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Miss Netiquette’s guide to using Craigslist without acting like a total weirdo

Miss Netiquette's guide to using Craigslist without acting like a total weirdo

The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s got all the advice on Craigslisting.

Craigslist is one of the most helpful websites around and also hands-down chock-full of some of the creepiest stuff I’ve seen since Scott Disick tried to grow a mustache but it turned out to be a bunch of baby spiders in one of my dreams. It’s an interesting digital destination where you can say “Wow, what a fantastic deal on a bike,” and “Is that a penis?” within a few seconds of clicking. Here are my tips for using Craigslist without succumbing to its freak-a-leek underbelly.

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Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m an artist and I really need people to sit and model for still life drawings. How can I solicit models without, ya know, soliciting models?

Make yourself look as legitimate as possible with links to your work, and ask to meet for coffee in a public place before the modeling session. This will help you establish yourself as a non-John and it will help you attract models that aren’t actually sex workers who lucked into a plum gig of just sitting there. Also, police are pretty big into Craigslist prostitution crackdowns, so this will help you avoid one of those awkward undercover-cop-thinks-you-want-to-pay-someone-for-sex-but-you-just-want-to-draw-them situations.

Dear Miss Netiquette: I had the most amazing, serendipitous conversation with this guy on the subway. I’m thinking about writing a “Missed Connection” but I don’t want to freak him out – how should I word it? 

Has anyone actually successfully found love based on a “Missed Connection?” I feel like any successful Craigslist “Missed Connection” romance would’ve been horrifically adapted into a romantic comedy by now. Sorry, got sidetracked – even though I think your “Missed Connection” will likely just result in more romantic disappointment when only single guys with lizards who are emphatically not your Subway Dreamboat respond, I will counsel you now.

Be specific, but don’t infuse the post with too many details. For instance, say “you had blue eyes and we talked about Jesse from Breaking Bad,” not “you had gorgeous blue eyes and I thought you were hotter than Jesse from Breaking Bad and I wanted to make love on the subway platform.” You’re just trying to re-establish connection, not overtly hit on someone. Try to make sure they know it’s them you’re writing about, but don’t bother with trying to seduce them via the Internets just yet. Get them to respond and agree to hang out before you lay on the moves.

Dear Miss Netiquette: I need some extra cash. How do I find odd jobs on Craigslist that are legit and not just backup dancer gigs or sleazy promotions?

The “Gigs” section is basically a dumpster for hope. But like any dumpster, if you look around long enough, you can usually find something that’s not meant to be there. Most of the jobs are the, but you can find a decent way to make extra money. Do not ever say you will be in a student film if you want to actually get paid, they are broke. Do not sign up for dancing jobs of any kind on Craigslist. They will involve some form of humiliation. Some bars post dishwashing positions there, and they generally turn out to be fine – obviously, it’s just dishwashing, so it’s not great, but you won’t end up murdered or robbed of your dignity.

PRO TIP: if you are looking at the Chicago Craigslist and a reality TV show is saying you will get paid $50 for two hours of your time, you might think it’s a great gig. But it is a terrible, degrading trap. It is a very bad reality show called “Weiner Circle” and you should not participate unless you like being cooped up in a verbally abusive hot dog shack while people throw condiments at you and implore you to dance.

Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m driving cross-country and I’m thinking about doing a ride share to lower my gas bill. I don’t want to get stuck with a creeper or weird anyone out with my posting. How can I ensure the best possible experience?

As with the model and artist question above – and any situation involving doing something that makes you vulnerable – it’s always a good idea to be cautious. Make your posting fairly simple and unadorned, so the widest range of people will feel comfortable volunteering to come along. Then prepare a few questions to ask that will help you decide who to bring: If one of you hates country and the other one is a bluegrass singer who planned on playing banjo the whole trip, that’s something good to know.

