am posted with. I do my best, but can’t feel guilty about those I don’t get to read.

As for the “Senior Writers,” I am one. You made me one. I could write until I am blue in the face, but if you weren’t kind enough to read my articles and gracious enough to give me a POTD once in a while, I wouldn’t wear that label on my profile.

I write and comment, not according to what I am, but according to who I am. I have spent my entire adult life trying to encourage people, and that is not fabricated—it is who I am. I have no desire to be condescending and arrogant. All ground is equal as far as I am concerned.

I respect you regardless of whether you are a Senior Writer, an Analyst, a Contributor, or even a Gator (it hurts to say that!). I don’t care if you are a high school senior or a college professor; I will read what you write and will treat you with respect.

I want you to know that your friendship means more to me than any ranking I may be given, or any accolades that may come my way. Thanks...and feel free to post me any time!