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Why Netiquette is crucial - how we can observe good internet manners

Updated on July 13, 2012

Netiquette - or manners long forgotten! Having created numerous Facebook groups for teenage students, I am increasingly alarmed at how manners are being neglected in Cyberspace - students hack lnto the Facebook accounts of others, mine included, read posts and comment on them liberally. When I say liberally, take that word literally - some of the words and phrases used are far less than appropriate. Implementing disciplinary measures was an unenviable task.

Bad social graces in cyberspace seem more allowable because communication with other parties is far more distant - we hardly meet them in person. The threat of proximity is removed - giving the seeming license to speak as freely as desired. The tendency to forget that the other person at the other end of Cyberspace is real and with feelings is extremely high. Yet, they ARE real - and we should therefore do unto them what we want done unto ourselves.


How to follow proper netiquette rules

How should we practice good netiquette?

Netiquette is a fairly new concept - one developed since point-to-point communication between computers started taking place when they were developed in the 1950’s and 60’s.

In the 1980’s and 90’s, the Cyberspace took the world by storm - the first ISP providers began to make their presence felt. Long range communication soon became so much easier - and knowing that, we should be mindful that the person on the other end of the Cyberline should be treated with due decorum. So how do we show that respect?

Be cyber aware.

This can be difficult to practice, especially if one is new to a particular site or domain. Take the time to observe and ask about the rules governing that site or domain - be aware that the little things you do may not be acceptable behaviors where that site is concerned. It may be perfectly alright to post many Twitter Feeds, for example, but it would be considered bad taste to do so on Tumblr or Reddit. Doing so may cause you to be Knighted, dubiously with Spammerhood. Good net manners becomes the order of the day.

Be aware too, of the posts you are writing. It takes time and patience with yourself and others, but try as best as possible to remember that what is written online is permanently recorded. People have varied interpretations of any remarks that are being made online and we never know when any of them can cause animosity.

Respect Net Privacy.

Respecting Net Privacy can apply to anything online as well as off it. Online, it is really atrocious net manners to break into another person’s Facebook or other accounts and start reading or making remarks on their posts. I have had students who have done so on many occasions to their friends and on one unfortunate occasion, to myself and it was annoying to say the least.

Off line, do respect boundaries - it is an unwritten rule but do respect your family member’s or colleagues’ email privacy. It is in really bad taste to read another person’s mail as well - I did on one or two unfortunate occasions catch a colleague peeking surreptitiously at my computer, quickly hiding away on realizing that he had been discovered. It is not only bad manners, legal issues with encroaching on privacy and harassment can result.

Remember that the person on the other end of Cyberspace is human.

The wonders of modern technology have made it possible for all of us to interact globally, almost 24 hours a day. The feeling can be understandably surreal, since we do not have the pleasure of meeting offline. The lack of presence can make interaction seem too easy going and give rise to the feeling that the words being posted do not really matter.

I cite an example of how a young man in Singapore, a university undergraduate in his twenties, was recently given a rather hefty fine for making racial slurs - unbelievably, his excuse was that he did not think the other person would take note of the post or be offended. The fact is, we can offend online - so we need to be wary when being too free with our opinions.

Observe the same social graces you would when you meet people in person.

All of us have been brought up by our loving parents to observe social graces when meeting relatives and friends - so there is no reason to neglect them online. Greet the people whom you meet online with respect and decorum - there is no need to exaggerate with a Good Day Mr or Mrs So and So, but do wish them a good morning when you see them or thank them when there is a need. Remember that the person over at the other end has feelings - he wishes to have the same amount of respect you would.

Do not abuse your power.

Being in certain positions online can put you in a greater position of authority - as the creator of social media groups or site administrators, for example. Site administrators have the authority to delete posts. If they have added programming or networking skills, they can use them to block or create malware that affects another less knowledgeable fellow site member.

The abuse of such advantages speaks of a lack of integrity - and amounts to cyber bullying!

Respect another person’s cyberspace.

Do respect another person’s cyberspace - do not invade it. It includes keeping people who do not need to be included off mailing lists. I share a small incident which involved a couple of my colleagues were involved in organizing a workshop - and he included, as a measure of convenience, the emails of all members of a group. As a result, all our emails were flooded for days with “Please Do Not Include Me In This Mailing List.” My colleague, needless to say, received several sharp scoldings. Do not include indiscriminately - the other person may not appreciate his email box being constantly flooded.

Remember, too, that we are not the centers of cyberspace - in this day and age, we expect our responses to emails and posts to be almost instantaneous. In actual fact - responding to posts and emails takes a much needed but not readily available ingredient - time!


What is netiquette and why is it important?

Prevent flaming - be an arbitrator!

Flaming refers to deliberately making another person appear horrible or the subject of scandal online. Usually, this happens in groups, with many getting together to give a single party a difficult time. Mob mentality is something that is to be feared. Teaching youth has revealed to me that it can really frighten you when people get together in a group to exert pressure on another person. The effects can be damaging - and even more pronounced if the flaming is prevalent online.