Don’t be too crazy-specific or rigorous – making people complete a 10 page personality test will scare off the normals, not weed out the weirds. But just attempt to get to know the person a teensy bit and you’ll have a much better time. Give your potential roadtrip buddies a quick Google or Facebook creep to get a general assessment of their personality, and know that they’re probably doing the same to you.

Dear Miss Netiquette: Is there any way to find sex on Craigslist that’s safe? I’m so lonely. 

Not really, no. Though it’s not really more dangerous than any other online way you can arrange for a random hookup, it’s still illegal. If you really want to get jiggy with it now and want to make arrangements via the Internet, just use BangWithFriends already, since then you can maybe hook up with someone you already know. Ew, I can’t believe I just recommended BangWithFriends as an actual solution, but such is life. 

Dear Miss Netiquette: I need to sell my used phone, but I’m worried about being Craigslist-killed. What should I do to avoid murderous crazies?

Don’t invite them to your house. OK, in some situations when you’re selling heavy furniture, it’s easier for them to come to your house, but if you want to really avoid murder-y stuff, just take your home off the table and always meet in a public place. Or have a friend (or two!) be home with you when they arrive, if the thing you’re selling is super heavy. Actually, good rule of thumb: a friend at your side makes it twice as hard for someone to kidnap you. Not impossible, so still aim for a public place, but public place and an extra trusted person will make your encounters much less scary-seeming. 

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Miss Netiquette’s Guide to commenting on the Internet without being an evil troll

The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s going to give you some tips on how to comment on the Internet without devolving into a flesh-eating cretin.
Everyone knows that commenters are the worst. It's like someone took the Internet, shook it upside-down until all the people with souls fell out, put it right side up and then let everyone left log onto YouTube. It's not a pretty picture. But sometimes you want to participate in a discussion, and unless you wrote the article or took the photo in question, commenting is the simplest way to express yourself. And not all commenters are venomous bridge trolls. But if you glance at the comments sections of many, many websites, I'd totally understand why you thought they were the offspring of Satan and a rabid dog.
If you want to be a commenter, you should definitely take care to be respectful and avoid falling into the habit of lowering yourself into the fray. Hopefully the answers I gave some commenting-related questions will help you use the Commenting Force for good.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I just read the dumbest thing I've ever read in my life. I want to kick the author in the shins, and I'm not exaggerating - I would actually cause minor physical harm to this dingbat if I saw him. Is it really so wrong to say how I really feel in the comments?! I find the thesis of the article seriously morally reprehensible.
Slow your Internet commenting roll, my friend. Yes, there are horrible garbage articles on the Internet, and if you strongly disagree with the author's point, you're allowed to express your opposition in the comments. But there's a difference between saying why you thought a piece of writing was misguided and making a personal attack on a writer, and I strongly encourage you to stick with the former. Take the time to sit down and draft out a response that responds to specific points in the article and doesn't just say "you suck, I hate you." Add to the conversation, don't just spit venom. "Be the change you with to see in the Internet" is what Gandhi might have said if he was still kicking it in the 2000s. I know it's hard to exercise restraint, but when you look back on your comment a few weeks from now, I promise you'll be glad you did. Rise above the material.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I put my first video up on YouTube. It's a lighthearted comedy sketch I did with my friends. We're getting a ton of really malignant comments, and I don't know how to handle it (besides crying into a beer). What should I do?
