Q: What is Netiquette?
A: In any social interaction, certain rules of etiquette can lead
to more enjoyable and productive communication. The Internet is
no different --in fact, there's even a special word for it: "Netiquette!"
The following tips for posting messages and responses to Newsgroups
are adapted from guidelines originally compiled by 'Net citizens
Chuq Von Rospach and Gene Spafford. They are good rules of thumb
for any online communication, but are particularly appropriate
on the Internet (so many people, and so much volume).
1. Never forget that the person on the other side is a human being.
Even though you are using a computer to communicate don't forget
that other people are on the receiving end. Millions of people
all over the world are reading your words. Avoid personal attacks.
Don't speak (type) hastily -- try not to say anything to others
that you would not say to them in a room full of people. Remember
that you are playing an important role in building an online community
-- and we all want this community to be a good, friendly place.
2. Be brief. With millions of people participating, you'll find
that Newsgroups generate LOTS and LOTS of words. Other participants
will appreciate your ability to stay on topic. If you say what
you want to say succinctly, it will have greater impact. Likewise,
don't post the same message on more than one Newsgroup unless you
are sure it is appropriate.
3. Your messages reflect on YOU -- be proud of them. Although
you will meet thousands of people through the Internet, chances
are you won't meet many of them in person. Most people will only
know you by what you say, and how well you say it. Take time to
make sure that you are proud of the messages you send. Take time
to make sure your messages are easy to read and understand.
4. Use descriptive Subject headings in your messages. The subject
line of your message is there to help people decide whether or
not they want to read it. Use the subject line to tell people what
your message is about. For example, if you are sending a message
to an Automobiles Newsgroup, a subject like "66 MG Midget
for Sale: Oregon"is much more informative than "Car for
5. Think about your audience. Stay on topic. Post your messages
in the appropriate Newsgroup. By reading a number of the messages
before sending one yourself, you will be able to get a sense of
the ongoing conventions and themes of the Newsgroup.
6. Be careful with humor and sarcasm. Without the voice inflections
and body language of personal communications,it is easy for a remark
meant to be funny to be misinterpreted. You can convey the emotions
that words alone cannot express by using such online conventions
as "smileys." :-)
7. Summarize what you are following up. When you are making a
follow-up comment to someone else's message, be sure to summarize
the parts of the message to which you are responding. Summarization
is best done by including appropriate quotes from the original
message. Don't include the entire message, since this could be
irritating to people who have already read it.
8. Give back to the Community If you send a message to a Newsgroup
requesting information, and you get lots of responses via electronic
mail, it's a nice courtesy to prepare an edited message compiling
your responses to the Newsgroup where you originally posted your
question. Take the time to strip headers, combine duplicate information,
and write a short summary. Credit the information to the people
who sent it to you. Likewise, be a "giver" as well as
a "taker" in this online community. If you have good
and valuable information to share, please do so in the appropriate
9. Try not to repeat what has already been said. Read responses
to messages before you chime in, so that you are not needlessly
repetitive. And make sure your responses have substance --answers
like "Yup" and "I agree" probably won't be
10. Cite appropriate references. If you are using facts to support
a cause, state where they came from.
(Again, thanks to Chuq Von Rospach and Gene Spafford for originally
outlining these useful points.)