Activerain has a membership of over 60,000 real estate professionals. All of them have the opportunity to join and participate in any group they choose. Though the number of non-stagers in this network greatly outweighs the number of actual stagers here, SIF holds one of the largest membership listings of all. Why, do you ask? Well, originally I had hoped that this spoke to the general interest in the benefits of staging. However, I quickly realized that no one has to be a member of this group to read the often stellar posts about staging itself, but they do have to be a member to read those that would be better not aired to the public.
As professional stagers, we are a group of highly creative and passionate people who sometimes react strongly to the words we read here in the rain. Often our words can lead to an immediate smackdownfrom the other members of the group. Tell us we can't do something - expect to get a verbal slap. Advise someone to only hire those of us who carry a certain designation, you don't even have to wait for the reaction - just know it is gonna hurt. Say something unfair to or about a well respected and undeserving member of our group and you will experience what may be the ultimate smackdown - a not so nice blog written about you. This is why so many members of the rain join and follow us - we are a train-wreck waiting to happen (and I say that in the most respectful and loving way).
Many times in responding to these disagreeable words, we forget that we are reasonable adults who do not have to type out whatever knee jerk reaction we experience. It is easy to only see things from our point of view and not allow for the fact that the person we are reacting to may have limited experience in our forum and hasn't learned the ropes yet. Or that they speak from a different point of view with no intention to offend. Often times they are just simply misunderstood due to lack of communication skills. As adults, we should be able to sit back, consider what was written in more than our own light, consider the humanity and personal feelings of the other person, and respond out of kindness and love - that is what adulthood is. Yes, sometimes people do need to be corrected or otherwise instructed, but we can do it without being nasty and calling names. We should also think long and hard before making rash accusations. As we sit at our computer screens many miles away from each other, we can never know for certain the intentions of others. It is best to air on the side of caution and not make a spectacle of ourselves. That is not to say that should you be unduly attacked on your own blog that you should not be able to defend yourself. If that is the case, be as snarky as you want to be - just know that people are watching how you handle it.
Recently, one person here decided to attack a member of SIF with unfounded and ridiculous accusations. Unfortunately they decided to do it anonymously. Now what this person did not know is that even if you do not sign your name, it is possible for the IT guys here on AR (All Hail Bob!!) to find out who you are. Every comment leaves a trackable IP address that leads right to you. Such was the case when those scathing comments were made. That person either has or will be notified that they are in violation of the AR Community Guidelinesand are walking a thin line. Should you want to prevent these comments being made on your blog you can go into your settings and uncheck the box that allows them.
Now, I am not saying that every time you get a less than flattering anonymous comment that you should contact the AR heads and have it traced. This is a public site and often these comments are made by non-members. In this specific case, it was quite obvious that the offender (who WILL NOT be named) was an active member of our community and chose to make these comments anonymously in what seemed like an effort to damage the reputation of their competition. This was a special circumstance and that is why these measures were taken.
Should a situation be such that you feel the need to negatively respond to someone, that's okay. As a matter of fact - to quote an AR Head - "Civil discourse is encouraged" here in the rain. A debate, even if heated, can be a good and productive thing if handled in a respectful manner. And you should be able to sign your name to your opinion without hesitation. If you are going to say it, stand by it. Even the most vile of responses can be taken with a measure of respect if the person making it can own up to it. You may even consider not commenting at all.
Will this blog put an end to the controversy that unfolds so often here in SIF? I hope not. It not only keeps our readership numbers up, it also helps us work out the massive amount of kinks our industry still has to deal with. We need to work these things out together and where is a better place to do it? We may just be achieving the transparency that the RE industry talks so much about. We should use AR to our industry's advantage and to promote our own individual businesses, but should not use it to swing our own personal wrecking ball.
So in closing, I say be nice, be respectful, and remember that you are an adult with full control of your words and what you say and do here is a reflection of your professionalism even if you think no one knows who you are.