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Pass the Netiquette, Please

The rules of Netiquette are based on courtesy, common sense, and a basic knoweldge of computers, as well as human nature.

  • Reread your post both for content and style before you send it. No one likes to read sloppy thinking or writing. And when they see sloppy thinking and writing they often hit the delete key.
  • Edit judiciously when you are quoting someone else. If you are following up or responding to another's message, delete all but the lines you are discussing, but do keep the attributions so people know whom you are following. Many people are reading their e-mail on slow modems and perhaps paying toll charges; time is money.
  • Use a good subject line. Watch out for "thread drift" which means the subject line no longer matches the content of the message.
  • Respect confidentiality. People will write things privately or even on a list that they may not want broadcast to a larger group. Always get permission before reposting someone else's message. By the same token, if you are sending a message to a group of people, use the blind carbon copy feature for your distribution list so your recipients won't see each other's e-mail address. This also saves space when the receiver opens the message. If there are 6 - 10 pages of header and sent-to's, folks will simply delete the message. This is common in spam chain letters, which BTW, are a no-no.
  • No shouting please. Capital letters are considered SHOUTING which is very rude. If you wish to emphasize something use *the asterisk* to highlight the important word or phrase.
  • Flame with caution. A virulent, personal attack on someone in a forum, newsgroup or list is called Flaming and you should do so at your own peril. Some groups ban it altogether; on others you may be attacked for being a blue meanie. On the other hand, sometimes it is warranted, but be prepared for the consequences.
  • Understand the difference between private e-mail and a group posting. There is nothing more embarassing than sending to an entire group a message meant as private correspondence. Double check your address line before sending. And then look again!
  • Lurk before you post. The Internet is one of the few places where lurking and loitering is permissible and encouraged. Stop, look and listen before you open your big mouth. On any list, forum or newsgroup, it's a good idea to read for a while before posting; each place has it's own ethos and it's own lead posters.
  • Be aware of different computer formats. ASCII is the universal computer language so if you are sending a file, that's the only format you should use. Also, make sure your e-mail has hard carriage returns (most mailers handle this automatically).
  • Finally, be aware that anything you write is beyond your control once you hit the send key. It could end up in someone's web page where it can be accessed by the world or forwarded to another list. While it's common courtesy to get permission to repost, it doesn't always happen.