Over the last few years there have been several rule sets written for Web 2.0, rules for social media, and rules for social networking. Rules, rules, rules. Yet, new web sites repeatedly make mistakes that are entirely borne of not paying attention to these rule sets.
It took me only about an hour this morning to overpopulate my del.icio.us archives with rules. Dozens of them.
I started thinking about this today, after Ben Newman left a comment on my Evil Spock post. Ben was responding to Andrey Golub's comment before his. Andrey was making the case that Spock was pure web 2.0 and a search engine and therefore was exempt from the moral implications of data misuse. (Which frankly shocked me so much, I never commented back.)
Ben said it better than I would have:
The problem isn't that 2.0 is evil, the problem is that the Spock platform seems to ignore one of the most critical aspects of any online community — the ability to know where information comes from.
The problem is there are about 100 rules now, splashed across the Internet. If only to get a handle on them myself, I thought I'd make a distilled list of rules.
Here's the big huge map of ones by Jimmy Wales, Dion Hinchcliffe, David Chartier, Visionary Marketing and the 5-turned-17 started by Influential Marketing. You'll have to click on this puppy to read it.
All together, these seem more like the Tax Code of Social Media than they do a set of design tenets.
Let's try to get them down to some good ol' Moses-style pithy. You'd need an airlift to get these tablets of them mountain.
So here they are. It's the web, feel free to turn these into 8 million rules again. :-)
I folded all of the previous ones into these families and gave them some categories. But, just like there's apparently a lot of gray area around commandments like "Thou Shalt Not Kill", there are elements of these commandments as well.
So, the elements are:
Web 2 and social media applications need to build extensible, self-organizing tools. Developers need to give the users the freedom to use the basic application. Also APIs and feeds are standard practice for all sites, all pages and all searches. In the end, listening to user needs and quickly responding to them in text or in action is vital.
Users need to feel a connection with Web 2 and social media sites. A lot of this is through "Being Real" - your site needs a personality of its own and personalities behind it. I know that my personal use of sites like Platial and Yelp were greatly enhanced by their community advocates. The cohort of friendliness is honesty. Every list talked about transparency in one form or another. Users need to feel that you are dealing straight with them.
Nice people are by nature respectful and ethical. The Nice elements fall into ranges between the two. You want to reward people for everything you can think of, you want to treat them well (talk nicely, don't forget them) and you want to give them gifts in the form of good services. You want to share anything you have with them and always be respectful of their content and their identity.
You are the creator of this microworld. You need to participate, you need to facilitate. You have to show up for your own party. Communities grow, so you need to nourish them. Don't let them grow too quickly, seed conversations and participate to keep them flowing, encourage real collaboration, reward good deeds, and allow users to edit nearly everything. Help your content travel throughout the Internet, let ideas go and let them flow.
Here's the whole re-orged mind map.
To see the full run downs of all these line items, here's the source:
1. Rohit's original post that launched several more: he started with 5 rules that spread to 17. This post has links to the other additions.
2. Visionary Marketing's 15 Golden Rules for Web 2.0.
3.Jimmy Wales' list on CNN
5. David Chartier's rules - from Dec 2006! Look, longevity on the internet!
Photo by Karuvelil Thomas.