What is Netiquette? Definition, Communication, and Rules

What is Netiquette?

Well, we derive the word Netiquette from the combination of two words.

These are: Internet and Etiquette.

Since we understand Etiquette to be the codes and conducts accepted as proper in the society;

We should also understand Internet Etiquette or Netiquette to mean the codes and conducts that are accepted as proper on the Internet.

Netiquette should be observed in all aspects of the net.

These ranges from:

  • Social media
  • Web forums
  • Online chats platforms
  • Email
  • Website comments
  • Online gaming
  • Online communications in its entirety.

To be succinct, the answer to the question, “what is Netiquette?” means:

Abiding by the rules and conduct of each media platform!

But you need a comprehensive explanation about what Netiquette is.

We have that in the following paragraphs.

What is Netiquette and Why is it Important?

To perfectly comprehend Netiquette’s importance, it seems reasonable to me to distinguish between two different communication.

The answer to the question posed “What is Netiquette” is most times perceived from the initial meaning of communication and tweaked a little for dialogues.

Written here are two different communication to be discussed.

Communication between two persons: This involves conversations from one person to another.

This communication includes personal messages in emails and private chat pages.

Communication between many persons: This kind of communication includes:

  • Forums
  • Communities
  • Mail lists
  • Social media
  • Mini blogging
  • Websites and
  • www boards.

In a nutshell, it involves communications between more than two persons.

In addition, there is a difference between commercial organizations’ communication and restricted dialogues, in which similar guidelines are used.

There are lots of guidelines on the internet, and the guidelines to be followed depend a lot on the digital platform.

Majority of online forums already have laid out guideline and protocols.

Some of the different media forum guidelines are explained below.

Letters, Emails, mails: Good use of grammar, polite address, proper rendering of words and salutations are necessary.

The person the message is being sent to should be properly addressed, and this is subject to the relationship existing between them.

The contents the digital letter possesses must be easy to assimilate or comprehensive, clear and brief.

Extravagant words aren’t necessary.

Since restrictions and characters in traffic of emails differ, it would be best to use any of the popularly accepted encoding of characters.

Voluminous attached files are sent daily without consideration for the person receiving the message and their data service.

This kind of behavior is against the codes or conduct of internet etiquette and is viewed as spamming.

Online groups and public chat pages: Online groups and public chat pages are most times attentive to proper etiquette or manners.

A netizen should be very careful so as not to annoy other netizens. Internet users should follow all codes and conducts imposed.

Courtesy should be shown, threads must be factual, and it would be best to avoid using pejoratives or flaming.

Try to make less use of uppercase letters because frequent usage of uppercase letters can be seen as screaming.

Correct spellings, proper sentences, salutations, nicely composed goodbyes are dutiful.

Lately, in different media forums, abbreviations like OMG and rep are now the norms and all this makes communication on social media hard for the newcomers.

Though translations of these slangs or abbreviations can be found on google.

Mini blogging and social media: In social media forums like Facebook and mini blogging media forums like Twitter.

The use of Netiquette is necessary in order to avoid curses, cyber stalking, sexist comments.

Crossing the boundary of proper communication online can sometimes result to legal problems or lawsuits filed against you.

Netizens are advised to always adhere to rules and conduct tailored for the social platform. 

To assist netizens worldwide in doing this, I have compiled several guidelines on how to make good use of social media in the subheading below.

Social Media Guidelines Template: What will Help You Adhere to Social Medial rules

Social Media Guidelines -Netiquette

1.Review properly before posting:

There is a saying that “the internet is forever”, meaning the internet can store information either good or bad for a very long time.

So, we all need to be very cautious about what we post.

Sending nude pictures of ourselves and others can cost us and our loved ones a lot of embarrassment.

The internet is highly volatile, and it takes very little time before your tweet has a thousand retweets.

If you are going through difficulties either in your marriage, at work, with your friends or siblings;

It would be best if you don’t post or tweet it on social media.

Asides posting flaming and trolling people online, another thing you should be cautious about uploading is your personal information.

Posting personal information like passwords, your daily path to work or school can jeopardize your safety and that of your loved ones.

