January has seen me writing my next book. I scheduled my blogs to update once a week each, left my websites alone for month, and I've been writing another homeschooling book. As I write this I'm at chapter 30 of what I hope will be a 40-45 chapter book. Hopefully it will be published by the end of February.
I had a bit of an online argument that I'd like to discuss here. Now, I'm part of a few forums and question and answer sites. If I'm thinking of something, I throw out a question and have fun reading the answers. Sometimes I'm writing an article and I ask a question about what I'm writing and sometimes the answers influence my article.
So, I wrote 5 chapters of my book one day and 5 chapters the next and while I was writing those chapters I put 5 questions on a forum in the space of one afternoon. As I did that I started to wonder if I should say anything about the fact that this was in fact research for my book. As I was wondering, a question came in and asked me what the sudden questions were for? I replied honestly that yes, I was writing a book, and yes this was research and I was wondering if I should say something. And then the floodgates opened...
People got really upset that something they said online could be used in a book for someone to make a profit. One person accused me of lying by saying I only admitted I was doing research when questioned, and how did they know I was just about to say something? But then the forum thread calmed down and a number of people answered my original question and said they didn't mind me using the information they gave.
When I analysed the thread later, it was really only three people who were objecting, but they were being very vocal and posting a lot, so it seemed like many people were attacking me. I was a little surprised by the venom in the attacks. After all, I could have used the forum for information without posting anything and no one would have known. Everything written on the Internet is available for anyone to read and use.
So, the lesson learned is that before I ask a first question, I now make known that the information received may be used in my book. Then if people don't want to give me free information, they at least have a choice.
The other lesson learned is how quickly someone can be nasty on the Internet for something small, especially when they are writing under a pseudonym.
A different happening, but I recently told my teenage son, "Someone online has said something that has upset me." To which he smiled and replied, "Welcome to the Internet, Mom!"
What's your opinion?