It has caused suicide - teens flaming teens has terrible social repercussions. One just has just to google to find stories of countless victims. A student of mine was once the subject of teasing online when she foolishly declared that she had developed a crush on a boy - soon, the whole class and Facebook Group knew about it and the poor student was soon Missing In Action from school. She had even attempted jumping off the school’s roof and was lucky to have been discovered in time.

Be an arbitrator of flaming - I have had to be in this position many times. Check remarks and encourage people to be reasonable with them - from experience, they do not stop immediately but do quiet down at a quicker rate.

Check your appearance!

For writers like ourselves, this can be vital. Look good online - and no, this does not refer to a gorgeous avatar. What I refer to are grammatical mistakes and spelling errors - too many of them can indeed spoil the internet broth.

It is giving proper respect to the other person online reading your work when you make the effort to eradicate spelling and grammar errors - it gives a better impression and gives a person more credibility when he is posting.

Pause before you post.

It is difficult, in the rush of time, to really think about the things that we are posting and writing. It is even more difficult to for see the ramifications our words can have on the feelings of others - our comments are open to all kinds of interpretations.

I try - though I am definitely not perfect at it - to practice the rule of spending a minute to think before I comment on anything - and if I do not have anything nice to post, I would rather not at all.

Follow those who follow you…but use discretion.

It is the polite thing to do to click the follow button on someone who has added us to their Pinterest Lists or Facebook Friends.In fact, from the point of view of Netiquette, it is only right to do so. But do be careful - adding that other person may result in you being cyber stalked or bullied.

I have a friend who is beautiful to say the least and is somewhat of a social butterfly - the number of friends she has online makes my friend’s list look minuscule. She encountered, eventually, a young man online who would not leave her alone - and she was forced to abandon the social media site she was using.

Since then, though, she has been happily making friends with a little more discretion - and very good ones!

Not all places observe the same netiquette!

What is perfectly acceptable in one domain may not be so in another. When you first join a domain or social media site, hang around and watch what others are doing - If you notice a trend in the type of posts being made, do post things only of the same veneer. For example, it may be acceptable to post silly messages on one site on Facebook - it can be social to do so - but it may not be acceptable in other domains.

Every site and page may have its rules, written or unwritten. Do ask whenever in doubt!

Share and share alike!

The advent of the internet has made it possible for all of us to share knowledge almost all the time. It is only polite to share your knowledge and skills with the next person, who should share his in return. Everybody has a set of skills - exchange yours, do not guard them too selfishly and everyone is the richer for it.

The problem comes when everyone sees themselves as the centre of Cyberspace - they keep a lot to themselves. Encourage the spirit of sharing - it is only polite over the internet.

Forgive others for their mistakes.

Be forgiving - especially if you are a site administrator managing newbies who are not sure of the rules when they first join your site. Be patient when teaching them these rules - they may flout them unknowingly, so let them in on the rules gently.

A member may not realize that it is not right on your site to post anything other than site related material - so it is good to share this fact with him. Monitor his behavior - if he still persists in flouting the rules, it is a sign of his tardiness and he should then be removed from the group.

The importance of Netiquette can never be undermined - we need it for survival in the Cyber World. I do notice that the word Netiquette is not treated as a spelling error on Microsoft Word as I write this article - it is really telling!


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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That's sad, and happens most often because of the feeling of protection as they are not being seen. Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      The protection of the computer does give us reason to be a little impulsive, Cristina!!Thanks for sharing!

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 4 years ago from United States

      Great hub with great suggestions! I stopped following our local news channel on Facebook because of the comments in the stories. Mostly everyone that comments is right (so they believe) and attacks others because they have a different viewpoint.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Very well said with all valid points Michelle. In particular, I like this: "Pause before you post"--we, as human beings tend to be vulnerable and we sometimes tend to forget the repercussions of hitting that "send or post" button.

      Guess, education is the key. Read, be informed and when in doubt, ask. Voting up and sharing to spread some knowledge on one important subject: Netiquette.

      Thanks.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      True Richard, they tend to think that what is said here stays here! And now employers must think of how people behave over social media....that's the real person, in essence! Thanks for sharing!

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Michelle - had not seen this one from you. So very true in all areas. Too many tend to think what they say stays only here. Yet, it can be seen from anywhere. Many employers are now asking for your Facebook and other info so they can see what they're getting long before hiring. It could be the true killer for a position wanted if not careful. Great Job!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      That's true. What can be posted somewhere may not be allowable somewhere else!! Thanks for coming by, and blessings and success on your business as well!!

    • wheelinallover profile image

      Dennis Thorgesen 5 years ago from Central United States

      As a business we find that netiquette is an important aspect of our business. What is acceptable on one social site is not on another. Businesses really need to pay attention to this as each social network is necessary for business.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      True, Alecia! We've to be aware of how our behavior online affects the others online as well...we should not take it for granted just because we cannot see them. Thanks for coming by!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Well-written and well-explained. It's hard for people to remember that the web is the medium and people on the other side of that are human. Cyber-bullying and stalking are very real things and it's crucial we be careful of how are online actions affect others. Great hub!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks,Jennize, for coming by! glad this has been useful, and that those who do not practice good Internet manners just to be cool will learn. thanks again!

