The Suck-Free Internet Manifesto

We, the people who spend most of our waking moments immersed in Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Google, smart phones, and email, despite overwhelming evidence that we’re so good at this stuff we’re over it already, are still trying to figure out how the Internet works.

We are explorative, experimental, creative, excited, and highly judgmental of how everyone else is doing it. We universally agree that spammers and trolls are lame, and we believe we know how everything should be done better, despite the fact that our rules and tools change every day.

Me being no exception to this trend, I hereby proclaim my manifesto of how everyone should use the internet without sucking.

——-

I believe that all web-based interactions operate on the same principles as in-person interactions.

I believe in social karma. I believe that all people deserve to be respected and treated with kindness, and that whenever you choose not to do this, you set yourself up to suffer consequences, whether directly or indirectly. I don’t care how much they pissed you off. You still have the choice to be nice. (“Smile from the wrists down.” –@Gwenners)

I believe in social capital. I believe that if you have something to sell or promote, your existing relationship to a community determines your ability to get what you want when you ask for favors or put things in front of people. I believe that if you want your community to support you, you need to first support your community.

I believe that your web presence is an extension of your offline presence, and that the sum of all your parts make up you as a complex human being. I believe it’s okay to represent different personas online as long as you can face the fact that they’re all parts of you.

I believe that too many people put ads on their blogs expecting to eventually earn good money from them, and are disappointed. I believe that using your blog to build community and attract or maintain clients, customers, support, and exposure is often a much more realistic and higher-yield endeavor.

I believe that the best opportunities never make it to Craigslist. They go to friends and to friends of friends.

I believe that in order to get followed, read, or subscribed to, you need to first be worth following, reading, or subscribing to. If you look at your web presence from an outsider’s perspective and aren’t excited about what you see, chances are you have more work to do.

I believe that people are here for themselves. They care about you to the extent that you have an impact on them. Even in their most generous moments, it always comes back to them somehow. I believe you should look for how, and feed that.

I believe that “opt in” only counts if they really want it and it continues to benefit them. If you stopped sending your regular newsletter/posts/updates/etc, would your network be disappointed? Or would they not notice? Or would they be relieved? I believe you already know the answer to this question.

I believe you can make money on the Internet with just as much social manipulation and sleaze as you can use in person. I believe you know the difference between benefiting the people around you and exploiting their weaknesses. I believe you understand that, in terms of long-term strategy and overall quality of life, the latter approach has severe drawbacks.

I believe you cannot escape the practical importance of personal ethics by doing business on the Internet, even if you attempt to be anonymous.

I believe that creating meaningless clutter, promoting low-quality products, or talking about things you don’t actually care about on the Internet is littering, and that it affects both your social karma and your social capital, even if you don’t tell your friends about it.

I believe that if you’re blaming the Internet for your problems, you’re not looking at your problems hard enough.

I believe that if you’re starting to hate the internet, it’s time to turn it off and go outside.

I believe that social media only works well when people genuinely care about what they’re talking about.

I believe that if you’re excited about something, you have a responsibility to both yourself and to your extended communities to explore that and express it (in a way that respects both you and them).

I believe excitement is the best indicator of what’s worth sharing.

I believe that if you’re not excited about anything right now, you should seriously consider fixing that.

I believe that showing off is usually okay because a lot of people get excited about watching. I believe that watching is usually okay because a lot of people get excited about showing off.

I believe we have more success to gain from being honest, open, and sincere online than we do from acting like the kind of person we think will be most successful.

I believe that when try to make others feel more comfortable by ignoring what motivates us, we deplete ourselves, and by extension, we damage our relationships.

I believe we benefit ourselves best and most sustainably if we are continually benefiting others.

I believe that sucking at the Internet is both voluntary and optional.

I believe the Internet is awesome, and that it is worth getting excited about.

I believe that we are awesome. And we are worth getting excited about.

———

I believe a lot of other things, too. But I’ll stop here. For now. Until I get excited again.

(What do you believe?)

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22 Responses to “The Suck-Free Internet Manifesto”

  1. Severe Says:

    FIRST!

    (sorry, I couldn’t help myself)

  2. Carrie Says:

    I believe that in order to make money online, you have to be part of a good team, and you have to work together and not just for yourself.

    I believe in order to make money for yourself, you have to teach other people how to make money for themselves first.

  3. Dusten Says:

    I believe all must be equal for everyone’s success.

    I believe finding this equality takes sharing of ones wisdom to all that are willing to accept it.

    I believe wisdom comes with the only hindering fact that one must be willing to be wise.