2. If you can’t say it to a person’s face, then don’t say it on social media:

Chatting or working behind your screens’ safety gives you no liberty to act rudely to people on the internet.

You obviously wouldn’t talk trash to some random person in public except you want a black eye, instead politeness would be shown.

Likewise, also talk politely to other netizens on social media.

3. Do not think that everyone gets your joke:

Using sarcasm makes a one-on-one conversation very interesting.

But on social media chat rooms like twitter and Facebook, sarcasms can lead to heated disputes, and physical harm in severe cases.

Keep in mind that while a particular joke may be funny to people of the same background, culture and religion;

it’s very possible that people with backgrounds, culture and religion different from yours may find it very offensive.

So, before posting what you view as a joke, ask yourself questions like:

  • Will this joke offend people from other race, culture and religion?
  • Does the joke favor a religion above another?

Sarcastic jokes have caused a lot of pointless debates, because comprehending the intent of the commenter may be difficult.

What you see as funny, another person may see as annoying. We all see things differently. The use of sarcasm should be avoided.

4. Content with big bytes shouldn’t be sent:

It is vulgar to bombard a public chat room, a private chat page, and even a person’s email address with misguiding links or messages about religious beliefs and political agendas.

Even if you consider the information as very helpful, please do not spam.

Avoid sending videos or animations with heavy megabytes. Sometimes you may own animations or videos with quotes that appear soothing.

You are at liberty to send if it isn’t an extensive file, but don’t send if otherwise; send a link.

Also, don’t attach extensive files when sending emails, attaching a link would be best.

5. Make use of emoticons:

Chatting online can be described as communication without observable facial expressions or mannerism.

And a lack of this features can lead to misinterpretation of a person’s emotions or feelings.

To avoid misunderstanding one’s emotional intent or yours being misunderstood, it would be best to use emoticons when appropriate.

Use happy emoticon when you’re happy and use the sad emoticon when you’re sad.

6. Respect the privacy of others:

Giving out another person’s email address and password without permission is very disrespectful.

Also, you shouldn’t pay attention to posts or rumors about another person. The rumors usually are propagandas in a lot of cases.

Showing respect for another person’s private life also includes not sending screenshot of a chat you had with the person.

Sending nude pictures of an enemy is bad internet etiquette.

7. Follow the guidelines:

Rules govern our society, and without them there will be anarchy. In the same manner, internet forums also possess rules.

Make sure the rules and conditions are read, even though they’re very long.

Doing all that will help you know and abide by the rules governing an internet forum.

8. Let things go:

This statement sounds like something you’ll read in the bible.

Well, I’m no bible scholar but even I know that to avoid argument online, you must abide by those words;

Especially if you love public chats forums like Twitter.

Many netizens are not internet polite, so the tendency you are going to be offended either intentionally or unintentionally is high.

Replying a troll can be hard to resist but beginning flame threads or tweeting controversial ideologies is bad internet etiquette.

Accounts can be suspended or blocked because of it.

In whatever instance you find yourself online, just learn to let things go.

9. Don’t misuse the section for comments:  

So many classes on the net have a section for comments integrated in them, which allows the students of that class to ask about topics they do not understand and exchange ideas.

The section provided for comments can only be of advantage if the students have the needed knowledge of the etiquette governing classes online.

If you find the class to be boring or do not understand what is being taught, wait for an explanation or ask at the proper moment if none is given.

The section for comment is not a substitute for Facebook messenger, it aids learning.  

10. Effective conversation:

Attempts to understand wrongly spelled words muddled together with terrible punctuations can be very frustrating.

And it can hinder your audience from grasping the message.

Content is a key to effective communication.

So, the proper use of grammar and spelling is very important.

Before you post about a topic, be sure the information you’re about posting is authentic.

Another factors that can hinder effective online communication is the use of negative replies.

If you aren’t careful, you could exchange words with a fellow netizen on social media.

And this can be very hard to resist, especially if your pride has been bruised a little.

If you’ve been offended by a fellow netizen online, why not stop the chat and calm yourself down?

The urge to reply your offender will be very strong, but try your best to resist it.

