Publishing Responsibilities: I’m Responsible for What I Say

I am responsible for what I say. I am not responsible for what you understand.

This is going around the web and it’s a powerful statement:

I am responsible for what I say.
I am not responsible for what you understand.

It’s a simplified version of:

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
Robert McCloskey

Yet, it goes much further.

How does this relate to social media and web publishing?

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US Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment

Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment v2

Source: Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment (PDF)

The Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment was created by the Air Force Public Affairs Agency’s Emerging Technology Division to create a flow chart path for responding to comments in social media and blogs. While designed for blogs and blog comments, it works across all social networks and online and off-line communications. It’s caught the attention of the social media industry as a solid strategy that businesses should consider when training their staff handling web communications and marketing and establishing clear communication guidelines.

The chart is divided into four areas: Discover, Evaluate, Respond, and Response Considerations. In reality, it covers three areas, Discovery, Evaluation, and Response, as Response Considerations are part of the evaluation.

In general, the chart explains comment responses:

  1. Before responding, consider the source of the response and their attitude and objectives.
  2. Decide how to respond based upon the attitude and objectives of the commenter.
  3. Write the response in consideration of tone, influence, timeliness, transparency, and sourcing (justification and evidence).
  4. Evaluate response and continued conversation, if any, for future considerations and actions.

Among the response options are to monitor only (let the comment stand but take no immediate action), respond with facts to fix the commenter’s falicies or support the original position, respond with a solution to rectify the situation and restore calm and reasonable perspectives, and to reinforce your position positively by “sharing success” and restating your story and mission.