Saturday, February 2, 2008

From Etiquette to Netiquette

At first glance, the guidelines in netiquette seem exceedingly long and full of rules and regulations of acceptable standards for Internet usage. However, when compared to the Emily Post’s book on etiquette published in the early 1900s entitled Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage, netiquette does not seem so long and tedious. Post’s book is close to 900 pages and continuously revised to meet the changing culture of society. More than likely, the Internet’s netiquette will change as its use expands.

Several sources provide insight to netiquette. Delaware Technical and Community College provides a website to inform their students about Netiquette. The site provides information such as how to conduct an online conversation. The reader does not have the benefit of observing the sender’s body language and relies entirely on the words in the message. Sometimes perfectly innocent messages may be misconstrued resulting in misunderstanding between the reader and the sender.

Another area to be careful with is the use of smiley faces and symbols to convey emotion. Like most things in life… moderation. A symbol will not necessarily change the emotion that the reader. A few commons smiley’s include: :- ) happy, :- ( sad, :-o surprised and
;-) winking. For more examples, visit the Unofficial Smiley Dictionary at

Generally, e-mails and postings should be short and concise. However, when a message is long, a warning to the reader should be included in the subject line. As a result, the reader has the option to read the message in its entirety at their leisure. A message is long when it is more than 100 lines.

Another important rule of Netiquette is warning the reader(s) that the message may “spoil” the ending of a book or movie. The sender should indicate “spoiler” in the subject line and further precaution by adding several blank lines at the beginning of the message.
For more information check out

In an article written by Brian Sullivan for Computerworld, he identifies several important Netiquette rules. For example, in an office environment where e-mails are a common way of communication, do not ask what an individual thought of the lengthy e-mail sent five minutes prior. Give the reader a chance to read, reflect and respond…via e-mail (Sullivan 2002).

Just as Emily Post’s book on etiquette is long, so is Netiquette. Unfortunately, it seems that many Internet users have no idea there is such a thing as Internet etiquette. Taking classes such as Mastering Cyberspace at Arizona State University is one way for Internet users to learn about Netiquette.

Master the Basics: Netiquette.
Post, E. (1922). New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
Sullivan, B/ (2002, March). Netiquette. Computerworld. 36(10) p. 48. Retrieved February 2, 2008, from Academic Search Premier.
Unofficial Smiley Dictionary.
Weinman, B. Why I Keep The Boulder Pledge. Retrived February 2, 2008 from the Bill Weinman webpage.

1 comment:

Cole said...

The reason Netiquette rules are so much shorter than Emily Post's is that we've hardly touched the surface of behavior: cell phones, text messaging, all the new Web 2 apps.
People don't seem to know how to behave and no one seems ready to tell them.
We need more rules!