The most important rule of Netiquette is think before you post or send!
Avoid Offending Classmates
Ask yourself whether you would make the same comment to the person’s face.
Keep Your Voice Down
USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS online is the equivalent of yelling. Instead, use HTML to bold or italicize text in your postings, or use *asterisks* around the text to be emphasized.
Avoid Sarcasm & Subtleties
Hearing spoken words, seeing people's faces and bodies while they talk, and reading dialogue on your computer screen can convey substantially different impressions. Keeping this in mind may help you realize that it's sometimes easier to sound insensitive and other people’s feelings or have them miss the point when you're communicating through text only. To counter this, be clear, straightforward, and courteous with your language.
Assume any comment you read that sounds abrasive wasn't proofread for tone, and wasn't meant to offend. If you're upset, you might wait a little before posting a too-hasty reply that you'll regret later. Unless the author specifically says he’s angry, assume otherwise and ask for clarification of his intent.
Make It Personal
At the end of each posting, sign your name. It also adds a personal feel when responding to an individual if you address him or her by name.
It's good to express your opinions in discussions, but don't make disagreements personal. Agree to disagree in your exchanges of information and opinions. Keep your interactions with others friendly, especially when you're getting to know each other.
Be Aware of Culture
Be aware of cultural differences. If you suspect classmates might be from other cultures, avoid unexplained references that may not be understood or cause feelings of exclusion.
Use Emoticons Sparingly
These little icons can be quite effective in supplying primitive facial expressions to supplement your words. However, again be aware of cultural difference. It might be preferential to use other more direct ways of being sure your intentions are known: for example, by adding phrasing like "just kidding," "no offense intended," or "this is my opinion."
Change the Subject Line
Always enter a new subject for each of your postings, even if you are making an additional comment on the same subject as those above yours. Leaving the default subject tells readers nothing about your particular topic. Unique subjects allow classmates to understand the flow of conversations and relocate particular postings without having to open every one.
Not Too Little, Not Too Much
One word or single phrase responses can seem curt and rude. Use complete sentences and clearly communicate your meaning. Conversely, postings of multiple screens of text can be overwhelming to read online. Compose offline, edit your musings, and consider making bullet points to aid classmates in getting to your point.
What’s It’s About
When replying to a posting, quote the part of the original posting to which you are replying to help classmates understand the context.
Spell It Out
With spellcheckers now available as add-ins for most popular Web browsers, there's no excuse for inadvertent typos. Also remember that trendy abbreviated spellings are best left outside of online classrooms.
One Final Look
After you compose a posting, take a moment to reread your text before submitting. If it's possible, reading out loud can be especially helpful. One final once-over can identify typos, misstatements, lack of clarity, or an unintended tone.
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