Here are a few questions I’ve come up with to try to avoid sounding like YouTube commenter. I’m preaching to myself here, because I find I have violated these far more often than I’d like. Concerning something I’m about to post online, I try to ask the following:
Is it respectful?
There are people behind companies, products, and ideas. Am I showing them respect? I should overshoot the level I think they are due. I’m not usually in a position to judge how much respect someone deserves.
Is it relevant?
This is not the same as asking ‘will this get page views?’ It’s more a question of whether this is worth talking about. Is there value in having this discussion? Could someone be better off for having read these words? Will this post still have merit, at least historically, down the road?
Is it reasonable?
Are these ideas well-conceived, arrived at through a reasoned train of thought? Have I drawn rational conclusions? Could I argue my way to this position from square one?
Is it responsible?
Am I willing to be held accountable for the results of this post? If it might hurt someone, is it still something that’s important to say? Am I contributing a net-positive?
We’re all spending a lot more time online. Communicating is foundational to who we are as people. It only seems fair to evaluate from time to time what value we are contributing to one another. I certainly can’t promise to run through this list before everything I post, but these are some guiding points I use if I’m questioning what I’m writing.