I’ve been studying physics. For me to understand any of the science and newer theories, such as “string theory”, I try to picture it in my head. Have you tried to imagine what a blown apart atom looks like or the so-called “11 dimensions” that string theory strives to prove? Why do I even care?

Have you noticed how one dimensional social networking is? Or how the sense of Time feels awkward when you crank up Twitter and see comments from “0 seconds” ago, “4 hours ago” or the huge gaps of nothingness that occurs in Space when Twitter goes down and all is silent? You just know that in another dimension somewhere, somebody is trying to type into Twirl, only to get the message saying the message quota is on overload. We can’t see the people banging their desks, but we know they’re there.

We also can’t see the performance engineers sweating over Twitter server load balancing issues. We do get to see a picture of a whale, for reasons I never understood, when Twitter is down. Our senses are out of earshot to all the users screaming that Twitter isn’t there for them to talk about their dinner, the cat sleeping on their head or the next blog post they just uploaded. That dimension exists. We know it does. We can feel it and even participate in the ruckus for a universal, communal “HOLY CRAP” moment.

Ethics

I just said a word I spent years telling my kids they weren’t permitted to say, but they do anyway. This small action is now open to the public and I am subjected to the court of online ethical behavior.

Was it ethical for me to say “crap” in my blog? Why is she talking about physics in an SEO and Usability blog? Will my business suffer because I went off-topic? How many people will race to their computers to write a post calling me names or questioning my sanity?

I’ve done it. I may see a blog post or comment and think, “Whoa! Who spiked their peach tea?” Is it ethical for me to pass judgment on them? Is it within my rights as a citizen of the Internet to complain about someone I take issue with, for whatever issue I believe they violated?

In the whole life scheme of things, is it more valuable for me to manipulate public opinion or ponder the beauty of flower petals?

At Cre8asiteforums, we’re talking about ethics and reputation management for business and people in a thread called Online Ethics – What Say You? There’s lots of ground to cover when it comes to ethics and I don’t for a minute think I’m educated on all of it, nor am I free from dents and lack of wisdom. I asked some questions and the answers and feedback go everywhere.

There are ethics issues like justice, freedom, values, consent and trust. For me personally, trust is huge. It’s why I don’t “friend” everyone who comes along my path in some online social sites. For some reason it’s assumed that I “should” be everyone’s friend because I’m someone else’s friend or run forums or own a business. I disagree. And if I’m manipulated to be a “friend”, I respond by forming my body into an ice cube. Earn my trust. Don’t pretend you know me.

Ethics includes animal rights, the environment, human rights, legal issues, business standards, marketing, religion and Internet ethics, the latter which is still in the discovery stage. The key thing about these ethics is they change and evolve. To early Native Americans, it was unethical to believe that the land belonged to people and could be sold or traded for. To them, there was enough land for everyone. And yet their integrity came into question because they didn’t believe in the same God as the white man, who apparently told HIS people that land was not free.

Who was right?

In theory, ethics represent “good”. It’s good to be kind. It’s bad to call people names. It’s good to investigate and document experiences. It’s bad to engage in revenge tactics and try to influence opinions without facts to back it up.

In the forums thread, I talked about our rule about not attacking people or businesses by name. It’s been the number one rule. While we know Community members practice this behavior on their sites, we don’t permit it on ours. Why? Because everyone is responsible for their own experience and interaction. Everyone’s situation is different. While it’s true many hosting companies are total rip-off’s, they don’t mess up every single account. Some customers get along fine with no problems to report. In the case, however, of RegisterFly, who created a riot with their customer service violations, the sheer majority and scope of the bad experiences supplied enough proof that something was terribly wrong there.

Personally, I have no impulse to cause anyone financial, emotional and physical harm. I try to not speak unkindly online of my industry peers. Some deserve to be slapped around. My choice is to ignore them or in some cases, support their good actions and not support their bad decisions.

Do you have a personal code of ethics? Is your business committed to integrity, quality and customer relations? How do you communicate this online? Can you control what others say about you or your company? No, you can’t. When I found my own business appear with a negative statement about me by someone who never used my services and has never met me, I was stunned. I wondered if I had legal recourse.

When did it become acceptable to purposely and systematically wreak reputation havoc on a company you never did business with?

Recently I learned of a linking practice based on purposeful deception. The idea is to leave logical, helpful, polite comments in blogs and earn the blog owner’s trust. Some bloggers will learn to trust the commenter and let them post comments at will, with no moderation. Suddenly and without warning, the commenter begins to spam by linking to “bad” sites and writing comments that are completely uncharacteristic and uncalled for. This behavior is becoming an actual business practice. When does this sloppy treatment stop?

One of my favorite discoveries with my forays into physics, science and spirituality is the theory that at the very basic of core of our Beingness, we’re all made of the exact same Thing. A teeny tiny microscopic part of us is part of the One Thing that made it all possible in the first place. We share this thing. We can’t see it, can’t measure it, can’t hold it in our hands and can’t manipulate it to be different than It is.

Not only that, the computer you’re using to read this has that same invisible Thing in it. “We are all Relatives”, Native Americans believe. They include the two-legged (us), four-legged, rocks, plants, sky, and The Ancestors, who are technically dead but possibly in another dimension, so we just can’t go to the movies with them.

So if you spread hate and think ill thoughts or force anyone to do something they don’t wish to do, you’re hating and forcing yourself as well.

The reputation you try to manage may someday be your own.

Splintering SEO and Usability
What Do You Want To Know About Web Site Usability?

cre8pc

Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101

Member:

American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)

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