Facebook cichlid group etiquette

Facebook Group image from http://www.imtrafficblog.com/.

Here’s the scenario: You wake up one morning, your fish tank just doesn’t look so great. You’re tired of the filter(s) on it anyway and want to try something different. So you start looking at new filters and filter media. You pull up your favorite fish group on Facebook (FB), post a photo of your tank and filter, and start asking questions. Next thing you know, you’ve received 40 replies telling you to buy this and use that…or worse, don’t use this or that. Then all hell breaks loose because someone notices you’re keeping a hap with an mbuna or, heaven forbid, South American and African cichlids together. World War III starts on FB over a simple question about filters and media.

This happens every….single….day. I know, because I see it. As a member of nine FB cichlid groups, it is inevitable. How can this be avoided? The simple answer is only by not posting on FB. Since that’s probably not realistic, how can you post on FB and not start a flame war? You can’t. However, what you can do is understand and follow a few simple unwritten rules.

  • Understand when you ask questions that the probability of getting different answers is relatively high. I say “relatively” because there are some questions that only have one answer. However, the number of subjective questions vastly outweighs the objective ones.
  • Understand that even FB groups have trolls. That’s right. They are everywhere and just want to be disruptive.
  • Answers that you don’t like to questions you ask WILL be the norm. Also the norm will be getting advice that you didn’t ask for and may not even be relevant to your question(s). Many cichlid keepers are very passionate about the hobby, and many of those in these FB groups will speak their mind and be honest. But you may not like the answer you get.
  • Know that some cichlid topics are sensitive. Topics such as hybrids, water change frequency, cichlid mixing, brand choices (e.g., filters, food, heaters) all encourage opinions…and everyone has several of those.
  • Thank people for their help and don’t get snarky even though it might be justified. The surest way to stop getting answers in the future is to post a question and then never say anything again in that thread or to argue about everything. People will remember you.

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