Since the start of 2011, Soph Warnes has very kindly hosted Puffles’ original House Rules which I drafted while I was still in the civil service. I tried to compress a series of “Please don’t get me sacked!/Please keep away horrible media fire storms!” rules into the twitter profile but there was not enough space. Those original rules were as follows:
- Puffles does not comment on individual serving/active politicians incl MPs & ministers because the public and civil servants that Puffles buzzes around have to abide by the Civil Service Code – therefore Puffles tries to stick to that code too;
- Puffles does not swear – ever;
- Puffles’ re-tweets (RTs) are “for info only” and do not indicate agreement or disagreement;
- Puffles is a peaceful dragon fairy, deploring violence from/on all sides;
- Puffles asks everyone to keep things legal, polite & peaceful;
- Puffles likes to educate people about how the UK is governed, and likes to inform people of their legal and constitutional rights. Puffles sees such activities as an essential part of being a public or civil servant and Puffles is happy to assist those public and civil servants in that regard;
- Puffles sticks to trade union-authorised campaigns when campaigning to keep the public & civil servants that Puffles buzzes around, out of trouble;
- Puffles refrains from personal insults and asks that other tweeters and tweeple show similar restraint;
- Puffles reserves right to block and/or report for spam anyone Puffles likes, incl spambots, hatebots, trolls and tweeters/tweeple who Puffles decides are behaving in a disruptive or disagreeable manner;
- Puffles reserves the right to lampoon and satirise anything that Puffles wants, but Puffles only aims to do so with a big smile.
Since leaving the civil service, rules 1) and 7) have lapsed – I don’t need to worry about rules on impartiality so long as I remain outside of the employment of firms and organisations that have rules and requirements on getting hands dirty in politics.
That said, the great thing about having these rules in the first place was that they helped set and manage the expectations of those following Puffles’s twitterings. Every so often there would be a response along the lines of:
“Puffles! Why do you unconditionally back that ridiculous statement from [insert name of twitter account/individual]?!?!?!?”
…to which the simple response of
*Puffles (*points*) to House Rule 3 at http://halftheworldiswatching.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/puffles-house-rules/ *
I also guarded Puffles’ Twitterfeed like a hawk – and still do. I check for and block spam accounts on a regular basis – in the early days blocking about four in five new followers. I also took the view of allowing only those who did not follow tens of thousands of accounts to follow back – which did mean blocking one government minister’s account. This meant that the people I was engaging with through Puffles were people who wanted to have productive exchanges and genuinely wanted to learn and broaden their horizons as well as doing their bit to make our world a better place.
I’m still sticking broadly to the remaining eight rules – basically because they’ve served so well. So for those of you who are relatively new to following Puffles, please familiarise yourselves with Puffles’ House Rules. If you are working in the public sector and/or in a role where you have to what what you post because of impartiality rules, feel free to adopt Puffles’ House Rules.