Whose rules are you following?

At bitnorth ’09, I told a story about our adventure in pirate radio in the early 90’s….Despite being unlicensed, and by extension not bound by CRTC (Canada’s FCC) rules, we found ourselves emulating commercial radio. We didn’t swear (on purpose anyway), we played station IDs at the top of the hour, we did our best to abide by rules that didn’t apply to us.

Sure, we had fun, but we limited ourselves by abiding by these rules that weren’t ours. Part of that was born of our wish to not attract too much attention and seem just like any other station to someone who happened to be twirling the dial (twirling – that’s how radio listeners surfed, young’uns)..

Looking back though, I do somewhat regret we didn’t take more chances. After all, contrary to what we believed then, we had almost nothing to lose. No family member was going to stop getting food – the worst that could have happened is we would have paid a little fine and lose a CD player or two.. What a great story that would be 20 years later….

So here you are in 2010, and by reading this, I know you’re also online.. What rules are you following? A quick search of posts this week give you plenty of rules to choose from :

  • Food Rules
  • 10 Golden rules of social media
  • Rules for Twitter
  • 10 Rules of Good Design
  • Good Rules for Blogging
  • Rules for a great blog comment


I’m not picking on these authors, but holy crap it’s as if there are only two groups of people online:

  1. Those who make up rules.
  2. Those who follow them.

Can I point out that NO ONE in group 2 has much chance at success?

So where does that leave us?… You can try to lead group 2 by being in group 1. or,

You can be in group 3, and refuse to be defined around rules that don’t apply to you.

Whose rules are you following? and why?

BOOK CLUB RULES, originally uploaded by Bob Goyetche.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Rob says:

    The only rule I always follow is “The Platinum Rule” (so called because it’s even more valuable than the old “Golden Rule”*):

    Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

    If you do that, you’re not trying to force your own desires/beliefs/preferences on anyone else. Sounds like the right prescription for spreading happiness and we could all use more of that, right?

    *”The Golden Rule” is, of course, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Smacks of believing you’re the centre of the universe, no?

  2. Mark says:

    I think “rules” play two important roles in social media — or any activity, really.

    First, they arm newcomers with a foundation to become active and involved.

    Second, it helps set boundaries that innovators can push limits and explore new possibilities. Rules amplify the impact of breaking them. That’s why Podcasting lost its edge for a lot of non-audio-geeks since rules no longer apply there, really.

    While I was writng that I was thinking about baseball and how there are rules that make it possible to join and there are “innovators” that figured out how to cork the bat, scuff the ball and enhance their performance.

  3. Bob says:

    The problem I have is with who defines these “rules”. In Baseball, both parties mutually agree to these rules of engagement, and agree to proceed in playing the game in this manner. Those who cork the bat or scuff the ball are breaking the rules of engagement they agreed to use.

    In social media, there is no such pre-defined agreement (other than implicit social interaction rules, which vary greatly by person/culture/etc..) I think it does a disservice to newcomers to have these self-proclaimed rule makers have any traction at all. The rules aren’t mutually agreed to, and are thus an artificial construct.

    I would in fact argue that these rules are more about assuring the “leadership” position of the creator than helping newcomers join the party.

  4. Mark says:

    You make a very good point. However, under the circumstances I’d rather have any number of people offering up their own version of the rules and even have a public debate rather than have an established body create a set of “industry rules”.

    BTW, I know I’m guilty of promoting my own rules of audio and video production. I guess I offer them with a “if you want me in your audience, please do these” mindset.

  5. Bob says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want “industry rules”, I’m trying to point out that they don’t exist, and encourage newcomers to think past these artificial guides.

    Even for audio/video, I’m sure you’ve consumed some that didn’t fit your existing rules, or even better, expanded them… That’s what I’m getting to..

  6. John Meadows says:

    I have a saying posted on my notice board in my office as a constant reminder to myself. It reads:

    “If all you can do is follow the rules, you can be replaced by somebody cheaper.”

Comments are closed.