With the evolution of online environments and the creation of virtual communities a need has arisen to create a set of “rules of the road” for peoples conduct within these spaces. These rules, or best practices, are critical as these communities may, more likely than not, cross several geographical and demographic boundaries.

Due to the diversity that these environments a new set of norms needs to be created in order to minimize unpleasant, unprofessional, inappropriate and uncomfortable situations. These norms create a level set of expectations that are universally understood. The common term for these practices is “netiquette”.

The University of Oregon posted a short piece on what they deem to be the best practices. While some of the items appear to be good common sense, such as; don’t publicly criticize other users.  While it is common sense not to do this within a  public area, like school or work, it is sometimes difficult to remember that online spaces contain all sort of people as users are often just staring at a screen with no face, or voice to remind us that there is a living, breathing individual there.

Other items included in the “netiquette” article were the following:

  • Learn the lingo. There are many common abbreviations and wording conventions that are commonly used link OMG, BRB, BTW and FYI. Learn what these, and others, mean.
  • Don’t SHOUT. Using all capitals conveys the message that the author is shouting.
  • Use clear and concise language. A lot of people are inundated with messages and information. Make the best use of their limited time to get your message across.
  • Provide a means for individuals to respond or contact you by including your email address, and lastly
  • Use descriptive titles and ensure to use humor, irony and sarcasm carefully.

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