5. Picking a Fight

It is stated plainly in the IBM Social Computing Guidelines (Appendix A), “Don’t pick fights.”

So why a whole chapter on something that the Guidelines—which I helped write—explicitly say not to do?

The Guidelines themselves provide the answer: Sometimes, it is necessary to address misrepresentations factually. Sometimes, the market needs assurance that even dissenting voices are heard. Sometimes, it is even appropriate to engage directly in debate.

This chapter is about the delicate balance a social business faces between dialogue and diatribe. “Picking a Fight” delves deeper into the wildcards of social networking—“flame wars,” trolls, and baiting. (I define these terms along the way.) Conversely, the chapter also examines ...

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