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Posting Tips

Here's a list of tips you'll want to DO

Be clear about the subject in the message subject line

What's the first thing you look at when you receive an e-mail? Likely, it's the subject line. When posting to an online community, it is good practice to incorporate a descriptive subject in the subject line of the e-mail message; a summary of the main point. The subject should be the overall topic of the post or even a question that needs answering. Note that many people will not read your message unless they are attracted to the description in the subject line. A good subject line is helpful to others who sort their messages. Note that certain anti-spam software will block e-mail with trigger words like Free, Urgent, Sex, or with a series of !!!!!!!!!! or ........ When replying to a message from a digest, be sure to click the 'Reply to List' link at the bottom of the post so that your response gets the proper subject line attached. This also ensures that your post will be on the web.

Listen and learn - no need to respond to every post

Part of the learning process of online communities is listening and learning from the varied posts. There is no need to reply to every post, especially with one line comments (i.e. Great post., Nice Job., Excellent!, Thank You!). They do not add valuable content to the group and take up a large amount of space in digests and fill up inboxes with e-mails for those using immediate delivery.

Participate. The community wants and needs your unique talent, perspective and knowledge

With Online Communities, people are connected to people. This is a powerful force; remember no one is as smart as everyone. Contributing to topics and posts in the communities you participate in is crucial. By sharing your experiences within a certain topic, another member might be given insight to solving a problem or question. You can gain a large amount of knowledge by "lurking": but by contributing when you have knowledge and experience, you can play a key role in the professional development of the entire community.

Keep an open mind - allow others "to be wrong" and "give them the win" when they are right

Virtual relationships and communications can be similar to real life interactions. As in your day to day relationships, it's best to keep an open mind with people's comments and beliefs. There is no need to convince others that your opinion is better than theirs. There is no sense in going back and forth within the community over a point of view or comment, especially when it does not contribute to the community and in fact detracts from the conversation. It is best to 'Agree to Disagree' and move on to new territory, especially if you find yourself engaged in a two-party conversation. In essence you are 'giving them the win', but in most cases it is the best choice. Be civil and avoid personal attacks. Here's a good example:

Jim wrote: Disagree. It is open source. That is a classical conundrum. Is it > better if you do it in the open and everyone gets to back check...or > is it better to hide the operational principles in the dark abyss of > corporate trade secrets?

Let's agree to disagree... :-)

We both have our views and could argue our views with good points--as you have. But, in the end they are our own opinions. Let's save it for an interesting side conversation at a convention some day...

Let's get back to Real Estate.... I need to learn more!


Be open and honest, as you would if speaking at a town hall meeting

The old adage of "Honesty is the best policy" holds true within online communities. Inflating your sales figures or adding erroneous certifications and designations to your signature are practices that should be avoided as they do not add value to the community. Your online persona should be important to you - it can help expand your business and your contacts, but you need to carefully nurture it.

Be concise with your e-mail signature.

Perhaps use a shorter signature for your community postings - this is especially true for digests because the signatures can take up a significant portion of the digest and use up unnecessary bandwidth. It is generally acceptable to have up to five lines for your personal signature (you can include several items per line). Any more is probably advertising and will add unwanted length to posts. Include your e-mail address in your signature, even though it may appear in the 'From' address (especially if you use your branded domain). Example: John Doe, REALTOR®,e-PRO®, CRS, GRI Honolulu, Hawaii 808-675-9898 http://JohnDoeREALTOR.com MailTo:John@JohnDoeREALTOR.com

Become a better communicator as a result of the practice you get participating in community

Improve your writing skills to make your point. One of the many benefits of participating in online communities is the ability to become a better communicator as a result of trying to get your point of view across to other members in concise messages. When posts become too lengthy, they often get overlooked. Try using shorter paragraphs, with a blank line between paragraphs. Try to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation - it will help create a good first impression. Posting and replying to messages will improve your writing skills. As a result, you will become an e-mail powerhouse, which in turn will help your communications with current and potential customers.

Share willingly of your expertise and experience

Online communities benefit from the sharing of information. Information can be shared by composing crisp, concise messages and by inserting hypertext links into your message, to direct the members to a specific web site for more information. If you reference a website, check to make sure the URL link works before you make the post to the Listserv - that shows concern for the time of others. Members become frustrated if the links do not work or are not the correct URL (web site address). To ensure that the links do work and are the correct URL, follow these steps: 1. To make sure you are getting the exact URL for the web page that has the information you want to share, place your cursor on the web page you want, 'RIGHT' click the mouse, and click on 'Properties'. You can then copy the URL noted and paste it into your message. If the URL is very long, surround it with angle brackets to lessen problems with line breaks. 2. After you paste the URL into your message, hit the space bar, which will make the text blue and underlined in and thus clickable. If you need to add a period(.) at the end of the link, simply backspace once and then insert the period.Note: The period should remain black in color versus the blue, underlined text of the link.

