Social Media in an Anonymous World

The gCaptain Forum is a strange beast.  As a social media outlet specifically for the professional maritime and offshore sector, it’s unique from other social media outlets in that the majority of our users register with non identifiable user names.  Behind the shield of anonymity, discussions can on occasion degrade to heated arguments or side track 90 degrees from the original topic. The topics that are discussed are at times controversial, or work-related, and if it weren’t for the anonymity of our users, these discussions simply wouldn’t happen and the real issues that the industry deals with on a daily basis may never be heard.

For those who are considering entering this industry, the Forum is also a means to connect with those who can provide valuable insight into how best to negotiate the many hurdles.

Many of our Forum members spend hours of their day, literally, participating in discussions or observing the  banter going back and forth.  Who they are runs the gamut from offshore installation managers, deckhands, engineers, ship owners and all those in between.   Just like any other form of social media however, a useful discussion won’t unfold if it’s not tee’d up in the right way.

A perfect example of this was a new discussion from Forum member siquenai180, who posted the following:

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Discussing the Rules of the Road is a perfectly valid and relevant topic on the gCaptain Forum, and our members are more than happy to provide their interpretation of the rules, but their insight isn’t given for free.  They want to know that you’ve actually done some research into the question before throwing it out there on a Forum thread.

This is important because had this person cited applicable COLREGS rules and given their interpretation of them, our members would have deduced that the question was posted by someone who actually knows something about what they are asking and that secondly, whatever response they gave them would help contribute to their professional benefit as a mariner.

Wisdom is something that I believe all of us enjoy sharing, but nobody likes doing so when they feel that what they share may not be appreciated by the other person.

As expected, this conversation went downhill quickly and the Forum membership provided some very creative responses.

Want to participate in the Forum?  Here are some guidelines:

1) The gCaptain Forum strictly prohibits personal attacks.  We are more than happy to step in if this occurs, please report abuse to [email protected]

2) If you start a discussion, bring something to the table, don’t just ask people to discuss a topic.  Let the Forum know why your topic is important to you and let the discussion unfold from there.

3) Be thoughtful and you can reasonably expect a thoughtful response.

4) Remember that it’s a Forum, the conversation may run off the tracks unexpectedly.  It’s up to you to refocus  it.

5) Choose an anonymous login and join the conversation.  gCaptain doesn’t know who you are and we’re not going to ask or try and find out.

Here’s an example of a Rules of the Road discussion that was started correctly and resulted in a useful discussion.  Another recent, and useful thread, can be found HERE.