Whenever you put something creative on the Internet, you have to do it knowing that there may be people who don't like it, and people who think that being a huge jerk is the best way to voice their displeasure. It's one of the sad truths of the Web, and it's especially true on YouTube, since that's where most of the bottom-feeder commenters like to trawl. Now, if these commenters are being seriously hateful, you can flag their comments. You can also get comments disabled, although that might not be the best solution if you actually want feedback. Whatever you do, don't take it personally, and don't respond in kind. Haters gonna hate, trolls gonna troll. You're better than them simply for being brave enough to put something you actually care about into the world.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I put up a photo of my friends and I out to eat. Totally innocuous. But somehow the comments below the picture have turned into a political shouting match between my uncle and my college roommate. I love them both, but this is so annoying! Should I let it be, tell them to stop, delete the comments, or just take the picture down?
Facebook commenting wars are especially awkward because they usually involve people who are somehow connected to each other. You have a few ways you can play this. Sure, you can write them both messages, but if they're oblivious enough to think that your picture is an appropriate place to get into a smarter-than-thou war then they probably aren't going to pay your admonitions much heed. I think you should take the picture down and put it back up with a caption saying something like "The first time I put this up the comments got a little out of control. Hoping things are more civil this time around."
And if they start arguing under your picture again, I suggest including them both in a private message that says your pictures are not the right place for comments, but they should feel free to continue their conversation in that message thread. Then you should leave the message thread. And possibly block them.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I think I made a Reddit enemy. Someone keeps downvoting everything I post! I messaged them and they never responded. Should I start downvoting them, too?
No. Don't be a jerk to a jerk. One downvote on each post isn't going to really have any impact on your Reddit experience. Yes, it's annoying, but you should just ignore them and they'll probably tire of it eventually.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I had a horrible experience at a restaurant recently. So I did what any rational netizen would do when confronted with ice cold tacos and suspiciously sour salsa: I wrote a scathing review on Yelp. Now I feel guilty. Did I do the right thing? Am I a troll now? 
I think we should all be a little kinder to each other on the Internet in general, but don't get too worked up about this. If you feel really bad about it, delete it. But if you think the food was actually that bad, and you think other customers will have their nights ruined by going to this restaurant, then you might actually be doing the right thing. I'd ask myself: Is this how the food usually is, or was the restaurant having an off night? Cooks and waitresses are human, and they might have just had a particularly tumultuous evening. That's not an excuse for bad food and bad service, but it might make you think twice about flaming a place that lives and dies on word of mouth. Once you've thought that over, if you think that was just par for the course, I wouldn't feel bad about leaving the review up. If you think maybe it was just an off night, I think you should consider taking the review down and then e-mailing or calling the restaurant and telling them that you had a bad time. They might be so eager to fix the situation and grateful that you didn't publicly flame them that they give you a gift certificate. You could also include a line that explains you hadn't heard bad things about the place before, and perhaps it was an individual situation. 

