Netiquette is the term coined by combining the word ‘Internet’ and ‘Etiquette’ into a single word. It began at a Xerox facility called PARC (Palo Alto Research Centre) in 1970’s. PARC developed their first email etiquette in addressing their employee code of conduct while using the new email system known as Electronic Briefing Blurb. According to the Oxford Reference, the word netiquette is a contraction of network etiquette which is defined as the guidelines that constitute good behaviour on a network, especially the Internet, and that, like all forms of etiquette, tend to be determined by a self-appointed group. It is a set of professional and social etiquettes that are practised and advocated in electronic communication. Although not legally binding rules, the rules of netiquette are depending on the platform and its participants. The administrator of a website or communication app responsible to monitor the compliance can penalise those that are in violation of the said rules.
Netiquette: Rule of Thumb
It is fundamental to highlight that while communicating on the internet, you are communicating with another person although by means of computers or smartphones. Therefore, the rules of etiquette in the real world are still applicable in the electronic communication although you are not seeing them in front of you!
Apply your standard rule of conduct in real life over any online platform.
The Golden Rule states ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you’. So, be it social media, email, instant message or a discussion post, one must remember to conduct one’s self with a high degree of decorum in ‘cyberspace’.
Know where you are
Virginia Shea claimed in her book of Netiquette (1994), that netiquette varies from domain to domain. Depending on your platform in the cyberspace, netiquette is interpreted differently in different places on the internet. For example, what you text to a friend may not be appropriate toward your colleague or a superior in a professional environment. What you adhere to on social media is different compared with email netiquette or what you can do on a discussion board. Gossiping on a television / movie discussion group is acceptable but may deffer for a community discussion group. It is important to know your audience.
Be your best online
Online communication imposes a certain anonymity and judgement on your physicality compared to you communicating face to face. It’s regarded as an inhibition threshold for users to behave rudely when things go wrong and subsequently be judged by the quality of ones writing. Therefore, present your best side online by being pleasant and polite, know your area, and always check your spelling & grammar!
Respect the privacy of others In a virtual world, be it on Facebook, or a discussion forum, always remember not to divulge certain private or personal information. Some information may mean nothing to you but can be valuable to others and may sometime make you vulnerable. When sharing information, always imagine how it can affect someone else. Would it be hurtful? What would the outcome be? When uploading photos or videos online that include other people, remember to be considerate of their feelings. Some people are reserved and prefer to keep their personal lives private. Lastly with online communication, do not forward information that has been sent to you without checking and verifying its authenticity. This can be applied to your professional and personal day-to-day communication.
Respect time and bandwidth of others Electronic communication allows information to be sent to people anywhere in a matter of seconds. However, the bandwidth is limited. The receptivity of a person living in metropolitan areas is not the same as people living in rural areas. Be mindful of the content you share. Make sure that your written communication is meaningful and simple without redundant graphics or large attachments that can take ages to download.