I never thought that it would be necessary to write a blanket post on cloth diaper group etiquette. After all, I’m certainly not a “Miss Manners” type and can throw down a little too easily. Plus I’m forever saying that every cloth diaper group has their own culture with things to remember. Dropping an eff-bomb, for example, may be considered appropriate on the Asylum, but it’s a great way to get a thread deleted (or possibly a membership revoked) from the Flash Mob.
Over the weekend, though, I’ve been noticing that there are some cloth diaper group rules of etiquette that should be universal. I thought that it would be considered common sense, but I’m frequently told that common sense is not so common anymore. So with that in mind…
Respect the Cloth Diaper Group Rules
It’s a no-brainer. If you’re in a cloth diaper group sponsored by a store (like the Kelly’s Closet Cloth Diaper Support Group), then don’t pass out links to their competitors. When they set up a cloth diaper group to help you, don’t insult them by taking away their business. While a Facebook group is absolutely free to set up, the time spent moderating it and maintaining it is not. Most of us who work for or operate a page or group for a company are doing so as part of our employment. We’re out to help you by sharing our expertise. Help out the company by not sending their buyers to other stores.
Likewise, if you’re in a group owned by a cloth diaper manufacturer (like Peace, Love, AppleCheeks), remember where you are. Slamming the company, recommending other products, or giving advice that will void the warranty on one’s diapers isn’t helpful at all. It can be hurtful, particularly if someone listened to you about an RLR and bleach soak and then found their diapers shredded. Not only are they now dealing with diapers that are not useable, now they have no product warranty to help them. Just don’t. Part of the benefits of getting new cloth instead of buying used diapers are the warranty protection that comes with it.
And, of course, if you’re in a group run by cloth diaper bloggers, then it’s probably not a good idea to share links to a group that dismisses bloggers as irrelevant or irreputable. Really. I feel comfortable speaking for all of us that it’s not cool when our hard work is dismissed as nothing.
Use Your Manners
It happens. We’re opinionated. Some of us are hormonal with pregnancy rage or that third Clomid cycle is making us insane. It’s really, really easy to just let your fingers fly when you’re ticked off. After all, it’s not like you’re actually looking at the person or hearing their words. It’s easy to condense them down to “electrons on a screen.” That makes it a lot easier for people to forget about filtering themselves and they’d say things that they may not say in private. (For what it’s worth, I’m much less filtered in real life than I am on the internet. I have a back button on my keyboard. Sadly, I do not have one for the things that come out of my mouth.)
That being said, there’s a lot that can get lost in a conversation in a Facebook group. If we were sitting down and actually having tea or whatever, we would have the benefit of non-verbal communication to help. We’d be able to hear each other speak. We’d see smiles, winks, and hand gestures. There would be clear, visual indications of demeanor. That’s missing when it’s strictly text. So if you think that someone is being a jerk, or rude, or condescending, or whatever else… maybe ask first.
Likewise, if you find yourself getting so upset in a cloth diaper group on Facebook that you feel the need to call someone a name, then maybe it’s time to walk away from your keyboard for a bit. Close the laptop. Put down your cell phone or tablet. Whatever. Just wait until you’ve cooled off. That’s the benefit of having a conversation online: it’ll still be there when you get back.
But if you’re so upset that you start throwing out name-calling, then you’ve already lost. Even if you delete it (or an admin deletes it for you), it’s still been put out there. It will still be remembered and is still more than likely in a screen shot for someone else. More often than not, though, calling someone a name says more about you than it does about them.
Don’t Recommend Other Cloth Diaper Groups
I really, really hate it when someone says “I’m starting solids soon. Should I get a sprayer?” and the response is “You should join Our Fluffy Farts Don’t Stink! They’ve got the best advice ever!”
First of all, it’s not answering the question. The question was a specific issue, not “what cloth diaper group should I join?”
Second of all, if you truly have the answer and another group helped you, that’s fabulous! But information should not be treated like a Holy Grail to be locked away until someone undergoes the mysterious transformation of joining your preferred cloth diaper group. It’s an answer to a question, not initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries. Share the knowledge. If the group is so amazing, it will grow on its own without spamming it across other cloth diaper groups.
Not to mention, it’s fairly insulting to the other group members and the group owners to do so because you are telling them that they are somehow insufficient. If they cannot answer questions or make a decent product, why are you there in the first place? Are you there to recruit?
Don’t be a jerk. Remember that it’s someone else’s space. It could be someone’s business or warranty that you are impacting. Either way, it’s not yours. Remember that while participation is valued and encouraged, acting in ways to help build that community (instead of destroy it) is far more appreciated.
Are there any cloth diaper group rules of etiquette that I’ve missed?