A to Z Challenge

N is for Netiquette

Definition of NETIQUETTE: etiquette governing communication on the Internet.

Well that seems self-explanatory doesn’t it?

But let’s spell it out for the confused people …

(I found these rules here. Pretty good rules, I’d say).

*Remember the Human

Would you say it to the person’s face?

When you communicate electronically, all you see is a computer screen. You don’t have the opportunity to use facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice to communicate your meaning; words — lonely written words — are all you’ve got. When you’re holding a conversation online — whether it’s an email exchange or a response to a discussion group posting — it’s easy to misinterpret your correspondent’s meaning. And it’s frighteningly easy to forget that your correspondent is a person with feelings more or less like your own.

*Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life

Breaking the law is bad Netiquette

In real life, most people are fairly law-abiding, either by disposition or because we’re afraid of getting caught. In cyberspace, the chances of getting caught sometimes seem slim. And, perhaps because people sometimes forget that there’s a human being on the other side of the computer, some people think that a lower standard of ethics or personal behavior is acceptable in cyberspace.

*Know where you are in cyberspace

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.

*Respect other people’s time and bandwidth

You are not the center of cyberspace

It’s a cliché that people today seem to have less time than ever before, even though (or perhaps because) we sleep less and have more labor-saving devices than our grandparents did. When you send email or post to a discussion group, you’re taking up other people’s time (or hoping to). It’s your responsibility to ensure that the time they spend reading your posting isn’t wasted.

*Make yourself look good online

Know what you’re talking about and make sense: Don’t post flame-bait

You will, however, be judged by the quality of your writing. For most people who choose to communicate online, this is an advantage; if they didn’t enjoy using the written word, they wouldn’t be there. So spelling and grammar do count. Be pleasant and polite. Don’t use offensive language, and don’t be confrontational for the sake of confrontation.

*Share expert knowledge

The strength of cyberspace is in its numbers. The reason asking questions online works is that a lot of knowledgeable people are reading the questions. And if even a few of them offer intelligent answers, the sum total of world knowledge increases. The Internet itself was founded and grew because scientists wanted to share information. Gradually, the rest of us got in on the act.

*Be forgiving of other 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. And never be arrogant or self-righteous about it.

My personal biggest online advice? Never, ever, EVER write something in anger and then publish it right afterward. Give it (at least) 24 hours before publishing it online. That will give you time to take a breath, read over your thoughts, edit the nasty out of it and if you STILL feel you need to contribute your thoughts to the issue, THEN hit publish.

Remember folks, once it’s on the internet, it’s THERE to stay. Oh sure, you can delete it, but it’s cached somewhere and someone will likely see it at some point. Interact at your own risk.

I’m participating in the A to Z challenge. Just post something every day with the appropriate letter (except for Sundays), and then submit your link to one of the hosts and don’t forget to visit other participants! Also, you can find other A to Z participants on Twitter via the #atozchallenge hashtag. (This trying to relate the alphabet to your life thing is HARD. It’s taxing my brain and oh look! A puddle of brain mass. Sweet).