ME on MONDAY – today: A Facebook Frazzle

making a few musings…

Might I suggest? 
Admins of Facebook (and similar Social media) take note?
I had an unfortunate, upsetting and frustrating experience the other week regarding a Facebook group to which I had joined. I won’t name it, those who know me will know what group it was – nothing to do with books or writing, though.
First of all the fault WAS mine, I made the error. A stupid one, BUT it was wholly unintentional and a misunderstanding on my part.
Two factors caused the problem:
1) I had made an (obviously erroneous) assumption 
2) my visual impairment. 
The group was connected to my past and when I started writing my Jan Christopher Murder Mysteries I thought others in this group would be interested in the subject and location because the books are set in the 1970s, and some scenes etc are relevant to the group. I also thought I would be able to ask for help if I needed any ‘historical’ research.
So, I posted about the first book (A Mirror Murder) and had some lovely, supportive responses – and as a bonus met up (online) with some ‘old’ friends. (I can use the term ‘old’ without treading on toes as many of us are the same age!)
Naturally, because of these positive responses – including a couple from the site administrator/s – I assumed I was OK to mention the books and add buying links etc..
Apparently not.
For Episode#3 (A Mistake of Murder) I needed some detailed information whilst writing it, so again posted – and again received some wonderful, extremely helpful comments. When publication day was approaching I posted the pre-order link and thanked the people who had helped me. Again an enthusiastic response.
Naturally, because previous posts had ben OK, I assumed it would be acceptable to share with the group that the book was finally published… the intention being to share and celebrate with friends who were interested. I was then a bit puzzled when the post disappeared. I automatically assumed this was because Facebook was messing about, (as it often does) so tried again – same result.
Yes, I should have stopped and thought about this … but I didn’t. I guess we’re all far too used to the weird quirks of Facebook to question things that happen?
Instead, I altered the previous post – that was still there – from ‘ available soon’ to ‘now available’. That post also disappeared. Now I was concerned. What’s going on?
THEN I noticed the flagged warning message on the group sidebar.
Somewhat curt, ‘you’ve been warned’ etc. I was horrified! Oh crikey I’ve stepped right into an embarrassing blooper!
Let me state here: I am visually impaired. Stuff on sidebars, especially in a small, light blue or red font are virtually invisible to me. 
First thought: contact admin, apologise and explain. 
It was fairly late in the evening. I know from past experience that not all admins (for various reasons) pick up messages, so I sent the same message to all three of the ones named at the top of the admin list.
I apologised. I explained that as other posts had been acceptable I assumed these latest ones would be as well. I also explained that I hadn’t seen the flagged warnings .. literally hadn’t seen them.
And was baffled, frustrated (and yes, annoyed!) to receive back a curt, hostile reply in which my explanation and mention of visual impairment was completely ignored.
I tried again to explain. (Do admins really HAVE to be so belligerently myopic to a genuine mistake?)
Yes I was wrong. I wouldn’t make such a blunder again – more apologies. All fell on deaf ears.  
I politely asked ‘if I was to open my own small group page, would I be permitted to run it past an admin first, then post the new link on the group page?’
Answer: “No.”
I informed that I would be leaving the group after I’d ‘friended’ any contacts I wanted to stay in touch with – and informing my closer friends of what had happened.
A comment was made in public asking why I had been banned. The Admins responded that I hadn’t been banned (perfectly true, I hadn’t) but also their comment had, well, let’s say it contained a somewhat distorted, grumpy version of events which left out that I had apologised and the reason behind my blunder. 
I, naturally, wanted to make a ‘right to reply’ which went something like this:
“Assuming this doesn’t get deleted… I would like to make a polite response. First – no I have not been banned. I have told the admins that I want to ensure I have ‘friended’ people who I’ve made contact with on here and will then leave the group if that is what they want me to do.  2) no I didn’t read the rules but I have similar posts on here which include positive comments left by a couple of admins. So naturally, I assumed I was not offending anyone by mentioning my books. 3) To say that I ignored or wouldn’t accept warnings is incorrect. I have apologised for my misunderstanding several times and pointed out that I had not SEEN any warnings because I am visually impaired – so literally didn’t see them – hence I erroneously continued to post. Had I been aware of the issue I would have altered the posts towards general chat and not ‘advertising’. I have tried to explain this, not to be awkward just to explain.  (I actually thought that a post being deleted was Facebook messing about again) 4) Yes I messaged several of the admins as I am well aware that many admins do not pick up messages, so  wanted to urgently contact at least someone in order to explain. 5) I have apologised several times for my error and I would far rather have sorted this out amicably. 
I am deeply upset about all this – for making an unintentional blunder on my part, but mostly because the group has been so very helpful with research/remembering the 1970s. My sole intention was to keep kind people up to date and let them know when the interaction came to fruition – sadly because I didn’t realise my faux pas, things have gone horribly wrong. So again I apologise for any offence caused to anyone – but I do think there’s perhaps been unfortunate misunderstandings on both sides. I will be leaving the group as I no longer feel welcome, but would very much like to remain in contact if anyone wishes to ‘friend’ me.’
The post was rejected. 
I copied it to an admin. No reply. 
SO, anyone in an admin role, please take note:
  • Yes, there are people out there who blatantly and intentionally break group rules.
  • Yes, there are annoying, persistent Trolls out there as well.
  • Some of us, however, simply make unintentional mistakes.
  • There is no need to be rude or hostile when someone genuinely tries to explain.
  • NOT ONCE did the admins acknowledge my explanation of why I didn’t see their messages. Why was this? Do they think I’m fibbing about my sight perhaps? I genuinely wanted to apologise and set things right. I met with uncomfortable ‘job’s-worth’ type hostility. 
  • My thanks to those in the group who have kindly supported me though. I appreciate your friendship very much,

just for the record;
my official registration card
This comment left on my Facebook post nicely sums up how I feel:
‘…and then the person politely trying to explain is often either treated like a trouble maker or actually told to “stop causing trouble and just let it be” or something along those lines.’
My Reply
I think the point above has squarely hit the nail on the head – because I tried to explain that I’d misunderstood and had made a genuine mistake I was immediately regarded as a troublemaker – and yes, basically told to ‘stop causing trouble and go away’ rather than a polite response and some sort of courteous effort to mutually sort the matter out.
To sum up. 
Rules are rules. Spam/advertising IS a huge nuisance and too many take liberties BUT Admins, please take note – misunderstandings and mistakes also happen. Don’t automatically assume that the person messaging you is an outright trouble-maker who won’t take no for an answer. 
Some of us really are horrified that we’ve blundered and genuinely want to put things right.
As an Admin you really do not need to be rude, officious and strut around Social Media as if you’ve every right to be an officious twat. 
At the moment I’m not particularly impressed by certain admins on Facebook… 

By the way … I’ve left the group.

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Cheers until next week.