Should there be etiquette for online discussions?

I am a true believer in open communications and definitely not an advocate of censorship or imposing strict rules. People are free to post whatever they want, if I do not like it, I will delete, and if I find it offensive I will block the person or stop following him or her.

However, we need to have some basic rules still, or can we say etiquette?

What I am referring to is in response to things like the following:

People who have nothing to say

Someone who post an article or a question online (LinkedIn, Facebook, or other platforms) but never participate in the discussions. In my view, when people do this, they are probably sharing an article someone else wrote for them, and they have nothing to add. In their attempt to appear smart – the result is ____? I know, this could be harsh but it is an opinion and how I perceive these people (fair or not).

Collectors rather than contributors

People who post questions or polls but never share the results. These are people want to collect information but never really contribute properly. Sooner or later, people will stop responding to their posts but do they care?

The speed readers

One common practice in blogging is to have the title of the post as a question with explanation inside the article. However, when we share these articles online, we find a number of people responding to the question ( the title of the article) without reading the article. I had to change the title of my last post because of this. Did we reach a stage where people wants everything in 140 characters or less? Answering without reading maybe embarrassing because the title could have been satire.

 Status or knowledge sharing

LinkedIn had a publishing feature for people to publish articles and a feature for posting status. However, some people use the publishing feature for a status. You think there is an article that may interest; you click to go read more, but you notice it is empty – there is nothing. My friends, you can continue what you are doing or, if you do not want to lose credibility have something valuable to say.

Inappropriate behaviors

Others post things on LinkedIn that some view as inappropriate. OK, no problem – ignore it or unfollow the person. However, what they choose to do is to lecture the person posting. The problem with lecturing people are (1) who put you as a hall monitor? (2) By commenting they are actually making things worst because now the people who follow them also see the inappropriate post. Folks, it is OK just to ignore, delete, unfollow, or block rather than commenting and spreading.

The exaggerators

There are those who want to promote something but they over do it with exaggerations that cannot be true. In my view – when I see things like this it is a turn off – and maybe distance me from the product they are promoting. Examples:

  1. The person promoting the PMP and tell us that you will master project management and a PMP can manage ANY project.
  2. Another post someone promoting value engineering/management and suggest that it solves organizational problems and help increase market share.
  3. In a recent discussion someone sharing a post from PMI that is 4 years old and claiming that ISO 21500 is almost copy paste from the PMBOK Guide; or at least “90%” as he said.

The blind followers

This is quite common among “PMI’ers and Agile’rs”.

For example, (see item 3 previous point). When we say that ISO 21500 is using information from numerous references, including but not limited to the PMBOK Guide – the person take offense and accused us of attacking PMI, the PMBOK Guide or both.

Another example (refer to item 1 in previous point): when we say that the PMP pre-requisite does not even require a PMP candidate to have a PROJECT MANAGER experience so how can a PMP manage ANY project. The response? “You are wrong – go check the requirements”. We ask for a reference on where it says that the PMP candidate must be a project manager. The discussion is either ignored, dropped, censored, or deleted.


Now let us how many people will say Yes or No to the title of this post without reading it:)

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About Mounir Ajam

Mounir Ajam is eager to awaken the giant of project management within individuals, organizations, and nations! Mounir is a project management author, executive, consultant, and social entrepreneur. Mounir is open for further learning and knowledge sharing.He has global experience working on projects in the United States, Europe, South East Asia, West Asia, and Africa. He has been privileged to work on multiple small projects and mega projects.