Master Online Etiquette: 10 Basic Rules

With so much online communication going on every day, you want to establish proper communication with your digital “neighbors.” Read on to learn some netiquette tips we collected for you.

What is internet etiquette, or netiquette? The term "netiquette" was created by combining the words "net" and "etiquette.” Subsequently, the definition of online etiquette derives from the meaning of these two words. Netiquette is the proper way to conduct yourself when speaking via the internet. 

While social etiquette has changed throughout time and varies by culture, web etiquette is still relatively new. Every place where people meet and communicate has standards of behavior, be it a classroom, a coworking space, or a social media account. It's critical to be careful of how we interact online as more people spend time online and technology improves. Maintaining a positive online profile can be as simple as following online etiquette rules. So, what are the basic rules of netiquette?

10 Rules of Internet Etiquette

Rule 1: Remember the Human

When people communicate online, it is important to use good web etiquette because they frequently lose sight of the fact that they are dealing with actual people. Behind the words you're reading, there's a person. Because you're staring at text on a screen rather than staring someone in the eyes, it's easier to respond to a negative comment. Although nothing on the Internet is truly anonymous, there is a certain amount of anonymity. 

When you can't see someone's face or body language, it's also simple to misunderstand what they're saying. How many times have you read something and assumed it meant one thing but actually meant something completely different? Meaning can also get lost in translation when auto-correct changes your text or sloppy typing leaves out keywords.

Rule 2: Adhere to the Same Standards of Behavior Online that You Follow in Real Life

There's something liberating about being theoretically anonymous, or at the very least faceless, that allows you to say things you wouldn't say in person. You can type it and then log out of Facebook or shut down your computer. For the time being, you can ignore everyone's response.

However, this type of online behavior can still get you in trouble; it simply won't happen as quickly as if you were listening to their response in person. Failing to follow internet etiquette rules is more than just being impolite or rude - it can get you in trouble, for example:

Copying someone else's work is a violation of copyright laws. 

Claiming someone did something when they didn't could be considered defamatory and ruin their reputation. 

On a more intimate level, you can find yourself alienating a group of friends, family members, or coworkers as a result of something you've written.

Rule 3: Know Where You Are In Cyberspace

Because each online forum and domain has its own set of regulations in addition to basic digital etiquette rules, knowing where you're writing — and who your audience is — is critical. What is beneficial to one group may be detrimental to another's mentality or customs. 

For example, if you accidentally post about your meat-lovers blog and all the different ways you marinate chicken while conversing in a vegan chat group on Facebook, you can get some negative feedback.

Rule 4: Respect Others’ Time And Bandwidth

In today's world, information overload can be overpowering. It's critical to respect people's time and make your internet conversation brief and to the point. 

It's also important to remember that your messages, whether they're sent via email or posted online, take up space in storage systems. It's not a good idea to spam mailing lists with huge files or needless information.

Rule 5: Make Yourself Look Good Online

Under internet etiquette rules, spelling and grammar are important. Content is also crucial. Make sure you know what you're talking about before you post about "knowing" something. 

Another disadvantage of using the internet to communicate? If someone ruffles your feathers, it's all too easy to type out a harsh reply. Allowing something to sit for a day — or at least a few hours — can help you decide whether or not you actually need to make that comment. Often, you'll be relieved that you didn't respond too soon, or that you didn't over-respond.

Chat rooms are very appealing. Swearing, instigating flame fights, or making comments that you know will spark debate are all bad online etiquette examples. It's also worth remembering that sending a message in all caps is considered bad internet etiquette, as it's widely assumed to be the same as shouting at the recipient.

Rule 6: Share Expert Knowledge

One of the most significant advantages of increased internet communication is the capacity to instantly exchange and retrieve expert knowledge. This is one of the best applications of the internet if you're an expert with new research or information to share.

Rule 7: Help Keep Flame Wars Under Control

Flaming, on the other hand, appears to be widespread in the cyberworld, with people attempting to cause drama by expressing strong and offensive sentiments. It may be expected in some forums and chat rooms, but it is frowned upon in others. Administrators of Facebook groups, for example, may remove these messages or deny access to people who start flame wars or violate other digital etiquette rules.

Rule 8: Respect One Another's Privacy

This power to exchange data at the push of a button comes with a price. Respecting the privacy of others is a fundamental web etiquette guideline. Doxxing is the practice of publicly identifying or posting private information about someone as a means of retribution or revenge.

You should also refrain from snooping around on someone else's computer or email to obtain information that would otherwise be unavailable to you. Others may be tempted to try to acquire access to our personal information if everything is written down.

Rule 9: Don't Abuse Your Power

System administrators, for example, may have more influence in cyberspace than others. However, there are some netiquette boundaries that should not be broken, such as accessing other people's personal information. 

People in powerful positions may use social media platforms to get an advantage over their opponents or to knock others down because they can and because they have a large following. The best online etiquette practice is not to abuse this ability or say something on the internet that you might later regret.

Rule 10: Be Forgiving of Other People's Mistakes

Mistakes are unavoidable in a forum regulated by the written word and individual writers. While some are more expensive or scandalous than others, it is necessary to be forgiving if at all feasible. 

We should all take extra precautions to ensure that what we write is correct, especially if it may harm someone's reputation. If someone says something harsh about us without intending to offend, we should try to forgive them and accept their mistake.

Web Etiquette Takeaways

Many of us engage in online communication and reap the benefits of doing so: learning new things rapidly, making new friends and connections, and possibly feeling less alone in our activities and viewpoints. 

However, all of this access and authority comes with its own set of expectations and guidelines, including online etiquette rules. We don't want to alienate ourselves or get ourselves into social or legal difficulties, after all. 

It's critical to follow the principles of online etiquette and to remind ourselves from time to time that, while we may see emotionless characters on our screens, there are actual people behind those words who will experience real emotions when they read what we share online.

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