I've seen many internet "explosions" where large numbers of denizens have set about cutting down someone for a controversial action. In New Zealand we call this tall poppy syndrome. I'm certainly guilty of lashing out at times, too, when an action is particularly egregious in my eyes or affects me more directly, but as much as I can I seek to remain objective. In the last year or two, however, I've taken a slightly different approach.
The first thing I'll do is decide whether it's worth weighing in at all. Increasingly this means I will only do so in communities or with people where I know I will be respected. I've written more unsent missives than I can count, usually destroyed upon asking myself "will this make a positive difference?" If I do weigh in, I will try very hard to be objective and to address what I feel are the relevant points – at the same time conceding anything I do agree with. It's quite difficult (especially in a place like Twitter) to craft one's language to get across a conciliatory tone while still calling out a "wrong."
The new thing I've been doing lately is to counter negativity with thanks. I had no quarrel when Marco Arment recently changed the business model for his app Overcast, but the collective denizens unleashed a torrent of fury. I waited for the worst of the hubbub to die down and then sent Marco a short message on Twitter.
Marco doesn't reply to much (he must get tweeted at thousands of times a day, so fair enough!) but he did reply to this, so I'm hopeful I made his day just a little bit better.
I've sent "you are awesome" emails and tweets to a number of podcasters, too, when they've opened up about masses of negative feedback on stuff they've said. Most have had a reply. It's not that I'm looking for replies, just that I think a reply denotes I had a positive effect which is the intent. Because, as we all know, the negative always gets aired, and the positive not so much.
There's no need, however, to wait for a storm of hate before you send positive vibes to someone. Podcasters often ask for iTunes reviews – why not go write some for your favourites and include thanks? If they have an online community, such as on Facebook or Google+, go put a word of thanks there. These people spend significant amounts of their own time producing something you enjoy – thank them for that.
The reason I'm writing this right now is because I have just put all but the final touches onto a bunch of content for the NosillaCast Podcast for the coming week. It is the podcast that automatically goes to the top of my playlist when it arrives and I've not missed one in (what must be) close to 300 episodes. It's a lot of work! I've done this a handful of times now, and every time I am well thanked by Allison and Steve. So I got to thinking – have I said thank you lately? I'm off to post a link to this in Google+ now.
Have you said thank you to your favourite developer, podcaster or other creative lately?
Banner image by dinajose7 on Flickr.