There are loads of groups in Facebook and some of them are a great socialising and hobby chat place for knitters and crocheters. I’m admining one of such knitting and crochet hobby groups, Knitting and Crochet Ireland, and the amount of fun and support there for new and experienced crafters alike is truly inspiring.
As everything in life, virtual groups also come with set of rules and behaviour expectations. Their virtual nature does not excuse anyone from basic politeness, social behaviour norms and expectation of good judgment in interactions with others than a real life meet up in a brick and mortar local yarn store or in a community hall. Perhaps even more so, because virtual communication on Internet is limited to written word, without the benefit of body language, tone and facial expressions. Here are some does and don’ts in Facebook groups which may help with getting full benefit of one of socialising tools with crafters from around the world and avoiding some of the pitfalls and disappointments.
1. To find the group type your subject of interest in the Search box in Facebook. If a group, or number of groups, already exist, you will get a list of options in the drop down list. Most of the craft groups are “closed”, meaning that you can see certain aspects of the group, like the description of what the group is about and number of participants. Read the group description before applying to join as it may give you some idea of the nature of the group. Some groups may not be a good match for what we are looking for and joining and attempting to participate may be disappointing and frustrating. For instance a group I admin does not allow sales and advertising at all, so if someone is looking for a group where they can discuss and promote their small business selling crochet accessories, a hobby group is not going to be a good match for them. This is how the “About” section looks in one of largest knitting groups I’m a member of.
2. After joining the group don’t post immediately. The first and most important thing you need to do is read the rules document. Many people think that Facebook groups are places set up by Facebook itself and are just topical spaces to post whatever you wish. This is not the case at all – Facebook groups are actually much more like virtual meetings, some large, some small, but they all have one thing in common: they are organised by someone. They have a topic, a purpose and rather than feeling entitled to broadcast whatever you wish in fact you are more like a person allowed to join someone’s party. The organisers set up the parameters, i.e. the group rules and expect the group members, the invitees, to follow them. If you breach the rules, you may find yourself very quickly uninvited from the party. The group rules set out what is and isn’t ok in the particular group – read it, understand it, stick to it.
Most groups pin their rules document on top of the page. On mobile devices you may have to find a “View Pinned Post” tab to access the pinned post.
Regardless whether the rules document is pinned on top or not, you can always find them in the documents section of the group. In desktop version of Facebook you can find the link to “Files” on top of the page. Clicking on it will take you to the list of documents uploaded by group members, including the rules document.
On a mobile device you need to tap the cover photo of the group to access the same Members-Events-Photos-Files menu.
3. Don’t spam. Spamming means sending a message indiscriminately to a large number of Internet users. Don’t post a copy-paste of the same post across multiple groups, no matter how cute your puppy looks in his new sweater or how proud you are of your new baby and their new hat, especially since you made them both. Many crafters are members of more than one group, exactly like you, and will receive the same post in multiple copies. While it may feel harmless , pushing multiple copies of the same post to people via different groups is a particularly common form of spam in craft groups. In the best case scenario you will get blocked by some people, in the worst, if the posts get reported to the admins, you can get permanently banned from the groups you have spammed.
Another form of spam common in Facebook craft groups is sharing or copy-pasting posts from big knitting websites and popular blogs. Unless specifically permitted or encouraged in the group, the likelihood is that many craft group members are familiar with and follow the same big websites as you and have already seen the entry, possibly in many copies. If such an entry is of interest and a subject you would like to discuss in a particular group, by all means do link it in, but write your own comment.
4. Don’t advertise unless the group specifically allows advertising. Advertising includes promotion of own business, re-sharing advertisements or electronic posters from other shops and websites, posting links to your own blog or internet group or looking for sponsorship for a charitable cause you are leading or raising awareness of. Some groups allow limited forms of advertising and if this is the case, the conditions will be specified in the rules document or in a separate document. If after reading the rules document you are still unsure whether or what type of advertising is allowed, contact the group admin team before placing an ad on the site. Remember, groups are set up and moderated by individuals, some are fully non-profit, some are linked to businesses owned by the founders and you joining to promote your agenda may be an equivalent of crashing a party to do a presentation of a well known cleaning brand. You may find yourself removed from the group and banned from any associated group as well, damaging your brand or social media interests in the long run.
5. Post pictures and description of your work but do not overload the group with too many posts or pictures at the same time. The rule of thumb is to keep your pictures to 1-2 per post and if you need to upload more, it’s better to compile a collage before uploading. Some groups allow multiple photos, some even have a cap of how many photos you can post at the same time or in a short period and admins will delete them if there are too many. Facebook is not Pinterest and other types of visual media and it is not that easy for group members to limit or control what appears in their feed from within the group. You may end up blocked by increasing number of group members if you monopolise the forum too much. Facebook groups are mainly discussion forums and if the group is purely visual – like photography groups – they will specify this in their rules.
