I truly hope that generations continue to the enjoy the sandbox before it goes the way of the seesaw and merry-go-round of my youth. Because really, the group sandbox was the ultimate in play-based relationships before activities like Tiny Tutus and Pee-Wee Soccer steamrolled our unstructured play. It's the Wild West of the playground experience, and as such a fantastic metaphor for behavior on the Internet and perhaps some useful reminders.
Don't throw dirt.
Sand is just tidy, parent-sanctioned dirt. As such, it seems harmless to fling it around and watch it fly. But someone always ends up crying, and the sand-thrower always gets nailed. Similarly, in the blogosphere be cautious about where words get thrown. Being quick to react puts you in the middle of the story, but not always with all the information. Don't be so anxious to be part of it or so intense in your response that you toss words around that can hurt someone, and get you called out at the same time for being a bully.
With the right attitude and a smile a new best friend or a chance to play with the multi-layed sand sifter is in your reach. Blogging is a solitary activity in the writing, but a group activity in the reading, connecting, and sharing information. Play your part in that aspect by commenting on other blogs. Who knows when you'll find a new best friend or a future presenting partner.
Don't take things that don't belong to you.
Whether you hope no one notices or that no one will say anything, when - and it's always when - they do, it's not pleasant for anyone. The taker feels bad, the take-ee is upset, and what could have been a fine time together is ruined because you didn't opt for the next choice.
Share and ask nicely.
The easier way to use someone else's toy is to share yourself and ask nicely. In blogging this would translate into transparency in sharing credit with appropriate links back to the original and asking to use content. When do you need to ask? Full or nearly full content is a definite, and that means photos, poems, and reviews. (More on this during the week.)
Don't hog all the good stuff.
Sometimes there are lots of things available for everyone, and that doesn't mean more for you. Where I see this most in book blogging is grabbing ARC's and taking extras at conferences. It seems acceptable in theory to want one copy for you and one to give away to readers, but it's bad form because it's unsustainable for everyone to do that. Be selective, not greedy.
Play with others.
The best thing about the group sandbox is the chance to create more than you can alone. Castles, roads, and towns form as everyone works together. Online communities offer the same opportunities to be part of something bigger by participating in tours, various round-ups, carnivals, challenges, and charity events. Even perhaps a combination challenge and fundraiser. And bonus, when you find yourself more connected to everyone it's easier and more intuitive to play nice.
For more advice and/or reminders, head to helping info on authors and bloggers at Chasing Ray and check back with the Unconventional Blog Tour through the week. If you have other suggestions for playing nicely, I'd love to hear them!
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