16 June 2006

Playing Well with Others -- Or Not

Okay, I totally admit it -- I don't play well with others!

Actually, I'm more of the opinion that it's the others who have the problems and not me. But since I have been thrown out of 4 groups online, I do accept the possiblity that I'm the problem. Afterall, how could so many wonderful and generous people get along and I don't seem to be able to??? Makes me laugh!

The latest group was an women's artist group called WWAO. It was really interesting or so I thought at first. Women artists getting together to discuss art, marketing, making art -- all from a woman's perspective. The honeymoon lasted about a month. Then the real nature of the group became apparent. Only a handful of members ever posted. Most of the posts had to do with whining about various things -- some art related and some just general whining. (Hence, my nickname of Whiny Women's Association Online!) Or the posts were links to new art work, so everyone would post how wonderful that piece was, no matter how bad it was. (All art was considered absolutely terrific and would surely sell for big bucks!)

I basically ignored most of these posts. I mean, if I actually told these people what I thought of some of their 'artwork' I would be hung! I know that my opinions would be considered harsh, so I kept them to myself in the name of group harmony. I would post to questions about techniques or websites or ideas for inspiration, and I think I had some very valuable things to contribute.

But then last fall came the 2 weeks of whining about how much a few artists were spending on promoting charity auctions. (It costs $10 plus listing fees to list a charity auction thru eBay.) One lady mentioned that she had spent over $200 in the last month on charity auctions with very few bids. For some reason, this really annoyed me. Partly because her husband is an airline pilot making $150,000+ so $200 is not a major problem to her. Partly because she's complaining that her bad reproductions of her paintings aren't selling for $50-90, which is more than my originals sell for. And partly, because this then brought out everyone else to complain about how much they spent on charity auctions. I finally sent a post and basically said that no one is forced to donate to a charity and that when one gives to a charity, it should be done with no expectations of getting anything back.

(Side note on charities and auctions: very few artists donate to charities without the idea that they will either get free publicity, further commissions, or some benefit beyond helping a charity. Some artists use charity auctions just for the publicity and will donate only 10% to the charity. Thus the charity will spend more on bookkeeping than they will receive in the donation.)

So, I get this email from one of the monitors saying how I had hurt so many people and she had received a number of complaints about my post. Thus, all my posts would need to be approved by her first before they would be sent out to the group. I personally took this as censorship and told her that I would refrain from posting. It was a bit confusing since only weeks before I had been told that this group was different because we were all free to speak our minds.

That was last fall, and I never did post anything further to the group, although I did email a few people privately. Today, I get this form letter saying I'm kicked out for not posting. The choice comes down to this -- have my posts censored or be kicked out.

Well, I can't say that I'm all that broke-up about getting thrown out. Once one eliminated all the whining posts, very few posts had anything helpful in it. Belonging to any group, has benefits and costs. This one was 50-50 as to whether the benefits outweighed the costs. My only complaints are that I'm still receiving their emails (if I'm out, then stop the posts!), and I now have to remove their logo from a number of auctions and eBay store items.

So, be warned -- I don't play well with others!

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