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Online Communication Manual

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Introduction

Please note any “TODO” or “TK” - that means text around it is incomplete or inaccurate, such as missing a citation.

This document is an explanation of how I try to approach my online communication. The methods explained below have been in implicit development my whole life, but I started explicitly considering how I wanted to conduct my online communication in mid-2018. How I communicate online can be divided up roughly into two categories, though there’s always some murkiness between the two.

There’s direct communication, for talking with individuals, privately, and public communication, for talking with groups.

The reason I don’t explicitly allow for in-between communication like “followers-only microblog posts,” is because the control of security on that communication is so low, I would prefer to treat it as public.

License and Editorial Information

This document and the source code it contains are released under the MIT License and maintained at https://git.sr.ht/~emsenn/online-communication-manual, where a list of syndications is available.

Table of Contents

Direct Communication

This section is pretty short, because most of my direct online communication happens through an ever-changing medley of instant messaging platforms defined more by contemporary trends than my opinion.

That is to say, I use whatever messaging applications my friends are using, and try not to be picky about the procedure.

If I have my preference though, I use email.

Public Communication

I divide my public communications into two subcategories:

Posting

When I want to post something online, I want to send a quick message, usually to an audience of followers, but also usually in a way that anyone could see it. (After all, I can’t be sure that by sharing with my followers, I am not unknowingly be syndicated publicly.) Followers are people who have subscribed to the relevant account or stream.

There are a few things that inspire me to post:

Mailing Lists

I currently maintain two mailing lists: a public inbox and a parlour. Mechanically, anyone can send an email to the public inbox, but only I can write replies. In the parlour, only I can post messages, but anyone can reply.

Microblogging

The main way I post things is by microblogging: short temporary posts that are syndicated to followers’ individual chronological feeds. Specifically, I use an account in the Fediverse to create posts: @emsenn@tenforward.social. You can also view an RSS feed of those posts.

These are a few assumptions I make when microblogging:

I do not think my microblog should be permanent, since I can’t reasonably moderate the posts that will show up in response to mine. In that spirit, I have taken the rather drastic step of deleting my posts that are older than 48 hours, unless I have “favorited” it myself. To accomplish this, I use @codl’s Forget tool.

Into Data Silos

I recognize that a lot of potential and current personal and professional contacts don’t have accounts in the Fediverse, don’t use RSS, and won’t manually check my Mastodon profile.

I maintain accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn, though I have severe ethical criticisms of both. Take it as evidence that my desire to be cooperative outweighs my desire to boycott monopolistic providers.

I don’t post into these data silos as often as I post in the Fediverse, and tend to limit my posts there to what would be of interest to a professional audience.

Publishing

Publishing something online is the most complicated way of communicating online, but also, I think, the most useful. Publishing here means sharing in a way that it becomes a “permanent” part of the Internet.

I explain the specifics of how I write in my Manual of Writing, the specifics of how I edit in my Manual of Editing, and the specifics of how I create a document in my Manual of Publishing. (All of which are in early development too.)

This procedure is about how I share that published document.

The first thing I do is add it to my website, emsenn.net, which is a repository of all my published documents (and drafts).

Then, I write a post about it to the Fediverse, as described in my procedures for posting online.

Finally, I send the document to the relevant list of email contacts I maintain who have expressed interest in its topic.

Receiving