When the Internet first started to become popular, it consisted of only a few thousand host
computers (for the history of the Net see the Timeline page). To a small group of people,
the Net was their own little world; they
developed some standards (not laws-just guidelines) regarding behavior on the Internet.
These standards or set of rules are called Netiquette, a contraction of network and etiquette.
Netiquette is often forgotten, overlooked, or not known to many user, particulary
new users (or 'newbies').
However, violation of these guidelines is considered a serious breach and can cause you to be
flamed or spammmed. It is frequently forgotten, when using e-mail and other network tools,
that there are real people on the other end of our electronic corresponsdence. Most of us
would never dream of insulting someone on the telephone or writing a letter while we are angry.
So, why do it on the Net? If the proper rules of Netiquette are followed, then your trip on
this Information Superhighway will be a lot smoother.
Remember the quote, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Well, that is basically
what Netiquette is all about. If a mannerism on the Net annoys you, then it is likely that it
will annoy someone else. As you become familiar with the use of such tools as newsgroups,
chat rooms and e-mail, the appropriate behavior will become apparent. Here are some rules to
be followed when communicating with people via the Net.
DO's and DON'TS
Don't evangelize; meaning do not enter a group and try to prove that you will succeed where millions have failed.
DON'T include the entire contents of a previous posting in your reply.
DO cut mercilessly. Leave just enough to indicate what you're responding to.
DON'T include mail headers except the "From" line. If you can't figure out how to delete lines in your mailer software, paraphrase or type the quoted material in your document.
DON'T start a new topic in a newsgroup if you don't want to discuss the current issue.
DON'T jump right in. Research what the group has been talking about and what has already been said.
DO read the FAQ's before posting to a newsgroup. Reading these questions will inform you of the group's rules and the topics they discuss.
DO remember the immortal words of Martin Farquhar Tupper (1810-1889): "Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech."
DON'T make a posting that says nothing but, "Me too" or "I don't know." Doing this is very agitating to the readers since they won't know what you are responding to.
DON'T reply to a point in a posting without quoting or paraphrasing what you're responding to and who said it. Reason: a dozen postings may occur between the original message and your reply. At some sites your reply may get there before the original.
DO quote (paraphrase) or use the "Subject:" line. By net convention, included lines are preceded by ">" (greater-than signs). Some mail editors and newsreaders do this automatically, others require that you insert the ">" symbol manually.
DON'T tell someone that they are "unAmerican". Remember, the Internet is World-Wide. If you say that to someone from Italy, odds are they won't be offended. However, they probably don't care about a lecture on the First Amendment and American values either.
DO be considerate of others' feelings. Rather than saying, "Counrty music stinks!! Rap rules!" try saying "In my humble opinion (IMHO) country singers express my feelings, choices, and lifestyle." Your mileage may vary (another net cliché YMMV). By the way, (BTW) is another frequent net abbreviation, for what it's worth (FWIW).
DON'T send lines longer than 70 characters. This is a kindness to folks with terminal-based mail editors or newsreaders. Some mail gateways truncate extra characters turning your deathless prose into gibberish.
Some mail editor tools only SEEM to insert line breaks for you, but actually don't, so that every paragraph is one immense line. Learn what your mail editor does.
DON'T send a message saying, "Why doesn't anybody say anything about so and so?" or "Who wants to talk about so and so?"
It's always a risk to start threads. The group may have just finished a long, bitter war about that very subject. But if you want to take the risk, say something yourself about the subject you're raising.
DON'T SEND A MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS. CAPITALIZED MESSAGES ARE HARDER TO READ THAN LOWER CASE OR MIXED CASE.
DO use normal capitalization. Separate you paragraphs with blank lines. Make your message inviting to your potential readers.
DON'T betray confidences. It is all too easy to quote a personal letter in a posting to the entire newsgroup.
DO read the "To:" and "Cc:" lines in your messages before you send it. Are you SURE you want the mail to go there??
DO treat every posting as though you were sending a copy to your boss, your minister, and your worst enemy.
DON'T rely on the ability of your readers to tell the difference between serious statements and satire or sarcasm. It's hard to write funny. It's even harder to write satire.
DO remember that no one can hear your tone of voice. In your writing, use emoticons (smilies) like :/) or ;^) (tilt your head to the right to see the smile). You may also use caps for emphasis only, or use Net writing conventions for italics, and underlines as in: You said, the guitar solo on "Stairway to Heaven" from Led Zepplin was *lame*? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND!?!?
This may not apply to Usenet, but never, ever, use the HTML "blink" tag. BTW: I heard it has been outlawed in 34 countries.
Netiquette is a major part of the Internet. In any situation or circumstance the rules above may be needed and/or used.
If you have any suggestions please E-mail us.