1.3 Netiquette

Netiquette refers to etiquette, or protocols and norms for communication, on the Internet. We create personal pages, post messages, and interact via online technologies as a normal part of our careers, but how we conduct ourselves can leave a lasting image, literally. The photograph you posted on your Facebook page or Twitter feed may have been seen by your potential employer, or that nasty remark in a post may come back to haunt you later.

Following several guidelines for online postings, as detailed below, can help you avoid embarrassment later.

Know your context

Remember the human

  • Remember there is a person behind the words. Ask for clarification before making judgement.
  • Check your tone before you publish.
  • Respond to people using their names.
  • Remember that culture and even gender can play a part in how people communicate.
  • Remain authentic and expect the same of others.
  • Remember that people may not reply immediately. People participate in different ways, some just by reading the communication rather than jumping into it.
  • Avoid jokes and sarcasm; they often don’t translate well to the online environment.

Recognize that text is permanent

  • Be judicious. What you say online is difficult to retract later.
  • Consider your responsibility to the group and to the working environment.
  • Agree on ground rules for text communication (formal or informal; seek clarification whenever needed, etc) if you are working collaboratively.

Avoid flaming: research before you react

  • Accept and forgive mistakes.
  • Consider your responsibility to the group and to the working environment.
  • Seek clarification before reacting.
  • Ask your supervisor for guidance.*

Respect privacy and original ideas

  • Quote the original author if you are responding to a specific point made by someone else.
  • Ask the author of an email for permission before forwarding the communication.

* Sometimes, online behavior can appear so disrespectful and even hostile that it requires attention and follow up. In this case, let your supervisor know right away so that the right resources can be called upon to help.

Chapter Attribution Information

This chapter was derived by Annemarie Hamlin, Chris Rubio, and Michele DeSilva, Central Oregon Community College, from Communicating Online: Netiquette by UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology – CC: BY-SA 4.0


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Technical Writing Copyright © 2017 by Allison Gross, Annemarie Hamlin, Billy Merck, Chris Rubio, Jodi Naas, Megan Savage, and Michele DeSilva is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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