Netiquette, or net etiquette, refers to etiquette on the Internet. Good netiquette involves respecting others’ privacy and not doing anything online that will annoy or frustrate other people. Three areas where good netiquette is highly stressed are e-mail, online chat, and newsgroups. For example, people that spam other users with unwanted e-mails or flood them with messages have very bad netiquette. You don’t want to be one of those people.
The following are some good net etiquette rules to follow:
- Before you join in a newsgroup or discussion board, always check that your questions are relevant to the group. It is a good idea to watch the conversation (in internet jargon, this is called “lurking”), before you join in. Most groups have an FAQ, (Frequently Asked Questions) list, and if there is no standard message saying where you might find this, then you can put a question to the group/list to ask where you might be able to find an FAQ list.
- Never respond to rude or threatening messages whether in chat, newsgroups or message boards.
- Always leave if the conversation makes you uncomfortable.
- Never engage in a flame war. That is a shouting match (through text) conducted between 2 or more people.
- Never send an email in capital letters. That is considered to be shouting on the Internet.
- Never say nasty or untrue things about others especially in public forums, newsgroups, or chat. These remain in many archives and you could be charged with libel.
- Never forward personal emails sent to you to others without checking with the original sender first.
- Similarly, when forwarding an email to others, respect the privacy of your group of friends or family. Do not publicly broadcast all their email addresses. Learn to use the BCC command which keeps email addresses private.
- When composing emails, use the subject field, as it helps the recipient to identify the email quicker.
- When replying to emails, particularly if they are long and detailed, it is courteous to not quote the entire message in reply, but to quote only what is necessary. This saves on bandwidth. Sometimes email threads can get very large! However there are many instances, especially in a work environment when entire emails are used in replies, and entire email discussion threads are kept. This are maintained as a record of a work discussion, and often takes the place of normal paper correspondence.
Remember that the Internet is ‘a real space’, and email gives you quick and direct access to many people that you would not have similar access to before. People respond to using this space in different ways. It is always courteous and considerate to reply to emails, even if it is only to say that you will give a fuller response when you have more time.