Lately it seems I have seen few more online "battles" and "scuffles" where at least three people are arguing about something. Arguing about something is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it turns ugly and the participants start to tear at each other, it can give a bad perception.
Mack Collier, founder of #blogchat, said recently, "Remember there are 3 sides to every online convo: Your side, my side and the side of everyone watching our exchange."
He's right. When you are publicly arguing online, there are always people watching. On Twitter you can click the quote box on someone's actual Twitter profile to see the entire conversation, you can follow the conversation on TweetDeck and you can follow the conversation in general. Monitoring is easy.
On Facebook, it's even easier because you can just see all the comments right out in the open.
Stating opinions, slight arguments or even small disagreements are okay, in my opinion. When it's a team against another person or two teams against each other and the convo takes a nasty turn, there is a problem because so many people can see it and it does not make anyone look good.
I've been involved in two real online "fights" and I realized afterward that it did not help me or the other person. If you want to fight online or someone is picking a fight online, take it to messaging or do not participate at all. My advice is to try not to do it so publicly.
Common saying: "what goes online is on the internet forever." While someone may not get a screenshot of your argument, unless you go back and delete everything, the argument will stay there for quite a few days and quite a few people will be able to see it. And remember, all tweets are saved in the Library of Congress!
Just be aware of what you are saying and doing online in general because people will talk about it and see it which could lead to a damaged reputation for you.
Other posts about managing your online reputation: