Joining sites is what we all do. We join just about everything without the slightest fear. This is a mistake.
Way back in the days of Bulletin Board Services up sprang a new site which was touted on all the old sites. As people tend to use one particular name; their own or a special nick, and the same passwords, it was quite easy for the New Site to capture everything and go to all the other sites using the accounts of the victims.
Those who experienced this, and you reading this, now understand the clear and present danger of using the same name and password.
Hence Rule 1; Don’t use the same name and password.
Rule 2; Investigate before you Invest.
Lurk. Lurking is good. Lurking is safe. Lurk. Read, see the trends. If it is a message board, see how the people talk to each other, and if the Mod is on site. If it is a writing site, note what is considered good writing, what is 'hot’ or 'starred’ or 'front page’.
Sometimes you will be astounded the kind of rubbish that is considered 'top’. Sometimes you’ll learn the standards you need to achieve. Although Terms of Service need to be read and understood, some sites may hide their intentions.
Rule 3; begin with caution.
When you post be as polite and non-controversial as possible. Take time to learn who these people are, and slowly let them know who you are. Don’t be too open; you don’t need to specify much about yourself. Deal with ideas. Don’t do the personal; do the general. You don’t want persons whose decency has not been tested to know your personal details.
Rule 4; Don’t send down roots.
Some people take a site as their back yard. They ‘live’ there, it is full of their ‘friends’ and they have a Vested Interest in the site. This does not win very much; in fact it is a way to lose in a category that doesn’t even have this kind of rank.
People who own sites are like those who own restaurants. They might not even eat there, they might not care about anything except the bottom line. They can change the menu as it suits them, even the focus of the place. Just because every day for five years you and your friends go in for French Onion Soup doesn’t mean that the Owners have to maintain French Onion Soup on th menu. Hence, when they take away that item, you leave. You may feel upset and angry and that they ‘have no right’ to do this; but alas, they do.
The same with websites. Hence don’t feel any particular need to support or not support the site, to recommend it or contribute more than a fraction of your energy. When it changes, when you feel you want to leave, it will be far less painful.