What Is Online Etiquette (or Netiquette)?
When communicating in an online class, posting discussions, sending emails, or course messages, it is important to remember several rules of etiquette:
- Avoid language that may come across as strong or offensive. Language can be easily misinterpreted in written communication. If a point must be stressed, review the statement to make sure that an outsider reading it would not be offended. Humor and sarcasm may easily be misinterpreted as well, so try to be as matter-of-fact and professional as possible.
- Keep writing to a point and stay on topic. Online courses require a lot of reading. When writing, keep sentences focused and brief so that readers do not get lost in wordy paragraphs and miss the point of the statement. Also, do not introduce new topics; it may just confuse the readers.
- Read first, write later. It is important to read all posts or comments of students and instructors within the course discussion before personally commenting to prevent repeating commentary or asking questions that have already been answered.
- Review, review, then send. There’s no taking back a comment that has already been sent, so it is important to double-check all writing to make sure that it clearly conveys the exact intended message.
- The language of the Internet. Certain aspects of Internet communication are not appropriate in the online classroom. For example, do not write using all capital letters (which is considered shouting) and do not use “IM” language or emoticons. Always write in complete sentences and check your grammar.
- Consider the privacy of others. Ask permission prior to giving out a classmate’s email address or other information.
- No inappropriate material. Do not forward virus warnings, chain letters, jokes, etc. to classmates or instructors. The sharing of pornographic material is forbidden.
Some of this material adapted from The Core Rules of Netiquette excerpted from the book Netiquette, by Virginia Shea.