Netiquette Breach?

So, the strangest thing just happened to me. I’m a very serious hobbyist photographer, and I’m quite active in a number of photography forums. I’m quite used to getting e-mails from people who either have visited my website, or have questions that require a more direct answer than would be good on a message board.

Well, I took some pictures around Columbus yesterday, and posted a few to a message board, and this morning, I get a phone call. This guy just starts talking to me about my camera, and that he’s got the same one, and do I like a certain lens, and he just got this lens, and it’s good, etc… Very strange, and a bit creepy, frankly. He was very nice, and I didn’t want to be rude, but it seemed to be a very large breach of netiquette to me. He said he was 75 years old, so it’s possible he’s just a lonely guy trying to find another local photographer with a similar passion. I don’t know really how to feel about it.

Anyway, just odd.

How did he get your phone number?

Phone book.

Given his age, I’d just chalk it up to older people being much more comfortable talking on the phone than through emails/forums. Since I grew up with the internet, I’m just the opposite.

You put your real name on a website that’s intended for leisure-time perusal?


My real name is on my photography web site. I have no problems with that. (Nor have I EVER seen a photographer have a website where they don’ t have their name on it). My copyright on my photos has my name. Not unusual for a photographer. In 5 years of having my website up, and a combined 10,000 posts on photography forums, this is the first time anyone has called me (aside from asking me to do a paid job for them.) I just found it weird.

Many photographers do. I’m not sure what significance ‘leisure-time perusal’ has to using or not using your real name.

Ah, of course. Yeah, I’d go with old guy who likes to phone rather than email, but I still wouldn’t like it much because I don’t want random people phoning me. It is awkward, though, because how do you tell someone on the phone, “Uh, dude, can you, you know, email me like a normal person?”

SDMB is for leisure-time perusal. I don’t put my real name here, or my contact information. If I was interested in drumming up paying gigs for a hobby of mine, this isn’t where I’d do it. But on the websites I do use to network for business*, I don’t think I’d find it particularly strange if I got a non-business call from somebody who saw my work on that website, wanting to discuss our mutual area of interest.

Well, maybe a little strange, but not completely off the wall.

*ETA: JFTR, I don’t use any hobby-related websites. It was a hypothetical conditional.

I’d be freaked out - there are websites where I use my real name, and maybe if I also listed my phone number, I could understand it. I’d still think it was a bit odd, for a first contact out of the blue, but I could understand it. But to go to the trouble of looking you up in the phone book to call you? That’s beyond odd and into utterly bizarre, IMHO.

Actually, you have a photography website, and someone calls you to talk about photography…and you find that weird?

(Ran out of edit time - I wanted to add that I’m aware that I have issues with phones; I hate talking on the phone. So it may well just be me being weird that makes it seem so odd to me…)

I don’t think it’s the phone call as much as the person looking up their name in the phone book. There seems to be a general etiquette that you don’t use someone’s phone number for personal reasons if that person hasn’t actually given it to you. (Especially if you’ve never met.)

I found out about it when I called a girl I liked because I found her phone number. She freaked, and I didn’t get it, until a different girl did it to me. (Fortunately, we were already friends, so I was able to explain I found it a bit weird. We wound up in a sorta relationship, as it turned out she was crushing on me.)

Big T has it right. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in talking about photography with someone. I have people e-mail me all the time with questions, even when not connected with a message board. I have no issues with it…it was the ‘I’m going to call a complete stranger just to chat.’ He didn’t have questions for me…he just wanted to talk about photography and equipment, like I was a buddy. He seemed nice enough, but it was very strange.

Anyway, I dug a bit deeper and feel a little less freaked by it. His caller ID came up as who he said he was, his entry shows him as age 65+ (so no lying there), and he lives where he said he lived. Also, I found that if you search for the camera in question and my city, that thread that he saw is the first hit on Google, so it’s likely he wasn’t a forum member, but came across the thread and, not being a technology guy, didn’t know how else to contact me, so he looked me up.

If he’s 75, then he did what was socially acceptable pretty much his whole life. He didn’t grow up with email and computers and technology (neither did I and I’m only 50!). It sounds like something my dad would have done. I’m glad you were able to verify the info. I’m sure it was just a friendly call from someone who felt that would be ok.

He didn’t grow up with them, but he figured out how to use the internet because he found the OP’s photos in the first place. So on one level he’s probably comfortable with email. But you’re right that he probably doesn’t see the phone call as odd.