Follow the "Rules of the Road"

  1. Refrain from obscenities
  2. Don't violate any laws, including copyright, antitrust, licensing, defamation and libel, as well as, state/federal/local laws and regulations affecting electronic communications. This probably includes the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, if you happen to be a REALTOR®.
  3. Don't violate client confidentiality. You never know who might be listening. Messages can be forwarded, left on printers, etc. Change names to protect the innocent, and you. A general rule of thumb is "don't put anything in an e-mail message that you would not want published on the front page of the New York Times."
  4. Absolutely no copyright violations when posting. This means writings, software, etc. "Fair use" and reprinting with permission is OK, but that's it. Reread point 2.
  5. No personal attacks or defamatory remarks. You can disagree and still treat the other person with dignity.
  6. No personal attacks or defamatory remarks. Send them a private message rather than a public disparagement.
  7. Be concise, unless conciseness isn't called for.
  8. Don't post personal messages to one or two people on the forum. There are many others who will be reading this Digest. Use direct E-mail to respond to one person unless the response would be of interest to many of our participants. One of our goals at RealTown is that each of us make many new friends all over the country.
  9. If you use them, disable vCard electronic business cards and any Return Receipts.
  10. Before you reply to something in the forum, proof and edit before sending and make sure you only quote a few lines rather than the entire digest/posting to which you respond.
  11. No blatant advertising or marketing allowed. It's ok to let other members know what you do in your signature or tagline, especially if you are contributing to the conversation. Anyone that drops in out of nowhere and posts an advertisement to the community may be removed at the discretion of the Community Admins.
  12. Signature and tagline should be brief, no more than 5 lines especially if you post to the list frequently.
  13. You understand that RealTown may repurpose and redistribute material you contribute and you grant RealTown and InternetCrusade a perpetual license to republish the material at their sole discretion.
  14. Don't harvest e-mail addresses to solicit business from community members.

Here's a list of tips you DO NOT want to do

Don't quote more than necessary

Don't reply to a message leaving the entire original message intact, if you are replying to a long post, you should quote only a few lines, just the part relevant to what you are posting. Include only the key information you're responding to, and cut-out the rest. Quote sparingly, use just a 'snipit' of the digest versus replying and having the whole digest in the reply.

Don't send private messages to the community.

Limit your discusssions to topics that appeal to the community itself. If your response only applies to the original sender, send a private message to them at their e-mail address, as opposed to hitting reply and sending your message to everyone else on the list. Members often conduct very productive networking off the list as well, by means of private e-mail messages Use common sense when posting to the community. You have the option of responding to the entire community, or member directly. The content of your message should determine which of these you choose. Avoid sending the "me-too posts" that say things like "I agree" or "Welcome, George" when it is better to send a private note to George.. To avoid sending messages to the entire community by mistake, use the 'Reply to List' or 'Reply to Sender' links at the bottom of the post

Don't flame other members of the community

Respect other member's opinions. If you disagree, do so politely without rudeness or hostility. Exercise common courtesy; do not resort to personal insults. By definition an e-mail message sent to the community that is especially harsh in its treatment of another member or members of the community is a 'flame'. This type of message is frowned upon by most online communities and is usually part of the "Dont's" portion of the Rules. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with another's statement or opinion but there is no room for personal attacks on a public forum - keep to the facts and the issues. If you feel you must flame or reprimand another member of the community, do it privately rather than publicly.

Don't USE ALL CAPS - it is considered shouting on the Internet

The use of ALL CAPS letters in community posts is considered shouting, and therefore rude. Another problem with ALL CAPS is that it is harder to read than mixed case. Below are two examples of the same post, illustrating the difference between mixed case and ALL CAPS.

Don't require a "Read Receipt" to your postings.

It is considered by some as a way to steal the list of participant's addresses, which is frowned upon as a member of the community. It may also subject you to multiple receipts - you will receive a receipt for every person who reads each message you post. In many cases subscribers to a community do not realize that their 'Read Receipt' is turned on. This feature is usually an annoyance for other subscribers. To avoid having your posts become a nuisance, consult your 'Help' menu in your e-mail client to turn off the 'Read Reciept'.

Don't re-publish any message without obtaining permission from the author.

Don't re-publish any message sent to you privately that expresses the desire not to be published. Don't re-publish a message with a copyright without obtaining permission from the author. Occasionally a subscriber to the community may contact you directly for further discussion or information on a particular subject. These discussions are considered private and it is a common courtesy to not re-publish any message or material sent to you privately, especially if the subscriber expresses the desire not to be republished.

Don't hog the stage or beat a discussion to death.

Do let other members share their experiences. You don't have to comment on every message posted - save your best for those issues most important to you. The most effective Communities for professionals are the ones that publish good content, as opposed to the one-line Chat-room variety. Part of the learning process of online communities is listening and learning from the various posts. There is no need to reply to every post, especially with one line comments (i.e. Great post., Nice Job., Excellent!, Thank You!). They do not add valuable content to the group and take up space in digests and fill up inboxes with e-mails for those using immediate delivery. Send something like that directly to the person you are complimenting. When replying to a post, make sure your response is clear, concise, and contains relevant content.

Don't send messages with attachments

The Community will not accept attachments, not even in the form of an electronic signature known as a vCard. If you have the vCard feature turned on, it's best to turn it off while sending to the community.

Don't use an auto-responder

Don't subscribe to the community with an e-mail address that utilizes an auto-responder or vacation message. If you do, please disable the auto-responder for any e-mails you receive from RealTown.com