Netiquette Guide for EVO Workshops

Netiquette (Internet + etiquette) refers to the generally accepted “conventions of politeness” for mass mailing lists such as the YahooGroup platform we use for Electronic Village Online (Wikipedia).

Before starting the workshop, please read this short guide, then take the self-quiz at Gladys Baya’s page. Don’t worry, there are no grades on this test, but a good score indicates you are ready to participate in an online course.

Before you hit SEND, check these 10 golden rules:

(1) Read all unread messages in your inbox, to avoid sending superfluous messages.

(2) Think before you write. Is your message relevant and appropriate?

(3) Think after you write. Re-read your message. Is it clear, concise and (again) relevant? Off-topic comments (sometimes flagged OT in the subject line) may be acceptable in some online communities, but not in others.

(4) Write properly. Many people will not take you seriously if you write messages without capitalization or punctuation (i dont like that). Use abbreviations only if you are sure everyone will understand them (imho or btw, for example).

(5) Break your writing into paragraphs: screens of text are off-putting. “White space” separates your ideas, makes it easier to quote selectively (see #9 below) and encourages recipients to read your message in full.

(6) If you have nothing to say, say nothing. Unless your fellow users are very patient, emails that just say “me too”, “me neither”, “I agree” or (worse) “I don’t know anything about this subject, but …” are likely to irritate. Such messages might be better sent as a private email to the sender (do this by copying and pasting the private party’s address into your mailer).

(7) Give your message a clear subject title. If you read your messages as a daily digest, try to refer to the subject of the thread to which you are replying, rather than digest #4203, as appropriate.

(8) Do not quote lengthy messages or entire digests in your reply. It is more annoying than you probably realize for users who read their messages in a daily digest, and it increases the time and cost of downloads for others. Similarly, a two line “signature” should suffice — especially if you are frequent correspondent (you can always put your profile into the Yahoo Group site!).

(9) Write for the lowest common denominator. Assume your reader is using telnet across a 12k dial-up modem on a slow 386 or an Apple II. Don’t use html, don’t use fancy graphics and colors, and don’t assume that links are clickable. Remember that internet access is expensive in some parts of the world, and many people pay per minute. (OK, I wrote this in 2003, but the principle stands even if you’ve never heard of telnet.)

(10) Break one of these rules rather than go against your COMMON SENSE — the best guide to (n)etiquette ever discovered.

This guide was prepared by Nigel Caplan for EV Online 2003 (with edits and changes by Elizabeth Hanson-Smith), and may be freely distributed, providing this acknowledgment is included.