When to Talk

Hello everyone! Time for a ramble. Feel free to ignore it.

It has been a couple of weeks, and what a couple of weeks for so many people – in terms of the ups and downs happening in a number of fields. There have been a number of things going on that people want to comment on, and that many have rather heated emotions connected to. Some of these things are things that should be shouted about, such that the world hears and some wrong is righted. Others are things that you are best off leaving well alone. I have recently had my silence on some and my statements on others questioned, so I write this as a kind of explanation of my reasons.

What some people forget is that their Internet presence is incredibly visible. It is a primary creator of their reputation in the 21st century, and if they are attempting to secure some fantastic new opportunity, that reputation may have an impact on their success.

On the one hand you have the recent exposure of the attempts of Games Workshop to bully an independent author over her use of the term Space Marine in the title of her book. The attempt by a large gaming corporation to lay claim to one of the oldest standard tropes of a genre, one that predates the company’s existence by some fifty plus years and is a regular item across decades of the genre, is the ultimate of hubris that must be shouted about. This company, I need to add, held no trademark, patent or copyright on the term at all for the purposes of literature in the US where they were trying to make the claim. Their spurious claim to the term in some trademarks registered in Europe must be challenged.

Awareness of these tactics is important, thus this is something to talk about. Talking about it shows you are interested in what is right, and in matters surrounding suitable protections for IP holders and the rights of creators. Whether you agree with GW or despise their actions. Even saying all that, if you choose to speak, do so even handedly, and focus on the facts. Try not to allow your comments to be tainted by excessive emotion. Opinion is fine, but opinion is not simply emotion.

On the other hand, in other circles, there are some people posting complaints. Some are quite strident. These are regarding predicted, informed, and expected delays in the processes of their various submissions. These things always take time. It is the applicants role to wait, and it must be done. When a business is considering working with you, how you behave is an important consideration. Complaining or abusing those you have applied to is not going to help you secure a contract, whatever your goal. If done on the Internet, those complaints will hang around, visible to future businesses you seek to work with.

A further consideration is that if you continuously discuss the results, or process of your application to a business in a location that they might watch, you cast doubt on your ability to maintain your silence during negotiations. This might not seem important at first, but if you consider that there may be at some point the need to sign a non-disclosure agreement, your ability to keep quiet is something that would stand in your favour for the business considering taking you on. It certainly might be an important consideration if you were seen to be unusually vocal about your progress with them.

I guess my point in writing this blog entry, is to say I feel we should choose our fights wisely and speak only when necessary. Your reputation is a valuable resource whatever your business. Protect it by thinking twice, three times, or four before stating your opinions on line. Will it say something good about you to speak up? Or will it show you in a negative light?

The Internet is not anonymous. Treat it like you are speaking to your bosses face. Or your spouses. Whichever. Saying the wrong thing in both cases has consequences. Be prepared to accept them online just as you would otherwise.