ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
[personal profile] ckd
Let's say I work for a company that does much of its work by email, and therefore has a number of mailing lists. In addition to work-related lists (team lists, project-related lists, etc), it has some general social lists.

One of those is cat-pictures@example.com, because someone really liked [livejournal.com profile] naomikritzer's story. It's a fairly active list, and has become the center of the company's internal social network: everyone from new employees to the CEO reads it.

I post a cat picture. A perfectly reasonable cat picture just like all the rest; there's no harm being done to the cat, not even embarrassment.

Someone objects to my post. Maybe they don't like pictures of cats in front of windows because the latter reminds them of when their cat fell out of a window. Maybe they just hate my username because they lost a parent to chronic kidney disease. Maybe they roll a d20 every time they see a post, and if they roll a 1 they complain.

HR sends me an email saying "hey, can you stop posting to cat-pictures@? we got a complaint about your last post."

I find this completely unacceptable; all I did was post an innocent cat picture.

Some options:
  1. Agree to stop posting even though I don't like the precedent, because I decide that cat-pictures@ isn't as important to me as keeping my job.
  2. Stop posting temporarily while I appeal the decision. (Maybe I feel that promo committee members are all heavy readers of cat-pictures@ and disappearing from their view will hurt my career.)
  3. Quit, because this company is obviously run by people who don't believe in cat pictures.
  4. Keep posting.
If I choose #4, and HR says "we said don't do that and you kept doing that; you can choose to leave or be fired" and I say "I'm not quitting, you'll have to fire me"...then I get fired. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

So, the question at hand: if I chose #4, have I chosen to escalate the situation instead of addressing it in a professional manner? I think so; even if the situation was caused by a badly-thought-out and unprofessional process (or a biased d20), and even if I fully intend to use all my personal social network accounts to say "Company X is terrible and has absolutely idiotic rules about their internal social email lists" it is inappropriate to continue posting to a specific forum when the forum's owners have asked you not to.

"But why didn't they block your posts from cat-pictures@ themselves?" A good question, and one that I'd say indicates a failure on their part in that they failed to allow for the possibility that I would respond unprofessionally by continuing to post there. Still, just because they didn't lock the car doesn't mean I should have driven away in it.

It is possible for both (or all) sides of a debate to be wrong at the same time.

(And yes, comments are closed. My forum.)

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blue shark of friendliness

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