Netiquette "Netiquette" is network etiquette, the dos anddonts of online communication. Netiquette covers both common courtesy online and the informal "rules of the road" of cyberspace.
IntroductionWhat is Netiquette?Simply stated, its network etiquette --that is, the etiquette of cyberspace.“Etiquette” means “the forms required by good breeding orprescribed by authority to be required in social or officiallife.”In other words, Netiquette is a set of rules forbehaving properly online.
Rule 1: Remember the HumanThe golden rule: Do unto others as youd have others do unto you. Imagine howyoud feel if you were in the other persons shoes. Stand up for yourself, but try notto hurt peoples feelings.Electronic communication lacks the facial expression, gestures and tone of voice toconvey your meaning. It’s easy to misinterpret meaning of words.Would you say it to the persons face?If the answer is no, rewrite and reread. Repeat the process till you feel sure thatyoud feel as comfortable saying these words to the live person as you do sendingthem through cyberspace.Remember, when you communicate through cyberspace your words are written.Chances are theyre stored somewhere. They can come back and haunt you. Youdont have to be engaged in criminal activity to want to be careful. Any message yousend could be saved or forwarded by its recipient. You have no control over where itgoes.
Rule 2: Adhere to real-life standards of behavior Standards of behavior may be different in some areas of cyberspace, but they are not lower than in real life. Be ethical. If you encounter an ethical dilemma in cyberspace, consult the code you follow in real life. If you use shareware, pay for it. Paying for shareware encourages more people to write shareware. The few dollars probably wont mean much to you, but they benefit all of cyberspace in the long run. Breaking the law is bad Netiquette. If youre tempted to do something thats illegal, chances are its also bad Netiquette.
Rule 3: Know where you are in cyberspaceNetiquette varies from domain to domain. Whats perfectlyacceptable in one area may be dreadfully rude in another.Netiquette is different in different places, so its importantto know where you are.Lurk before you leapWhen you enter a domain of cyberspace thats new to you, take a look around.Spend a while listening to the chat or reading the archives. Get a sense of howthe people who are already there act. Then go ahead and participate.
Rule 4: Respect other peoples time and bandwidthBandwidth is the information-carrying capacity of the wires and channels that connecteveryone in cyberspace. It also refers to the storage capacity of a host system.If you accidentally post the same note to the same newsgroup five times, you arewasting both time (of the people who check each copy) and bandwidth (by sendingrepetitive information over the wires and requiring it to be stored somewhere).You are not the center of cyberspace. Don’t expect instant responses to all yourquestions, and dont assume that all readers will agree with -- or care about -- yourpassionate arguments.Ensure your message is worth the time it takes to open it.Before you copy people on your messages, ask yourself whetherthey really need to know. If the answer is no, dont waste their time. If the answer ismaybe, think twice before you hit the send key.
Rule 5: Make yourself look good onlineTake advantage of your anonymity. You wont be judged bycolor, weight, age or dress sense. You will, however, be judgedby the quality of your writing. So spelling and grammar docount.Know what youre talking about and make sense. Payattention to the content of your writing. Ensure your notes areclear and logical.Be pleasant and polite. Avoid offensive language, and dont beconfrontational for the sake of confrontation.If you must swear, think up creative alternatives.
Rule 6: Share expert knowledgeThe strength of cyberspace is in its numbers. The Internet itself wasfounded and grew because academics wanted to share information.Dont be afraid to share what you know.If you ask a question and anticipate a lot of answers, it’s customaryto request replies by email instead of to the group. Share the resultsof your questions with others, so everyone benefits from the expertswho took the time to write to you.If you’re an expert, or youve researched a topic that you thinkwould be of interest to others, write it up and post it. Sharing yourknowledge is fun. And it makes the world a better place.
Rule 7: Help keep flame wars under control"Flaming" is what people do when they express a strongly heldopinion without holding back any emotion.Netiquette does not forbid flaming. Flaming is a long-standingnetwork tradition (and Netiquette never messes with tradition).Netiquette does forbid the perpetuation of flame wars that candominate the tone and destroy the camaraderie of a discussiongroup.While flame wars can initially be amusing, they’re an unfairmonopolization of bandwidth.
Rule 8: Respect other peoples privacyYou’d never snoop through your colleagues deskdrawers, so naturally you wouldnt read their emaileither.Failing to respect other peoples privacy is not just badNetiquette. It could also cost you your job.
Rule 9: Dont abuse your powerSome people in cyberspace have more power thanothers. There are wizards in MUDs (multi-userdungeons), experts in every office, and systemadministrators in every system.Knowing more than others, or having more power thanthey do, does not give you the right to take advantage ofthem. For example, sysadmins should never read privateemail.
Rule 10: Be forgiving of other people’s mistakesEveryone was a newbie once.When someone makes a mistake -- be kind about it. If its a minor error,you may not need to say anything. Even if you feel strongly about it,think twice before reacting.Having good manners yourself doesnt give you license to correcteveryone else.If you inform someone of a mistake, point it out politely, and preferablyby private email rather than in public.Give people the benefit of the doubt.