We expect other drivers to observe the rules of the road. The same is true as we travel through cyberspace. That's where netiquette, a term allegedly coined from either network etiquette or Internet etiquette comes in handy. To guide you through your online communications, keep these pointers in mind:
1.Avoid writing e-mail or posting messages in blogs, newsgroups, forums, chat rooms and other online venues using all capital letters. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE SHOUTING! Not only that, it's difficult to read.
2.When you talk with someone, the tone and inflections of your voice convey great meaning. To add personality and humor to your messages, use smileys, also known as emoticons, expressions you create using the characters on your keyboard. Below are some of the more popular smileys. Can you guess what they mean? Roll your cursor over each one to find out.
3.Keep your written communications focused. This is true whether sending e-mail or posting messages online. Few people like reading lengthy text on a computer screen. Many people now receive e-mail on mobile phones and other portable devices. Tiny screens make reading e-mail challenging.
4.To shorten messages, use common abbreviations:
< BTW > means By the Way.
A < G > enclosed in brackets indicates grinning.
A good one to keep handy in case you're worried about offending someone is < IMHO > -- In My Humble Opinion.
One of our favorites is < ROTFL >, which stands for Rolling on the Floor Laughing. A shortened version is < LOL >--Laughing Out Loud. And if you get called away while chatting online, try < BRB >--Be Right Back.
For help with abbreviations, consult a dictionary of Internet Slang.
5.Remember that comments you post to a blog, newsgroup, forum or website and write during a public chat session is a publicly available. You never know who's reading it or who may copy and spread it around. It could come back to haunt you.
6.Stick to the topic when posting a message. Don't indiscriminately post unrelated comments, or worse--advertisements. This practice, known as spamming, will quickly lead to another unpleasant Internet practice, flaming. What is flaming? Sometimes you might offend someone unintentionally. Be prepared to read some angry responses or be treated rudely in a public discussion. This is called being flamed. If you retaliate, you may spark a flame war. To contain the heat, the best response usually is no response at all--or a heartfelt apology.
7.When sending e-mail, make sure that the subject line accurately describes what the message is about. If the topic changes during a string of messages, alter the subject line.
8.If you post a commercial message or send it as an e-mail, clearly identify it in the subject line. That way people who aren't interested can quickly delete it.
9.FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) are handy documents to read before asking questions. Always consult them whenever available.
10.Electronic communications may seem ephemeral, but when you hit the Delete key, they don't go away. In all likelihood, your missives are stored on a mail server and can be retrieved. Think twice before you send e-mail. Consider all your electronic communications to be public and act accordingly. The same holds true for comments you post. They usually can't be retracted and live on and on.
Netiquette isn't something you learn overnight, so don't let your fear of not knowing online protocol hold you back. For more tips, visit Wikipedia's netiquette article.Responsibility in a Virtual World
The Internet has made it possible for people all around the world to connect with each other in meaningful ways. Whether for research, education, business, or just fun, the Internet has changed how we live, work and play in ways we may not even be fully aware of.
As the Internet continues to evolve, so do the issues that influence the way we use it. From privacy and freedom of speech, to honesty and consideration in the way we interact with others, we all have a responsibility to preserve and protect its unique character. That means recognizing that while the medium in many ways is a reflection of the physical world, in other ways it is fundamentally different--manifesting unique customs and practices.
Learn more: E-mail Etiquette
Last update: Jan 11, 2011