5 simple principles of proper netiquette

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In the information superhighway, netiquette (internet-etiquette) are the rules of the road. These simple guide posts on good manners in online communication will not only make you seem like a great person to talk to, but more importantly, it helps you become better understood, exude professionalism, and create a positive online reputation that will lead you to more lasting and meaningful connections.

Here are some guide posts on online behavior:

1. It’s all about respect

Just like in face to face communication, courtesy goes a long way in making everyone’s internet experience pleasant and enjoyable. Always think of how you would want to be treated. That’s probably how others want to be treated too.

2. Core rules of netiquette

In her book Netiquette, Writer Virginia Shea wrote these important guidelines :

  • Remember the human – this is the Golden Rule of internet communications. Always be aware that you are talking to a person, not a device. Therefore, the same rules of courtesy apply.
  • Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life
  • Know where you are in cyberspace – netiquette varies from domain to domain. What is acceptable in a chat room may not be appropriate in a professional forum so “lurk before you leap”.
  • Respect other people’s time and bandwidth
  • Make yourself look good online – spelling and grammar count! Always write thoughtful posts and keep your language clean.
  • Share expert knowledge
  • Help keep flame* wars under control
  • Respect other people’s privacy
  • Don’t abuse your power
  • Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes

If you want to know more about these rules, go to 10 Core Rules where each one is explained at length.

*Flaming is writing content online that intentionally invokes responses such as rage, sadness, humiliation, self-doubt, and others. From: No bullying.com.

3. Netiquette basics

These basic rules are adapted and updated from living internet.com :

  • Help the newbies – good netiquette dictates that you share your knowledge to new users by answering some of their questions. Remember, you too were a newbie once.
  • Research before asking – most sites have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page to guide new users. Read this before emailing or messaging so as not to waste other people’s time.
  • Remember emotion – subtle emotions and meanings do not transmit very well in an email or a post. However, do not use all caps as it designates shouting, or overuse smileys and emoticons as these may make you look unprofessional. Constructing your sentences carefully and checking (and re-checking, several times) what you write before hitting send is always a good policy.

Living internet.com also has helpful tips on the Netiquette of sending, Netiquette of replying, and Netiquette of confidentiality. You can read them here: Internet Etiquette.

Watch this video from Howcast that has practical netiquette tips:

4. The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics

(from the Computer Ethics Institute)

  • Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
  • Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work.
  • Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s computer files.
  • Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
  • Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
  • Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.
  • Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or proper compensation.
  • Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
  • Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
  • Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that insure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.

5. Remember that your digital footprint can be tracked

Even if you write under an alias or a made-up handle, the account can easily be traced back to you. So don’t think that you won’t be found out if you write nasty remarks on your boss’s blog, or that your posts flaming somebody in a forum can be easily remedied by deleting them. Your activities online leave data that may be stored and can be retrieved. Always be a decent and responsible netizen.

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Community Resources

Here’s a self-scoring quiz on netiquette from the Northern Kentucky University that you can take to see if you are a responsible netizen. Betty’s Netiquette Quiz is a great tool for kids to know if they are a good cyber citizen or not (click on the icon to run Adobe Flash Player).

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5 simple rules of proper netiquette

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