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Netiquette - Email, Chat, and the Discussion Boards

It is hard for someone reading your communication to know your tone of voice and impossible for someone to read your body language or your facial expressions. These are all very important when we speak to someone. Netiquette is the way you express yourself when you are writing e-mails, in a chat with classmates, or posting on a discussion board. Here you will find tips on how to express yourself.

  • Acknowledge what someone else has said before posing a different viewpoint. If you disagree with someone, it is a good idea to start a message by briefly re-stating in your own words, what the other person said. This lets the other person know that you are trying to understand them.
  • When presenting a controversial point of view, identify whose view it is. For example, “in my experience….” Or “according to the author…”.
  • If you feel the need to send an angry message, take a break. If you write out the message, don’t send it immediately. Save it and look at it later. You may want to tone it down after you have re-read it.
  • It is a good idea to check your spelling if you are posting to a discussion board before posting. It will be the first impression you make on someone.
  • Remember that whatever you post to a newsgroup or bulletin board is public and may be copied and sent to others.
  • Remember to always title your messages. This is especially true for newsgroups and bulletin boards so that others can delete it without reading it if they wish.
  • Sometimes emoticons are used to convey emotion:

Smile   :) or :-)        Indifferent    :-I
Wink   ;-)                 Disappointed   :-e
Frown   :(               Mad    :-<
Surprised   :-o        Laughing   :-D
Screaming   :-@    
A few abbreviations that are commonly used are:
BTW (by the way)
IMHO (in my humble opinion) This is a good non-offensive way of expressing ones own opinion.
lol (laugh out loud)
rofl (roll on the floor laughing)
brb (be right back)
cya (see you later)

  • When you post or e-mail someone with a question, make it as easy as possible for them to help you.  Make your questions as clear and specific as possible, and provide as much information as possible.
  • Keep your communications to the point.  Some people pay for Internet access by the hour.  The longer it takes to read your messages, the more it may cost them.

Be careful not to post unrelated comments or advertisements to your groups. This practice is known as spamming and will quickly lead to another unpleasant Internet practice, flaming. Sometimes you might offend someone unintentionally. Be prepared to receive some angry e-mail or be treated rudely by others in the group. This is called being flamed. If you attack back, you will spark a flame war. The best response usually is no response at all. You must be careful not to read into a message something that is not there and not to make judgments about where someone is coming from. 

Tips for Participating on a Discussion Board

  • Think ideas through before responding. You do not want to respond to be considered flaming. It often helps to outline responses before responding. Be polite and respectful.
  • It is often a good idea to write your response in Word (or other word processor) so that you can easily edit your response. Then copy-n-paste your response to the message board.
  • Use good communication skills. Keep your comments concise, but do meet the requirements posted for discussion by the instructor. Avoid brief affirmations such as “Amen”, “Ditto”, and “I agree”. Don’t quote or copy long passages form a previous post. Quote only the relevant portions to make your response clear.
  • Pay careful attention to instructions. Be sensitive with your use of language.
  • Use subject lines in your post to keep the flow going for a certain discussion item. Be sure to change the subject line if you are changing the direction of the discussion.
  • Try to stay on track and respond directly to comments being made.

Log on to your course discussion board every single day or a minimum of 5 days a week.