Etiquette on the internet is sometimes referred to as “netiquette.” Most of the guidelines involved are common sense, but warrant some highlights here that we’ll call Netiquette 101.
- Do unto others is a good rule of thumb. Whether you are in a social media setting, commenting on a blog post, or emailing to your contact list; ask yourself if the contribution you’re making will be appreciated in content and tone. And remember, tone is something that can be very tricky to communicate on a static screen, so err on the side of caution.
- Use “all caps” sparingly. You may not realized this, but leaving your caps lock on is the internet equivalent to shouting. Using all caps for acronyms or emphasis is acceptable, but posting an entire comment in all caps may be a stronger statement than you had intended.
- Remember a post can last forever. You’ll want to carefully consider the lasting impact of your post before you hit “submit.” What seems like a good idea in the moment could be tomorrow’s regret. This applies to pictures, comments, status updates, email communication, and on and on. While you might be able to remove a post as an afterthought–it lives electronically somewhere else forever. It’s getting more and more complicated to understand intellectual property rights, so remembering the old adage of “better safe than sorry” applies here in spades.
Basically, remember your Kindergarten playground rules when online; be kind, play nice, and share. The online community is a generally helpful and respectful place and doing your part to contribute to that will only help. Keeping in mind that there’s another person behind that inanimate screen will help you to find your voice and remember your Netiquette 101.