Today, you cannot deny how big the Internet has become. It has evolved into one of the biggest forms of media in the modern world. We spend almost all our days online and can do practically everything on it. The Internet has become a whole new world where there are, much like in real life, rules and regulations to keep the peace and order. These rules, although not formally set, are known collectively as Netiquette. They are important because they promote respect and understanding among Internet users. Here are some general netiquette rules that you should never forget.
1. You’re Interacting with a Human Being
Even though you are facing a computer monitor, do not forget that you are actually interacting with another person. You are dealing with someone who has feelings and a personality. Remember to treat people online as you would offline: with respect and with regard to their emotions.
2. TYPING in ALL CAPS is SHOUTING
Did you see what I just did there? Yes, I just yelled at you through your computer screen. In real life, it doesn’t feel good to get yelled at and that doesn’t change online. Avoid using all capital letters unless you absolutely have to (like making an emphasis) because it is the same as shouting. It is rude and can be quite hard to read.
Emoticons or emotion icons are facial expressions represented by different characters such as letters and punctuations. In some sites and forums, these characters are automatically converted to corresponding images. Emoticons are useful in expressing your current mood. Just remember to use them in moderation so they don’t completely take over what you’ve written.
4. Abbreviations and Slang
Abbreviations and internet slang are great tools for shortening or speeding up conversations. However, in my opinion, using them should be kept to a minimum unless you are absolutely sure that the other person will understand what you are saying. Plus, you might sound unintelligible if you overuse them.
5. Proper Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation Please
Try as much as possible to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. As previously mentioned, using all caps signifies shouting. If you fail to use proper punctuation, people will perceive you as rambling and your message will not be fully understood. As for proper spelling and grammar, they just make you look intelligent and more credible, not mention highly understandable.
6. Brief and to the Point
Nowadays, everyone is pressed for time. It is important that you keep your emails, messages, and posts brief and straight to the point. Make sure you have provided the necessary information without writing a long-winded composition.
7. Check the FAQs First
If you are unsure of some things on a certain website, forum, online group, or even email provider, turn to their FAQs before contacting customer support. You will most probably find answers to your concerns in this document.
8. Don’t Be Reckless with Email
Before sending an email, make sure that you have the right email address and the appropriate subject. Make sure your message is direct to the point. Do not attach large files unless the receiver is aware of it. When sending to multiple people, use Blind Carbon Copy or Distribution Lists rather than typing all the addresses in the TO: field. Do not forward things that you yourself would not read. Don’t flood other people’s inboxes with chain letters, jokes, and scams. And of course, do not expect people to respond to your email right away. Be patient and don’t send countless follow up emails.
9. How to Act in Forums
Forums and online groups have varying rules and regulations. Read about these things before doing anything on the site. This will save you from committing violations that can get you banned or kicked out of the site. It is recommended that you lurk or look around to get a feel of the culture of a particular forum. When interacting with other members, make sure that you are courteous and respectful. Try to stay on topic and to actually contribute something to the conversation. Do not spam, scam, flame, or troll. Do not abuse your privileges such as the ability to post pictures or to create signatures.
10. Learn the Art of Self-Censorship
Thanks to social networking sites, it is now easy to find information about someone. This is why you should choose what personal information and data goes online. Do not post anything that can be used against you in any way. Do not put up incriminating photographs such as those where you are naked, partying, drunk, or doing peculiar things. Be careful about the comments and posts you make.
11. It’s All Public
In spite of the passwords and privacy settings, you should consider everything you put on the Internet as public. Emails, comments, photos, personal information, and other data are likely to be stored in a server somewhere and may be retrieved if needed. You don’t want to post something that you will regret in the future.
12. Mind the Law
Even though the Internet is like a whole different place, there are countries that enforce laws related to Internet use. These laws vary so be sure to check the existing laws in your country so you don’t break one unknowingly. You can be punished in real life for something you did online.
These rules and guidelines are just general ones that many people still disregard or choose to be unaware of. It seems like reminders are necessary once in a while. Remember that the Internet is so vast and the users are so varied that there is really no one set of rules for people to follow. Rules can vary from one site to the other so just be observant and flexible. And of course, common courtesy and overall respect is needed. In the end, the aim of these rules is to make Internet use a pleasant one for everyone. Are there any rules you would like to remind people about?
Top Photo Credit: Tiny Pointy Bear