Umpiring and Social Networking
I know a few things about social networking, after all in the grand scheme of things Umpire-Empire is a social networking site and in just over 2 years has grown to be one of the largest and most visited umpiring sites on the internet.
This is a serious topic. In today's information driven society it is all too easy to inadvertently step on a landmine, one which can detonate weeks, months or even years later. Remember once something is posted on the internet it is there forever, even if it gets "deleted." So be mindful of what you post not only here but on your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter accounts or your own personal blog. Players, coaches, fans, and parents can find you, what you've said and more. So I've come up with this guide to help you avoid trouble.
- First, and foremost don't say or write anything you don't want to be attributed to you. Even using pseudonyms or usernames don't think you have complete anonymity. It could be easy to either figure out who you really are or narrow things down enough to figure it out.
- Choose an indistinguishable username. If you use your real name as your username you will be giving up your anonymity.
- Keep in mind your forum signature. You may have an anonymous username, but your signature gives your real full name and maybe some more identifying information. Keep this in mind when you write your signature. I'm not saying don't do it, but be aware.
- Don't go into too many specifics. If you want to tell about a game or situation you had don't give too many details which can follow you. Bad example of a post. "I ejected the Kennedy High School coach John Doe yesterday. He was being a complete ass arguing the hands are part of the bat." How easy is that going to be to find ad deduce who you are? A better post would be, "I ejected the offensive coach yesterday. He was being a complete ass arguing the hands are part of the bat." You point still got across, and there isn't anything specific enough to trace back to the actual situation.
- Be careful who you friend/follow/etc on the social networking sites. Here's a perfect example: On Facebook there is a section that suggests friends to you in the top right when you are on your page. I will sometimes get a suggestion of a local varsity coach. Apparently, we have a few friends in common, but haven't crossed paths socially before. I would be a fool to add him as a friend, and that also goes to show how I need to be careful what I put as one of our mutual friends may inadvertently say something I put or even share one of my posts. It can even hurt if it is not about him but another coach or team.
- Keep your social networking pages private. All major social networking sites offer the ability to keep your posts/profile private from those who are not friends. Make sure you have some level of privacy enabled. I don't want to sound paranoid, but you should be selective of who can view your information whether you are an umpire or not.
- If you are contacted by someone about something that occurred on the field, respectfully decline to respond. Especially if it's somebody you are not familiar with.
- Don't use or give your partner's name either. We're all in this together, brothers in blue, by simply using your partner's name you may be inadvertently throwing him under the information super-highway. Be vague his name isn't important in the grand scheme of things.
Here's a little test, open Google or your search engine of choice and enter: "Your first and last name" AND umpire. See what comes up. Searching my name I get 58 results from Google, 12 with WebCrawler, 9 each with Alta Vista and Yahoo and 8 each on Bing and Ask. Now because I'm more active online I probably have more hits than many/most other people. But it only takes one hit heading to the wrong place.
One of the things I do on a regular basis is check what keywords people are using to find Umpire-Empire to help improve the site. You absolutely would not believe the number of hits I find of our members real names which bring people to Umpire-Empire, and I don't even know the vast majority of the members real names. Granted a recent article cited 57% of people have Googled their own name and this may account for a portion of this, but others may be Googling your name too.
A disgruntled coach, player or fan can do this too and cyber-stalk you or even claim you have a bias because of something you have written. Even worse your assigner getting wind of something you've written and denying you a choice assignment.
What you write can come back to bite you professionally as well. While hopefully this would not apply to anything you write about umpiring it is becoming more and more common for potential employers to look at your online profile. There have been numerous articles written about employers not hiring a certain person based on information they found about them on social networking sites.
By no means am I saying don't share your passion for umpiring here or elsewhere, just be vigilant of what you write and as your writing something give a second thought about how anonymous you really are.