Yesterday we witnessed the power of the RE.net to condemn one agent personally attacking another. The agent being attacked had had a little fun zinging Redfin's business model -- an agent for Redfin was obviously offended and personally attacked the aforementioned agent.
Having fun at the expense of a company is seen as fair play, but personal attacks are out of bounds, especially when the one perpetrating the personal attack is a representative of a company giving the appearance the company is attacking an individual ad hominem. Keeping the attacks and satire on the level of ideas and models will most likely be accepted, while personal attacks will not be accepted.
The problem I see is that the Redfin agent poorly represented her company. She chose to take her anger public using a blog that is sponsored by the company, Redfin, and reflects on Redfin. This was not a good move.
If she had used her own blog to satirize Kris Berg (the agent who satirized Redfin), then it wouldn't desrve much condemnation, if any. From a company standpoint there is also policy to consider and Redfin might have had a problem with her doing it even from her own blog since she is (was) an employee.
Some may feel the Redfin agent deserves another chance, that she probably just got angry and fired off, but most seem to prefer condemnation and alienation, and Redfin's decision to fire her was their decision and their right. Quick action was called for by Redfin and they acted quickly to control the public relations damage and take a stance on principle. It's a legitimate reason to fire someone.
A big problem is that the RE.net knows and loves Kris.
The Redfin agent, Carol Hian, was understandably angry at Kris's satirical joust at Redfin's efforts which are being implemented by individuals such as Carol, but Carol's response was clumsy, too sharply personal and disparaging of the wrong target (food drive) and too damaging to Redfin's image. Carol should've considered the ramifications, but we all know how anger makes us react.
The internet has created high visibility and communities like RE.net have the power to quickly condemn and alienate anyone who offends their sense of justice or propriety. Herein lies a danger. this power should be used wisely and sparingly. Individuals within the RE.net should think long and hard before jumping in to increase the power, and objectivity should always be used to judge any given hot situation. I'm not saying anything inappropriate happened yesterday, but it's a powerful lesson in using good judgement, less the power of a group becomes a weapon to alienate anyone it dislikes in order to protect the ones it likes regardless of the merits of the situation.
Questions that should be asked are:
Am I doing this because my friends are doing it?
Am I doing this to use the power of a group to unfairly squelch an enemy?
Am I doing this to be seen on the "right" side?
Is this reaction really justified?
Am I being objective?
Am I being influenced by a mob that's out of control?
Have I tried to fully understand the situation?
What if it was me who made the mistake?
Is this spurred by self-righteousness and the need to be seen as righteous?
Is this politically motivated to silence a voice I disagree with?
I am all for using the transparency of the net to call out bad players and expose them, but going forward I see how this power can be misused if caution is not taken to think through the initial reactions. The power is so quickly yielded it's open to abuse, a blood sport of sorts where each tries to be the first to ignite the outrage and gather support.
As I said, I'm not accusing anyone of acting rashly or unwisely, I just feel the need to sound a warning. Power can corrupt; total power can corrupt totally, as they say.
I don't know Carol, but if she recognizes her mistake in judgment and is truly an otherwise good person with no ingrained ill intent, I hope this hasn't ruined her.