Netiquette

In college or university, you are expected to treat your classmates and instructors with respect when speaking to them. The same is true when writing emails or communicating to them through blog comments, Facebook or Twitter.

What the heck are you talking about?

Netiquette is network etiquette, an expected level of conduct or behaviour when communicating using the Internet. It’s good manners for the Internet: think before you post.

Rules to type by:

  • Typing in all-capitals is the equivalent to shouting. DO NOT USE ALL CAPS unless you want to express a point or to appear to be yelling.
  • Try to reserve sarcasm for in-person communications. It is very difficult to write sarcasm because the tone of voice and body language communicate sarcasm more than the words themselves. Because reading sarcasm can be misunderstood, it’s best to avoid it in written communications.
  • If you MUST attempt sarcasm, include emoticons accordingly.

Email Netiquette Do’s and Don’ts:

DO ask permission to forward personal messages from other people. Most people assume emails will be kept private, so asking permission is good manners.

DON’T send virus warnings to contacts. Most virus warnings are hoaxes and can have viruses attached if opened. Instead, check Snopes.com or do a basic web search to see if the warning is real or a hoax. 

DO use a descriptive subject line. This is particularly true if an email requires immediate action.

DON’T forward forwards. So you got a hilarious joke from your cousin’s uncle’s girlfriend that all your friends will like or you need to send an email to 25 people in the next hour or you’ll have bad luck for 5 years. If you think someone will find a forwarded message hilarious, send a short email asking if it’s OK to forward something. Better to ask than to send it and have your friends start to block or delete all messages from you. 

DO double check the email address you are sending a message to. There is nothing worse than sending a personal message to the wrong person or, worse, to an email list of people. Check if there’s a “reply-to” address and don’t hit “send” until you’re sure you’re sending to the correct person/people. 

DON’T send attachments until you check that the receiver has the software to open the file. There’s no point sending a massive file, only to find the person you sent it to doesn’t have the right program to open it. 

DO remember that ANYTHING you send through email can be made public at any time. There are two parties involved in an email: the sender and the receiver, so keep in mind that you have to rely on the other person to remain trustworthy with the information you send. 

DON’T send HTML-based emails if you can help it. It can be unreadable on certain computers and can be corrupted more easily than text-based emails. If you want the receiver to see an HTML-formatted page, send them a URL instead. 

DO create named email address lists for groups you communicate with regularly. This means you are protecting email addresses from viruses that scan inbox email addresses. It also keeps email addresses private from other people on the list. If you don’t want or need email address lists, consider using Bcc: (blind copy) instead of To: or CC: to keep email addresses protected. 

DON’T save passwords on public computers. If you save it once, the site will remember your password for the next person. For all public computers, make sure to unclick the box that asks to save your password. 

DO double check your grammar and spelling. For work or school, especially, misspelled words or common grammatical mistakes can lessen the impact of the information you’re trying to share. Do a spell check or re-read your message before sending to save yourself a facepalm moment after you hit send. 

Last updated April 4, 2017