6. Share your current or recent work, not the body of work from the last 10 years. Facebook groups are discussion forums, not auditions for the title of the busiest crafter in the world. You are much more likely to start positive and supportive chat about your work when you choose pieces others can relate to and if you don’t try to monopolise the stage.
7. Do not share patterns. As simple as. Pattern sharing means copying a pattern – scanning, copy-pasting, converting to pdf, photocopying or photographing – and distributing it via the group or directly to group members. It is also one of the most serious breaches of crafter netiquette, often perceived as inexcusably ill informed and rude in groups with a clear “no pattern sharing” rule. Even if you downloaded a pdf of a free pattern, you are not entitled to distribute it further. Free or paid status of a pattern is not related to its copyright status. PMing (Private Messaging) or e-mailing your pattern copy is also pattern sharing, as is uploading or sharing pattern images to the group. No ethically and legally operating Facebook craft groups allow pattern sharing and most will remove the person sharing patterns immediately and permanently. Of course there are groups which allow sharing copies of patterns, however these groups run a risk of being shut down, with administrators’ accounts under threatof suspension or removal. Infringement of copyright and intellectual property is illegal, against Facebook rules and is essentially intellectual property theft from another crafter. Here is an old but still good article from Vogue Knitting on what’s so wrong with pattern sharing, by Lance D. Reich.
What in general is allowed and welcome, is crediting the pattern author when appropriate, the publication, physical or virtual, where and when pattern was purchased and a link if the pattern is available on the Internet. Remember though not to spam the group with re-posting pattern links from popular sites – the likelihood is that the group members have seen these elsewhere already, most likely at source.
8. Do not air your issues with the group directly on the page. If you have a problem with the group, contact one or more of the administrators. Rant and grievances posts and escalations directly onto a large forum are very bad form, don’t add anything positive to whatever issue or concern you have and are rarely tolerated. If you have an actual issue and want to resolve it, discuss it directly with the team who are behind the group. If you don’t want the issue resolution, just to vent your negative emotions, go for a walk or hit a pillow.
9. If the group does not fulfill your expectations – don’t try to hijack it, it’s not yours to do so. The founders and admins most likely run it to their ideas and vision of a craft group. If the group or groups you are in leave you dissatisfied, go and set up your own group instead, one which you can set up to your needs and expectations. Conversely, if you like the group very much and see how ou could use it for your own purpose, don’t hijack it either. If you have an idea of a charity action, a knit along, crochet along, free pattern promotion – well, do not just hijack the group. It is extremely bad form to go to a party, bring your own band and mike and try to run your own entertainment program. Contact the admins and ask for permission, they may be thrilled to let you go ahead with it, they may not be too happy, but whichever way it is, you aren’t entitled to walk in and try to take over. If you feel like running a group, either earn the place of an admin or, again, leave and organise your own party.
10. Post on topic. It’s surprising how many posters don’t get it. Facebook groups are like hobby conventions. They have a purpose and usually it is limited to a specific topic or range of topics which bring people of similar interests together. In case of craft groups this range of topics tends to be clearly defined, as is the tolerance of “off topic” discussions. Most craft groups are moderated and admins will delete posts unrelated to the topic of the group. Discuss your current crochet challenges in your Crochet group but leave the problem with casting on your new pair of knitted socks to your Addicted to Sock Knitting group.
11. Do not troll or flame the group. Trolling and flaming aren’t a good idea in any Facebook group, not only craft related ones. Trolls and flame warriors are banned from groups by admins and reported to Facebook by the group members. If you are having a bad day and are itching for a fight, put down a keyboard, tablet or the phone, go for a walk or hit a pillow instead, don’t post or comment in the group.
12. Do not “rage quit”. We’ve all seen at least one of these. If you decide that a group does not meet your expectations or you have no interest in the discussions happening there, don’t write big critiques, outlining its faults and your reasons for leaving. In social media slipping away without saying good bye is the elegant thing to do and departure drama is seen as unnecessary and impolite, if not plain rude.
13 Do not expect hand holding from the administrators. It is your responsibility to read, understand and follow the rules of engagement of the group. If you breach the rules, it is a very small group and you are very lucky you may get a Private Message note from the admin. Don’t count on it though, this is an extra courtesy, not en expected entitlement. It is well outside the role of the administrators to offer individual guidance for group members and in larger groups it is not realistic either. If you have a question, do contact the admins but check the forum first – it is very possible a general notice was placed on the forum in relation to whatever issue earned you a removed post or a slap on the wrist.
If you have any thoughts or comments regarding participating in Facebook crochet or knitting groups, let me know. Have I missed anything? Do you agree? Disagree? I love hearing from you!