    I believe willingness is to be shared hand-in-hand with equality.

  4. markresch Says:

    i believe that you are onto some very important things.

  5. James Says:

    I believe that you’re one smart cookie ^_^

  6. Glossolalia Black Says:

    If I could sign your manifesto, I would. It is excellent.

  7. c.todd [phylum_sinter] Says:

    About a year ago i started wondering about this too, especially from the angle of social media bringing in so much noise (i.e. suckness) to the internet, what would keep the good things from inevitably being drowned out?

    The answer to that is clearer today — goofy case in point: I found this post via Google Reader’s “What’s Hot” RSS — but i still think this kind of manifesto is a great exercise and deserves to be done by everyone that spends alot of time online once and awhile.

    I believe this is good enough to tweet.

    I also believe that it could be condensed to about 200 words and become something awesome enough to pass around, desiderata-style.

    Cheers and keep it up!
    c. todd

  8. werwolf Says:

    i believe that i shall use this in one of my upcoming blog posts @thegap.at.

    but i also believe that you’re only looking at a part of what the internet is, the social part of it.

    i believe that there is a root layer – berners-lee described it as raw data – that has its own evolutionary laws.

    i also believe that sooner or later (perhaps sooner) we’ll be able to tap into and manipulate that layer directly.

    and finally i also believe that when that happens … well, all internet rules as we’ve known them so far, will go out the window (and maybe fly right back in again, but first they go out).

    and i like your ideas. a lot.

    ./ nuri a.k.a. werwolf

  9. Avery Says:

    unrelated to the internet, except for the fact that it is on facebook, this is my shtick

    I seek to understand.
    I believe there are answers.
    I struggle to have faith.
    I have faith that the answer is love.
    I understand that I will always struggle to have faith in the things which I believe.

    (I also believe that your list is great and better when read backwards.)

  10. Wayne Says:

    I love the idea of belief, but think it’s a little too ethereal. I know conviction and commitment are more tangible, and I seek facts and knowledge over belief systems. While I judge nobody for their belief system, I judge them on the implementation thereof. I know that you are wonderful, Sarah, and thank you for expressing the above so well.

  11. schmutzie Says:

    This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday –
    http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2009/09/five-star-fridays-edition-71.html

  12. sweetsalty kate Says:

    I believe the Internet can be kind. I believe what’s not can be ignored.

    This was so good.

  13. Neil Says:

    Whenever I see someone using the word manifesto in the title I usually start reading it with the knowledge that I am going to hate the post. Except this time. A lot of good stuff here. I am going to read it again.

  14. Sara Says:

    Here here!
    Great manifesto. Thanks for taking the time, and making the effort. I will repost and RT and spread the word. Une mille mercis!

  15. Adam Rakunas Says:

    I believe you have won the Internet.

  16. Lucy Says:

    Amazing and spot on, IMO. Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I work in higher education web and this is inspiring. I plan on sharing with lots of folks.

  17. Tamara Says:

    I believe that this is the most fantastic piece of business/marketing/feel-good/critical/philosophical/culture/tech/inspirational writing that I have read in quite some time, and I admire both your conviction and eloquence in expressing these big ideas.

  18. Juicer Fan Says:

    I believe you are right with most of what you write. Found you blog by chance and have to say i’m impressed. I have to admit, that i could see myself a bit in the mirror you are holding up ;) … but still i’m working on making my site better and more informative. I’m not that good at writing, but practising. I’m passionate about what i do, and i think that counts too, right? its not just about the selling, thats just a nice side effect. I love juicing! Thanks for sharing your manifesto. I liked it.

  19. Dopp Juice » Blog Archive » Need a Hand? Here’s How I Can Help Says:

    […] on and assisting with the practical application of these principles for being awesome on the […]

  20. Angel Bright Says:

    Hi,

    This was a great read. Good job. You are very thought provoking are you writing books?

  21. Kristen Ankiewicz Says:

    Hey!

    This expresses very nicely and eloquently many of the same beliefs I have about the internet.

    ALSO, it gives me a soothing reminder that my effort today in putting out yet another drawing (no matter how imperfect or unlikely to make money) is still A-OK, because it brings glee to someone somewhere, including myself.

    It’s nice to be reminded that time is not wasted if it helps community, karma, excitement, joy.

  22. Giro.org » Things I Babbled About On Twitter Today Says:

    […] Dopp's "Suck-Free Internet Manifesto" is your must-read for today: http://www.sarahdopp.com/blog/?p=857 #suckfreeinternetNOW […]