“One person’s clever joke is another person’s offensive insult.”(Jenny Preece, 2004)
What is Netiquette?
“‘Netiquette’ is network etiquette, the do’s and don’ts of online communication. Netiquette covers both common courtesy online and the informal ‘rules of the road’ of cyberspace.”(Shea, 1997, para 1)
Netiquette is a set of rules that encourages appropriate online behavior related to the social and cultural norms of a community (Preece, 2004). These rules can vary depending upon the environment/context (informal/formal), people (familiar/unfamiliar with each other), activity, and type of technology used (Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology, UBC, n.d.; Preece, 2004; Rinaldi, 1996). Noncompliance of netiquette rule use can be interpreted as a sign of disrespect (Kozik & Slivova, 2014).
Why do we Need Netiquette Rules?
The rules of etiquette that apply when communicating online are different from those that apply when communicating in person. It cannot be assumed that students automatically know how to communicate in an online environment. Netiquette rules have emerged to facilitate online interactions in the absence of visual and auditory cues, which can often be sources of misunderstandings, as readers can easily misinterpret messages (Marx, 2004). Knowledge of network etiquette discourages inappropriate online conduct and conflict (Mintu-Wimsatt, Kernek, & Lozada, 2010). Class interactions using netiquette encourage social interactions, community building, and trust between participants. It promotes a safe, engaging, respectful, and collaborative group where diversity of opinion is valued (Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology, UBC, n.d.; Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, 2014).
Why Should I Incorporate Netiquette Rules in my Online Course?
You are encouraged to include a section on netiquette in your online course syllabus to increase awareness of its importance. Netiquette can help students improve their soft skills, prevent miscommunications, help students better understand what is socially acceptable when working and collaborating online in different environments, and ensure that the teaching and learning process is not deterred (Hartsell, 2008; Kozik & Slivova, 2014; Shea, 1997). Netiquette rules can help promote professional standards of behavior in the online environment, as expected in the traditional classroom.
Fundamental Netiquette Rules
Rule 1: Remember the Human
- Remember to treat others the way they want to be treated.
- Introduce yourself and courteously respond to others; use their name.
- Use emoticons sparingly to help display tone when communicating in less formal environments.
- Try not to hurt others feelings or cause offense
- avoid use of All CAPS, as you will appear to be shouting.
- Consider other’s gender and cultural differences; avoid gender and cultural jokes and sarcasm.
Rule 2: Behave Ethically and Responsibly
- Think before hitting the send button — assume your message is permanent.
- Act within acceptable societal norms.
- Respect Internet laws:
- privacy issues
- intellectual property and copyright laws; credit other’s work
- Complete work on time.
Rule 3: Familiarize Yourself with the Technology and Environment
- Familiarize yourself with varying social and cultural norms.
- Recognize that some environments will expect a different level of formality than others.
- Recognize that different technologies may require different netiquette guidelines.
- Lurk before you leap. Familiarize yourself; then join in.
Rule 4: Respect Other’s Time and Bandwidth
- Make contributions concise, relevant, and insightful.
- Don’t dominate discussions.
- Recognize that others will have different concerns and .
- Don’t expect instant responses or for all to focus on your contributions.
- Restrict emails/postings to course related materials only.
Rule 5: Present Yourself Positively
- Become knowledgeable about your topic.
- Write in a clear, organized, logical, and accurate way.
- Run a quick spell check; it demonstrates professionalism.
- Be pleasant and polite; help others when possible.
- Respect other’s differing opinions and perspectives.
Rule 6: Share Your Knowledge and Expertise
- Contribute and share online.
- Be aware that sharing knowledge online is positive:
- it increases discussion and knowledge construction.
- it helps build trust and online community.
- Cite credible sources.
Rule 7: Keep Flame Wars under Control
- Recognize that Netiquette forbids “flame wars” that dominate the tone and destroy the camaraderie of a discussion.
- avoid using offensive and confrontational language; no bullying.
- Online exchanges should be constructive.
- Seek clarification prior, as content may have been misunderstood.
Rule 8: Be Forgiving of Other’s Mistakes
- Be forgiving – there will always be new online learners.
- Be gracious if someone makes a mistake.
- Be polite when informing someone of an etiquette error; use private email.
- Remember that we all make mistakes; have patience.
Make the level of formality explicit!
There are multiple tools and environments for communicating online. Different online environments may require different Netiquette rules. Although students may be quite accustomed to participating informally in social forums, the expectations and guidelines for an educational setting may be quite different. Therefore it is important for you to establish clear guidelines for the level of formality and writing style that you would like to see in your course.