    • jennzie profile image

      jennzie 5 years ago from Lower Bucks County, PA

      This is a very well-written hub on an important topic. I love the picture as well!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for coming by, Daisy, I hope this gets to those who fail to practice these...they don't know how important it is and how it affects others!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 5 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Michelle,

      Thanks for publishing this very important article. It's something which everyone should read.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, ME Whelan!! Glad you've enjoyed it!! Appreciate the visit very much indeed!

    • M E Whelan profile image

      M E Whelan 5 years ago

      I don't have anything to add here, other than that I found this Hub to be nicely done and well written. So, I figured that was worth mentioning.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Nat!! Glad you've liked this article!! Got to admit, the person who took that did a brilliant job!! Thanks for coming by!

    • Nat Amaral profile image

      Nat Amaral 5 years ago from BC Canada

      Thank you very much for writing this article. Very informative. I love that pic of that cute kitty in front of the computer. That's adorable.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      You are so right, Vicki. The thing is, people don't want to read about things they know they need to do. Wrote this with my class in mind actually, when they started hacking accounts. Hope it gets through to them! Thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Julie, glad you've enjoyed it!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Ish, thanks for this insightful comment. Now that you've mentioned it, it might be a good idea to protect our FB accounts privacy settings and change your password frequently (just make sure we don't forget it though). Thanks for coming by!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary!! Everyone should be aware of Netiquette...and too few, especially the young teens who like to spam, are. Thanks for coming by, and I'm about to run by your hubs now!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Linda, thanks for the vote and the tweet, and the googles too! Means so much!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      No problem, Keith. I think it's especially the young ones, mostly those in their teens who need to see this, actually. I wrote this with my students in mind - they really abuse the net. Thanks for coming by, my friend, and the share!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Rachel, thanks for coming by!! Yup, we should practice it, a pity that there are some folks out there who forget the practice!! Thanks for coming by!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      OH, the world of netiquette. I'm glad you explained all this. This will be helpful to so many people--if they will read it. You make some great points. Many votes, including up!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

      Great article! Really liked how you laid this one out.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      An extremely engaging & informative hub! This is the first time I have heard about the term netiquette thanks to you! I am quite aware of cyber etiquette but unaware of those who are violating the rules like you mentioned that some people hacked others' accounts and all. I would like to mention that HubPages is a good example in which it conducted the partiular set of strict rules for members to follow as well as netiquette to practise to a great extent. A fetching hub! Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & Socially Shared

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      You are so right! Everyone should be more aware of Netiquette. Great Hub. I voted it UP, etc.etc.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Well done Michelle! We could all use a lesson in Netiquette! Voted and tweeted! :)

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      Michelle, you have given exactly what we need to stay on top of in cyberspace. I have seen so many facebook like pages with crude comments and messages that it makes me sick (even people my age!) I definitely shared this on twitter and sharing it with my followers and on facebook. This is an important read; thanks so much for sharing this!

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, now farming in Minnesota

      This is a great article, well said and you speak the truth. Voted up and shared :)

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      I'm so glad we are on the same page,Ignugent!! If more people would respect the privacy of others, it would definitely be a better world. Thanks for coming by, and I appreciate and reciprocate the support!

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      This is very wonderful Michelle. If all users will follow your advice then it would be a better world. We really need this and I do hope this will be shared to everybody. Respecting the privacy of an individual is important . Voted up and more!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Dana! I hope that it does get through, especially to kids too, because they are less mature and really tend to let loose. Thanks for stopping by!

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Excellent hub! You have addressed a very current issue by pointing out some common problems and presenting very good advice. I like how you consistently remind the reader that, while it seems like cyberspace is strictly virtual, you are ineracting with real people and there are real consequences. I hope your message gets through to people.

      Voted up etc.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      True TT! Practicing is the hard part. What makes that more difficult is that the parties don't see each other, so it's easy to take things for granted. Thanks for stopping by!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Some very good advice, Michelle, now the hard part: getting people to practice these. :) VUMS.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for dropping by, Nell! Thankfully, Hubbers are really nice and respectful!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      This is great! you are so right, people should learn to use respect on the internet, and I have seen so many comments and remarks over various sites that make me totally cringe. good manners should always apply, voted up! cheers nell

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mandar! Am glad that you've found the suggestions useful!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Kathleen...glad that you've enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you, Bill, as always for the support! Yes, we need to handle things the right way with modern technology.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      New technology demands new social etiquette; great hub with fantastic suggestions.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Well said. This hub should be added to the learning center.

    • mandarmk9 profile image

      Mandar Karandikar 5 years ago from Ratlam, India

      A very well written and informative hub. I agree with Josh. (thanks for sharing josh) It was a very useful article.

      :) Mandar

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Josh. Do pass this along. Helps us in this day and age!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Michelle,

      Wow, this is one of the most informative hubs I have read up to date! You lay out some excellent background information and produce very strong points. I appreciate you taking the time to write on such a very important and relevant topic.

      I really enjoyed the section you wrote on "Remember that the person on the other end of Cyberspace is human" This is very true and many people need to understand this.

      Thanks for sharing this beneficial article with us Michelle, you have done well! :) Many votes and sharing!