In our everyday lives, there are social norms that most people adhere to.  For example, you wouldn’t yell at someone in a public place and say hurtful things, just as you shouldn’t on a public forum.

Netiquette is short for ‘internet etiquette’ and gives us all a basic rule of thumb for which behaviour is, and isn’t deemed acceptable.  It has developed over time and is organic in its very nature.  It changes as the world wide web expands to cover new forms of social media.

In my many years online, I’ve seen a real shift in the way people behave online.  In the early days on forums, it seemed that people acted (mostly) in a similar way online as they did offline. There were few (if any) moderators, as it simply wasn’t necessary.  Now there are trolls, fabricated  usernames and logins, fake email addresses galore…people hide behind a false persona and think it’s perfectly acceptable to wreak havoc on the world wide web.

It’s not ok.

Here are some basic netiquette standards that should be commonplace:

  1. Only say what you would say if you were standing face to face with the group of people you’re ‘chatting’ with.  It’s not ok to hide behind a computer screen.  In fact it’s downright cowardly.
  2. If you are going to take something off someone’s Facebook wall, twitter or blog, attribute it to them by ‘sharing’, quoting or retweeting rather than retyping it as your own original idea.  The chances are, if you ‘like’ their page, they’ll have ‘liked’ yours.  They’ll see what you’ve done.
  3. It seems there are less than six degrees of separation in the social media world, so if you’re going to say something nasty about someone on Facebook or Twitter, chances are one of their friends will see it and report back.
  4. Make sure you provide a source for images you use.  All the time.  You wouldn’t steal a painting off someone’s office wall, don’t do it online.
  5. Don’t type in caps.  It may make your post stand out, but it is poor netiquette as it denotes yelling.
  6. If someone takes the time to comment/post/email about your online business, take the time to reply.  Basic manners.
  7. Don’t forget that the internet is forever!  Whatever you put on here today, will be here for your children’s children to see.  Even if you delete it.
  8. One of the basic rules of netiquette is to respect other people’s privacy, however I think that’s a bit naive.  I prefer to work with a preventative rather than reactive strategy in this case and say: don’t put anything on the net you don’t want to go viral.
  9. Avoid sarcasm – not everybody ‘gets’ it.  This is a hard one for me as I’m incredibly sarcastic offline, but there is no tone or inflection in a typed word.  A lot can be lost in translation.
  10. Be authentic.  Chances are you will meet some of these online connections offline one day.  Imagine everyone’s surprise when it turns out you’re completely different to your online persona!


So, there’s my two cents worth in relation to netiquette and online behaviour, do you have any you’d like to add?


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