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Talking Politics at Work When the Web is Your Workplace

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The Wall Street Journal’s CareerJournal offers tips about talking politics in the workplace, including “If you do want to share your opinions, don’t bash those with whom you disagree” and “Don’t assume people feel the way you think they do.” That’s even more important to keep in mind if your workplace extends onto the web, through tools like blogs. Instead of being heard by three people in the break room, your rant about one presidential candidate or another could be read by thousands and archived for future bosses or clients to see.

But the web is such a great place to discuss political ideas and candidates, you may not want to rule out political discussion online entirely. You may seek authenticity and transparency in the way you conduct yourself online — that’s an attitude common to many web workers — and you may enjoy honestly expressing your opinion about issues that matter. If you do have an urge to join into the political conversation, however, you need to do it in a way that doesn’t create a long-lasting reputation for extremism or rancor.

Do you join into political conversation online? If so, how?

6 Responses to “Talking Politics at Work When the Web is Your Workplace”

  1. I run an online artist’s community and our forum has always alllowed our members to discuss more than just art. Although we did have to have some spaces set up just for non-art talk so that the artists who wanted to talk business only could easily avoid topics that were of no interet. And in general, this works out well. But our normally harmonious community goes a little nuts during presidential election years (2004 was a NASTY year) so we’re already hard at work to make sure that people stick to the facts, don’t make things personal, and that no side of the political spectrum feels ostracized or censured.

    We’re probably nuts for allowing our members to do this (especially since we lost customers as a result of forum nastiness last go round) but we’re trying to respect the wishes of the vocal part of our community by allowing political talk. I am hoping we all learned something from what went wrong on our forums in the past and can be a model of civility this year.

    I’ll let you all know in 10 months if we all survive this, lol.

  2. I figure professional pundits and newspeople/bloggers will cover the obvious (how and why did this go wrong, why the polls were off base, etc.), so I tend to focus on a particular item that puzzles me or that I would like to explore.

    After reading some of the comments, though, I may become part of a forum where I can be exposed to views in opposition to my own in a more robust way than the comments part of my blog allows for.

  3. I will occasionally put forth political topics on my business blog but as a way to persuade people to take an interest in our government and world affairs. I’ve been trying lately to persuade people to register to vote. My personal political beliefs (and who I support for President) are also on there but I make it known that it is not important if we agree. It’s more important to get informed and use our right to vote. I talk with a lot of complacent adults who think that what our government (local, state, & federal) does and doesn’t do has no affect on their lives at all… it’s shocking. *_*

  4. Have you thought about joining a political forum? You can be an anonymous poster veiling your identity with a screen name (as I have done) or you can throw your real name out there if you choose.

    There are some very good forum communities out there and there are some terrible ones. Once you begin posting, you will discover pretty quickly which ones are worth staying with. Asking other forum members where else they post is also a good indicator of where quality forums are located.

    The benefit is two-fold: you are immediately exposed to contrary opinions and the give & take sharpens your own views in the process. Frequently forum members find and discuss stories days ahead of the mainstream media and that can only be helpful in keeping tabs on your world. In my opinion, political forums are the soapboxes of the new century because everyone can put in their two cents for whatever it’s worth.