The Etiquette of Tagging on Facebook

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I actually do a fair amount of my work through Facebook as far as picking up pop culture news, crowdsourcing ideas, and connecting with bands and artists. Of course, I also do a lot of not-my-work on Facebook because it sucks in your soul like some kind of reverse Ark of the Covenant. Which brings us to tagging.

Facebook allows you to identify people in pictures, or people who were with you when the pictures were taken, or link you to an ongoing discussion in the comments. It's as simple as typing their name most of the time, and it can range from endearing to extremely annoying.

After having to correct several people this week, I thought I'd make a list of simple do's and don't's when it comes to tagging. Hopefully it will smooth out the ride for us all.

DO: Tag pleasant pictures that really have your friends in it. Family outings, vacations and just life in general make for wonderful social media content. Everyone loves that.

DON'T: Automatically tag people drinking, smoking, booty shaking or engaging in other after-hours shenanigans in pictures. Ask first. Remember, 92 percent of employers are using or are planning to use Facebook to check out new hires, and the two biggest turnoffs are alcohol and bad grammar. You don't want your friend to lose a job over, "GAWWDD! Ur so waisted here lol."

DO: Tag someone in a comment if they aren't friends with the person you're talking to but may have some insight. For instance, I had a friend looking for a pug breeder, and I tagged my aunt who has had pugs for years. The friend, from my raging weirdo goth circle, and my aunt, from my more conservative family circle, had a nice chat and someone got a puppy!

DON'T: Tag someone in order to bring them into an argument. 'Oh yeah? You think every girl who has had an abortion is a whore? Well, [Alias McMadeupname], what do YOU think?" You don't win arguments by outnumbering your opponent, and it's bad form to conscript people in any case. Trust me, we're all already fighting our own little wars. No one needs to do it on two fronts.

DO: Tag people who have dedicated shared interests. I have a core of about ten online friends who are all Doctor Who fanatics. Whenever I find something awesome Doctor Who, I'll tag them and we'll all have a wonderful, nerdtastic discussion.

DON'T: Tag people in causes unless they have shown specific interest in that cause before. Raising money to help people with medical bills, or calls to write your congressmen over impending legislation, or rescuing animals are all noble endeavors. If they really matter to you, send someone a message. Mass tagging such things is the equivalent of "reply all" e-mail spam, and has just about as much chance of getting anything done.

DO: Remember that it can be hard to untag yourself using a phone app, that people often have notifications for tagging on their phones, and that repeated notifications can interrupt work or other events. If you have a friend who normally posts from mobile, it might be a good idea to just share a link on his timeline instead of pulling him into a big round-table comment session.

DON'T: Tag people in older pictures of themselves without asking permission first. We've all gone through that period where we dug out old film photos, scanned them in and went on a tagging spree. It's perfectly innocent and wonderful, but a lot of people are touchy about how they used to look. They don't want their friends and family to see their lordly mullet and acid-washed jeans.

DO: Be aware that anything you tag someone in can be seen by all his or her friends. Your timeline ceases to be a tiny private bubble the moment you invite in another circle through tagging. I cannot stress this enough when it comes to sexy pictures of your female friends. Their Nana doesn't need to see that, but now she can thanks to you.

DON'T: Tag more than ten people at once. Unless you're tagging a giant group photo or something similar, there is no reason to tag more than ten people in a post or pic, especially if they don't all know each other. It turns into an online, forced playdate and makes for awkward interaction at best.

AND A FINAL DON'T: Tag people in comments when they are clearly already listening and responding. If they keep answering, then there's no need to add a further notification that may need to be erased from e-mail or highlighted to get off your phone. If you want to address a single person when there are multiple commenters, just type his or her name without tagging.

Happy onlining, everyone.

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