If your intent is to encourage good writing skills, then it will be important for students to follow acceptable writing conventions with regards to spelling, grammar, and punctuation. For example, you may want students to use a particular writing style, such as APA or MLA and to support their ideas with appropriate referencing.
However, if your intent is to keep language very relaxed and conversational, then emoticons, abbreviations, slang etc. may be acceptable.
Discussion and Group forums can vary—they can be quite formal or very informal in nature, depending upon their intent and the topic being covered. Virtual spaces that encourage interaction or content creation such as blogs, wikis, lives sessions, or various social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) generally encourage a more informal environment.
Learning to communicate effectively is important in any learning environment. However, listening and respectfully responding to what others have to say is especially important in the online environment. Netiquette (Online Etiquette) is a set of rules that encourages appropriate and courteous online behavior. These rules are important as they promote communication skills, prevent miscommunications, and help you understand what is socially acceptable when working and collaborating online. Netiquette rules encourage social interactions, community building, and trust and help promote a safe, engaging, respectful, and collaborative environment where diversity of opinion is valued.
If you are not familiar with these Netiquette rules, please refer to these fundamental netiquette rules (adapted from Virginia Shea’s “Core Rules of Netiquette”.)
Course Expectations (Discussions – formal)
Participation in this course will comprise a significant portion of your grade. In this course we will be communicating on a weekly basis using online discussions. It is expected that discourse will be respectful of Netiquette Rules and model the highest standards of professional dialogue. This does not mean that you cannot present opposing viewpoints. In fact, you are encouraged to challenge each other’s ideas and promote stimulating discussions. However, unprofessional and inappropriate comments (unnecessary flaming and flame wars), as in the regular classroom, are to be avoided online. Your writing is expected to be formal using appropriate grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Please adhere to strict APA formatting and provide references to support your ideas. Slang, abbreviations, and emoticons are not appropriate.
Any posting that does not appear to adhere to professional standards will be removed. In such a case, it will be the responsibility of the student to provide a replacement posting to meet course requirements.
Course Expectations – Discussions (informal)
Participation in this course is important to help reinforce your course readings. We will be communicating on a weekly basis using online discussions. It is expected that discourse will be respectful of Netiquette Rules. This does not mean that you cannot present opposing viewpoints. In fact, you are encouraged to challenge each other’s ideas and promote stimulating discussions. However, unprofessional and inappropriate comments (unnecessary flaming and flame wars), as in the regular classroom, are to be avoided online. Conversations are expected to be brief and conversational. Please note that THE USE OF ALL CAPS CAN MAKE IT LOOK LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING online and should be avoided. The judicious use of emoticons is encouraged to help display tone or emotion that is difficult to discern online.
Please be polite and try to make all communications clear. Thanks! :-)
Course Expectations – Twitter communications (informal)
Participation in this course involves setting up a Twitter Account and Tweeting to your classmates each week about assigned issues using the Twitter widget, located on your Course Home page. It is expected that each Tweet will be respectful of Netiquette Rules. Remember, Twitter restricts your message to a maximum of 280 characters (including the hashtag), so these Tweets are expected to be fairly short, focused and concise! All Tweets are expected to be quite informal. Abbreviation and emoticon use is encouraged.
Please be polite and try to make all communications clear. Thanks! :-) TTFN
Emoticons and Abbreviations
Common emoticons and abbreviations seen online include:
|= smiley, laugh, have a nice day|
|= frowning, sad|
|= winking or sly joke|
|= laughing or big grin|
|= yelling or screaming, surprised, or completely shocked|
|= confused but happy|
|= whatever, sarcasm|
|= disappointed, ashamed, upset|
|FYI||= for your information|
|ASAP||= as soon as possible|
|BTW||= by the way|
|LOL||= laugh out loud|
|WTG||= way to go|
|TTUL||= talk to you later|
|BFN||= bye for now|
|BRB||= be right back|
|CUL||= see you later|
|IDK||= I don’t know|
|JK, JJ||= just kidding, just joking|
|TYVM||= thank you very much|
- Beal, V. (2004). Text messaging and online Chat abbreviations.
- Johns, K, (1996). Electronic mail emoticons (smilies) & shorthand (abbreviations). Retrieved from http://www.kassj.com/netiquette/smilies.html
- Kaplan, M. (2014). Emoticons and abbreviations (smileys). Retrieved from http://www.anapsid.org/internet/smileys.html#celeb
- Shea, V. (1997). Emoticons. Retrieved from
- Beckingham, S. (2014, Dec. 4). Emoticons and emojis: a brief introduction to the history and current use in social media dialogue. Retrieved from https://socialmediaforlearning.com/2014/12/04/emoticons-and-emojis-a-brief-introduction-to-the-history-and-current-use-in-social-media-dialogue/