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Miss Netiquette’s guide to emailing like a pro

The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s going to give you some tips on how to use email without freaking everyone out.

Email seems old school now in the age of Snapchat, Facebook, and a myriad of social media options, but it's still an extremely important method of communication - and it often involves professional communications. What you do in an email matters - people can go back and re-read them, and it's considered a more formal measure of communication than tweeting at someone or sending them a Facebook Message.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I've had the same AOL account for years now, but apparently I'm sending everyone on my contact list spam. It's time for a new email address. Just wondering which service you think is best - Yahoo? Google? Something else?
It's definitely time for a new email - using an AOL account basically signals the world that you're not net-savvy. It's like wearing a digital sign that says "I can't believe all these Nigerian princes have been defrauded!" And it might seem frivolous, but if you're job hunting or sending out professional or serious emails, you need to know that people are judging you by both your address and the domain you choose. Now, Yahoo and Hotmail aren't awful, but they tend to produce more spam, and Gmail is generally considered the most respectable of the big domains. So go with Gmail if you can. If you're in school, you can use your university's email system - though, at least in my personal experience, Gmail is easier to navigate than most university email domains.

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Miss Netiquette’s guide to navigating social media with a significant other

The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at your guide to Web manners, and this week, she's going to give you some tips on how to use social media with your significant other without driving everyone you deal with online insane.
Social media is a great place to share personal updates, including pictures of your family trips, baby photos (within reason), and activities you do with your partner. Couples can use sites like Facebook as digital archives of their romance, and Facebook certainly plays into that - it lets you track the course of your relationship, from the very first wall post to last week's poke. But some people have a hard time figuring out where to draw the digital line when it comes to online coupledom, and wind up making their social media persona less of an individual activity and more of a share-everything two-person outing. Instead of giving someone a house key to signal that you're getting serious about a relationship, nowadays an even more serious show of commitment is handing over your Facebook password - or letting someone post a tweet from your account. When does sharing online networks become a liability and a nuisance?
Dear Miss Netiquette: My parents have a joint Facebook account and it's driving my family nuts. We never know who's saying what. Their joint Gmail is one thing, but this is another thing entirely - right?
 Joint email accounts are awful, but joint Facebook accounts are even worse - and Facebook is really not meant for two people to share one account. It's hard to dissuade older couples who came late to the Facebook game that having a joint account is weird, but I do have one suggestion. You should encourage all of your family members to start giving all the credit to one of your parents for writing on the account - preferably the person in the couple who is less interested in social media. If your dad writes something on your wall and you respond with "Thanks Mom!" enough times, he might get frustrated with not getting recognized and want to get an account on his own.
 Dear Miss Netiquette: I'm friends with an awesome couple. They're always out doing cool stuff. But they're also getting really annoying because they go everywhere cool together, so they tend to post the same exact pictures. So I keep getting double-updates. I don't need to see two identical shots of a winery back to back. Should I say something? 
Well, this is a little tricky. Do your friends have the same friends online? If they have different circles of friends and you just happen to be their shared bud, they're probably both posting so that everyone sees what they're up to - and you can't really blame them for that. If they've been together since high school and have the majority of their social networking pals in common, then it makes sense to suggest that their dual photography schtick is getting redundant. A light-hearted, "I feel like I see your photos in doubles only!" might do the trick. Otherwise, the only thing you can do is change your settings so you only get updates from one half of this couple. Or just accept that sometimes you get not one but two unnecessary brunch pictorials of salmon Eggs Benedict.
Dear Miss Netiquette: My boyfriend and I share a Twitter account, but he keeps re-tweeting Men's Health, and some of the stuff is really lame. How can I convince him to cool it?
The problem isn't that your boyfriend is re-tweeting Men's Health. The problem is that you're sharing a Twitter. Just get your own! It will give you total control over the account, and as an added bonus, you'll both have an extra follower than you did before: each other. And to be honest, since the idea of a couples' Twitter is pretty obnoxious, you might end up with more than one added follower if you branch off and get your own handle.
Dear Miss Netiquette: My boyfriend gave me his password and then we broke up. I couldn't resist the urge to log on and see what he's up to - and apparently he's up to a LOT, and I read messages he wrote to new girls. I feel awful about snooping and I wouldn't have done it again, but he figured out that someone logged onto his account from an unfamiliar location and now he says he's going to sue me! AH!
Exhibit A as to why password sharing can really only lead to trouble. He's probably not going to actually sue you - and while he might argue for online harassment, it probably won't go through court - but he can report you to Facebook and that may leave you with a blocked account. I'm glad you learned from your mistake but you probably just gave your ex some major trust issues.
I'm never going to be able to convince people not to share passwords, but I hope I can counsel you to treat a password like a house key. You wouldn't go into your ex-boyfriend's home and look around, right? (If you would, you have bigger problems than I can help you with right now.) Invading someone's digital account is the same thing morally as poking around in their physical property (although, tell that to the NSA, right?) You know when someone's given you their blessing to log on and check something out it doesn't give you carte blanche to look at every e-mail they've written. Be respectful. If you had continued to snoop around or sent messages from his account, you could be in bigger trouble.
Dear Miss Netiquette: My husband got an Instagram account and gets to see all of our kids' pictures. I don't want one myself, but is it OK if I just go on his from time to time and comment? He said that's fine but my daughter says it's bizarre. 
It is kind of bizarre. You're trying to have your "I'm-too-good-for-Instagram" cake and eat it, too. I can see if you really only want to look at pictures occasionally, but if you think you're going to be logging in once a week or even once a month, just get your own account!

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