The social stewardship of sharing

I’ve noticed a great and very intentional practice boiling up over on G+ when it comes to re-sharing, and I have adopted the same principle of behaviour in an effort to help encourage others to adopt it as well: “A good social steward acknowledges the person from whom they shared”. This is a great practice in part because, by default, G+ only notes the *originating poster’s* name, not from whom you shared.

But why is this important? Three reasons:

  • The first, and most simple is that it provides direct feedback to the person who reshared that you find the content engaging enough to share it to your circles as well.
  • Secondarily, this also allow extended networks to have visibility to other people around G+ whom you may find interesting. (I’ve personally found a number of very cool people to circle and follow using this method, as they are already up a rung of trust as an extended connection, plus they MUST be cool if they are sharing content which I also find useful and interesting!)
  • The third, and more global reason, however, is the sense of social stewardship. In this ever increasing global community where we’re all more connected, we’ve also become more striated, more detached, and more insular in our networks. A simple “hat tip” to the person you reshared from builds a deeper bond across the social web.

Call it a form of social currency, if you will: where a link noting “Thanks to +Joe for the share/re-share” acts as payment for being able to reshare it yourself… which of course makes an unacknowledged reshare a bit like taking a cookie from the break room but not leaving your fifty cents in the honour jar; not quite stealing, but not exactly in the spirit of things either.

I’ve seen both behaviours in the extreme on G+, as well as Twitter and Facebook (admittedly Twitter can be rough to retain the amount of info in just 140 characters). You don’t have to go overboard and thank the entire chain of people who reshared before it got to you, but it IS good for to at least acknowledge the person you shared from, and if possible the original poster too. Who knows, leading by example may just pay off in a larger, more connected social network able to help you succeed beyond your wildest dreams… or maybe good karma is enough to make it worth your while.