KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Etiquette and Social Media

Social-media platforms may be somewhat new communication tools—Facebook was opened up to use by the general public in 2006, Twitter was launched in 2006, and LinkedIn was launched in 2003—but the age-old rules of etiquette still apply when you use them. Sure, be yourself, but also be kind and be polite, because (1) if you put something on the Internet, it'll be out there forever for everyone to see, and (2) your online reputation is built on the totality of what you say online. That general advice aside, here are some specific etiquette rules that I find important to follow:

On Facebook
  • When you send a friend request to someone, personalize your request, unless you are a member of the person's immediate family or best friend, by adding a sentence or two to explain how you know them. With the wide networks we're all developing online now, sometimes people don't immediately recognize the name behind a friend request. You could find yourself locked out of connecting with an acquaintance or colleague simply because that person didn't recognize your name in your friend request.
  • Give credit where it's due. When you see something on someone else's wall and want to repost it yourself, note who made you aware of the item. Intellectual honesty is always appreciated, and it makes you look really good too.
  • Think before you comment on someone's wall post. If their post invites debate, then fine—debate all you like, as long as you're civil and don't take potshots at the original poster. If, however, the post expresses happiness because of some event, some thing, or some person, don't start debating the merits of what or who brings that person happiness. For that second type of wall post, comments should be appropriate to the post's tone and intent and should add something to it, not detract from it or dismay the original poster. After all, you "friended" the person because you admire them, not because you want to annoy, offend, or hurt them.

On Twitter
  • Include enough information so that it's clear what you're responding to when you send an @ message (a message addressed to one person but viewable by everyone else) or a direct message (a private message addressed to one person). Not everyone sees responses to their tweets immediately after they're sent, and most people interact with more than a few people on Twitter and thus may read lots of other tweets before seeing your response, so it's not helpful to send cryptic replies.
  • If you have multiple tweets to make in a day, spread them out. Don't overwhelm your followers by flooding their Twitter timeline with loads of tweets. You can use a feed reader with scheduling capabilities (such as TweetDeck) to space your clumps of tweets into individual tweets appearing at different times of day.
  • Don't tweet others' material without credit. When someone tweets something interesting that you'd like to share with your followers, put it out there via a retweet, so that you give credit to the original poster. Nobody likes people who pretend to be the first to spot something.

On LinkedIn
  • When you send someone an invitation to connect, include information about how you know them, even if you think they'll recognize your name. Some people have lots of colleagues and online friends and acquaintances, so if you use LinkedIn's unedited basic invitation, "I use LinkedIn to keep track of my professional network, and would like to add you," your would-be connection may not realize who you are and may ignore your request to connect. When I get an invitation that gives me no clues about how I know the person, I have to take the time to reply to the invitation to ask how that person and I know each other, which I find annoying.
  • When someone in one of your LinkedIn discussion groups provides terrific advice, thank them in a private message. A heartfelt thank-you goes a long way. The recipient will feel rewarded for their efforts and will be more likely to be helpful again, and they will think even better of you than they did before.
  • Be willing to trade favors. If one of your connections asks you to put them in contact with another of your connections, do so. Favors beget favors.

I'm not the first person to write on social-media etiquette; I wrote this post to emphasize some etiquette points that matter most to me. Here is some additional reading on the subject:

What are some of etiquette points that you wish people would follow on social-media platforms?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Editor's Choice: Dandelion Tea

If you've followed my blog or Twitter stream for even just a few months, you know that I adore tea—whole-leaf or whole-flower teas, not overprocessed and chopped tea leaves in tea bags. Usually I drink Japanese, Chinese, Nepalese, or Indian teas—white, green, black, oolong, and darjeeling—but one of my seasonal favorites is dandelion tea.

Dandelion tea has a light vegetal taste. To make it, I collect two handfuls of flowers, rinse them in cold water to make sure that they're free of miniature guests such as ants, then pour boiling water over them into my steeping pot and let everything steep for 2 minutes. (Some people like to steep the flowers for less time, maybe 1 to 1.5 minutes.) Then I decant the tea into a cup for drinking. My steeping pot produces a little more than two 6-ounce cups of tea. You can sweeten the tea with a little honey; I drink mine plain.

Some people prefer to use the dandelion leaves instead of the flowers for making tea. If you use the greens, then you'll have some tasty steamed greens to eat afterward; they taste sort of like chicory or escarole. You can also eat the greens raw as part of a mixed-greens salad. I do that all the time because one of my favorite dishes is a salad with as many different kinds of greens in it as I can find. If you do use the greens for tea and/or eating, pick young greens. The older and larger the leaves get, the more bitter their taste.

Other people use dandelion roots for brewing tea. Here are instructions for doing so.

Dandelions have plenty of vitamin A (more than in carrots!), vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron, and other nutrients. Dandelions are good for promoting liver health, as a digestive aid, as an antioxidant, for reducing high cholesterol levels (a reason I drink it), for reducing blood-glucose spikes (a reason I drink it), reducing blood pressure (a reason I drink it), reducing arthritis pain, and for other things. You'll want to be aware that dandelion tea is a diuretic; in other words, it'll make you pee.

Online and in health-food stores, you can buy dried dandelion flowers, leaves, and roots for tea, which is handy in fall and winter when dandelions aren't growing, but I like to use the free supply in my yard when it's available. I've never tried drying the overabundance of dandelions from my yard for use in fall or winter, but here are some instructions for doing so.

Do not eat or drink dandelions in any form if you pick them from a location where chemical grass treatments and weed killers might have been used, because the dandelions will absorb these toxins: know your source. I'm comfortable harvesting dandelions from my suburban lawn because I don't use any chemical fertilizers or herbicides on it. Also, be sure to tell your health-care provider that you drink dandelion tea and how often you do so, both because of its diuretic effects and because it may change how your body handles medications that you take.

What are your favorite medicinal herbal teas? Please tell us about them in the comments and provide links to stores that offer them.

Information resources consulted for this post:

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