The Internet is still in its infancy. It remains a frontier town where the laws are difficult to enforce and the beleaguered Sheriff and his deputies bounce from bar-room brawl to bar-room brawl, trying to impose order as best they can.
In order to be a good citizen in this kind of town, you have to understand the game. Help your neighbour out in his hour of need and he may well return the favour when you need something from him. It’s all about bartering. By putting a little something back, you will make life a little easier for everyone.
When you use eBay, whether as a buyer or seller, you should leave feedback for the other person. If everyone does this, it becomes easy to gauge how reliable and trustworthy people are before you agree to do business with them. You are not compelled to leave feedback, but if you don’t the system starts to break down. You should “play the game” and give a little back.
Similarly, the work-focused social networking site LinkedIn states that you should only befriend people who you know. Some people are so-called “open networkers”, who advertise the fact that they will link in with anyone who contacts them. As a result, the nature and structure of the network is changed – a link between two people is no guarantee that they actually know each other. Again, by bending the unenforceable rules laid down by the site, people are weakening the trust that people can have in its information.
There are sure to be other examples of this in the websites you use on a daily basis. So, think carefully before you break the netiquette rules imposed by these sites, even if they have no way to stop you from so doing. You might just be watering down the experience for other people.