Sunday, December 12, 2004

Netiquette (Internet Etiquette)

Netiquette (Internet Etiquette)

For Dr. Sexson
By Tristan Vick

Professor Sexson asked me to research online etiquette for future reference. Many people have their own list of rules, and so my job was simple, just GOOGLE it. Upon my research I found that the University of Wisconsin posted a general list concerning school related classes which may utilize online, or internet active teaching methods. This helped defined the basic rules of Net etiquette, or Netiquette.

The University of Wisconsin states:

A Course is a Course
You may be familiar with many of the previous points if you have participated in other forms of electronic communication in the past. But Web-based courses have some added constraints not present in other arenas. Keep in mind these additional four points:

Remember your place. A Web-based classroom is still a classroom, and comments that would be inappropriate in a regular classroom are likely to be inappropriate in a Web-based course as well. Treat your instructor and your fellow students with respect.

Brevity is best. Be as concise as possible when contributing to a discussion. Web-based courses require a lot of reading, and your points might be missed if hidden in a flood of text. If you have several points that you want to make, it might be a good idea to post them individually, in several more focused messages, rather than as a single, lengthy, all-encompassing message.

Stick to the point. Contributions to a discussion should have a clear subject header, and you need to stick to the subject. Don't waste others' time by going off on irrelevant tangents.

Read first, write later. Don't add your comments to a discussion before reading the comments of other students unless the assignment specifically asks you to. Doing so is tantamount to ignoring your fellow students and is rude. Comments related to the content of previous messages should be posted under them to keep related topics organized, and you should specify the person and the particular point you are following up on.

A must read on the “The Core Rules of Netiquette” one should read the book “Netiquette” by Virginia Shea. For summaries of the core rules, go to:

Another good website on Online, Email, and Digital Internet etiquette can be found at

Other topics are of legal concern, which Virginia Shea also talks about. Among them are some simple laws which most people are unaware of. Please check those out too. I had the rare case of being assaulted verbally, with threats on my life before, whether or not the person intended it as a joke or not doesn’t matter, the threats were in written form. The person was a guy I graduated high school with, and after I showed the emails to my local authorities my classmate was charger with a felony. Show be careful what you say, and know that what you are putting online can be seen by everyone.

Before posting to a person’s individual or private website, webpage, or online journal/blog, you must email them asking permission.

Any graphic, explicit, obscene, offensive, or controversial writings and posts, including images should be LINKED to the website or post instead of directly being posted. A warning should accompany such Links allowing us to prepare and not be totally caught off guard. This is polite, and manners online go a long ways down the road for those who may want to engage more fully on such subject matter. However, for those that don't wish to linger on such subject matter, they are spared their time -yet another curtiousy of Netiquette.

In a class room setting the teacher may set the guidelines seen fit for the project or assignment. Let the teacher dictate what the rules should be, and if they have none, please read this!

Some of my interpretations of Shea’s points of online etiquette (Netiquette) include:

Remember we’re all human. The golden rule your parents and your kindergarten teacher taught you was pretty simple: Do unto others as you'd have others do unto you.

Would you say it to the person's face?Be curtious and polite as you would to that person’s face. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t make them any less human, and we all have feelings.

Another reason not to be offensive online: When you communicate through cyberspace -- via email or on discussion groups -- your words are written. And chances are they're stored somewhere where you have no control over them. In other words, there's a good chance they can come back to haunt you.

Be ethical. This goes without saying, and also relates back to what you would do in real life situations.

Breaking the law is bad Netiquette. If you're tempted to do something that's illegal in cyberspace, chances are it's also bad Netiquette.

Know where you are at in cyberspace. Netiquette varies from domain to domain. What's perfectly acceptable in one area may be dreadfully rude in another. For example, in most TV discussion groups, passing on idle gossip is perfectly permissible. But throwing around unsubstantiated rumors in a journalists' mailing list will make you very unpopular there.

Lurk before you leap When you enter a domain of cyberspace that's new to you, take a look around. Spend a while listening to the chat or reading the archives. Get a sense of how the people who are already there act. Then go ahead and participate. Also, a general rule in my opinion, is one should know what they are talking about. Just like knowing where you are at and what is acceptable, one should also be educated on the discussion before they grace us with their opinions.

Respect other’s time, and bandwidth. People have various speeds and download rates, take this into consideration in situations which may call for this awareness. You are not the center of cyberspace.

Different discussion groups have different rules. This also applies to different class web projects. Depending on the design of the course, project, assignment, and teacher, the rules may be different.

Don't post flame-bait. (Flaming is verbal fighting online) Try to be pleasant and polite. Don't use offensive language, and don't be confrontational for the sake of confrontation.

Q. Is swearing acceptable on the net?
Only in those areas where sewage is considered an art form, e.g., the USENET newsgroup alt.tasteless. Usually, if you feel that cursing in some form is required, it's preferable to use amusing euphemisms like "effing" and "sugar." You may also use the classic asterisk filler -- for example, s***. The archness is somehow appropriate to the net, and you avoid offending anyone needlessly. And everyone will know exactly what you mean.

Know what you're talking about and make sense.

Share your knowledge. Nobody likes a know-it-all. This includes referencing and citing works and website domains.

Moderate your own site! Don’t allow post battles and flame wars to get out of hand with those people who reply to the topics on your site.

Respect other’s privacy, and don’t abuse your power if you are a “computer wiz.” Respect peoples skill level and computer know how, and don’t use it against them. Be kind and helpful to those who may need assistance.

Be forgiving of people’s mistakes.
If you do decide to inform someone of a mistake, point it out politely and preferably by private email rather than in public. Give people the benefit of the doubt; assume they just don't know any better or just made an error. And never be arrogant or self-righteous about it. This only comes off as bad Netiquette.

I hope these guidelines will aid an assist in future web (internet) based projects. To finalize, have fun with the technology, and be creative!

Works Cited

University of Wisconsin

The Core Rules of Netiquette

Online Netiquette

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