11. Grammar Policing

Oh, and don’t be a grammar cop, that annoying person who’s always highlighting the mistakes in everyone’s grammar.

No one likes grammar policing, anyone can make a mistake, and no one is perfect. Chastising a person’s grammar is bad netiquette.

12. Help put out flame wars:

Flaming on social media can be fun, especially on Twitter, and this habit has infected a lot of netizens.

If you are a system administrator, it would be best to take down the page of the netizen flaming instead of amusing yourself by their trend.

13. Be professional and polite:

Communicating online grants you a measure of anonymity that you do not possess when communicating face to face.

And because of this, a lot of netizens have disregarded etiquette and behaved indecently toward others.

This attitude is wrong. You should make it a goal to be polite.

And professional when commenting even when you do not agree with the ideas of other.

14. Do not make inside jokes on public chat groups:

When chatting in public forums like a Whats App group, Twitter, Facebook and more, do not make jokes that’ll make the rest of the group feel left out.

If a joke suddenly pops up in your head, directly message those who you feel will understand.

15. Be selective when choosing friends:

It can be viewed as offensive if deleted from someone’s friend list.

So, before you send out friend requests or accept friend requests from others, do background checks about the person.

A person shouldn’t be added to the friend list if you have no intentions of keeping in touch.

If you’re interested in someone for work-related reasons, add them on professional sites like Telegram, LinkedIn and so on.

But exceptions to this could be instances in which disagreements occur, and the friendship might seem beyond fixing.

But if not, it would be best to not unfriend a person over trivial matters.

16. Learn to reply messages on time: 

We cannot always reply messages on time because of factors like work, receiving a message while chatting, fatigue, mood swings and more.

But this should not become a habit because it can be seen as offensive.

If a situation causes you to reply late, it would be polite to state your reason if warranted or apologize.

And even if your reason is genuine, still apologize, it shows courtesy.

If a question is personal or you are not in the mood to reply, simply make it known.

17. Research to know if the information is factual:

The entire net is flooded with false information, and if you do not want your knowledge to drown in them, research is required.

You might have seen ads with headlines like drink this and your wrinkles will be gone, do this and get $20,000 000 in two days.

But all these are impossible except you steal the money or you’re given by someone which is unlikely.

If you receive emails or messages talking on subjects like politics, religion, celebrities, healthcare and more, do your research.

Don’t join in ignorantly spreading propagandas which can ruin a person’s career, reputation, or even cause harm to them.

Make searches on Wiki, Google or Bing.

Do not be naïve or think that mass sharing the message will bring you some sort of good fortune.

18. Make sure your information is up to date:

If you own a website or blog, make sure the information you’re dishing out is accurate and if it becomes outdated, make sure you update them.

And don’t let your status show “online” if you’ll not be available.

If you can’t maintain your blog or website, dissolve it, don’t be misleading.

Netiquette and Legal Matters

Netiquette And Legal Matters

Netiquette is all about being respectful online.

It also involves respecting copy and usage rights or security rules, protection of data rights, and privacy policies.

Violating some very special regulations can lead to penalties or legal suits.

The breaching of some laws can give you a slap on the wrist by warning emails about the laws you’ve broken or imposing restrictions for limited periods.

But when serious rules and agreement are breached, legal consequences may be imposed.

Sexist post, racist speech, disregarding the copy and usage rights of protected works can be serious breaches.

Internet etiquette exists to help make online interactions easy, and they also help us remain tethered to civility.

And this civility is not just restricted to online politeness, it touches all areas of the internet.

The laws governing the internet or social media in most cases aren’t always implemented on time.

So, it seems as if these laws don’t exist, but when enforced, they can be catastrophic. Obeying them is the wise thing to do.

Parting Words

The internet has aided us in finding info quickly, making friends, sharing ideas and connecting.

But we all know that when much is given, a lot is also expected back.

The internet has its standards and we should all strive very hard to obey them or else we want to cause problems legally for ourselves.

Observance of internet etiquette and guidelines aids in bringing order to the internet.

And yes, reading the terms and agreement can be tiresome because of their voluminous pages, but these rules exist to protect you and others.

So see them as guides existing to provide protection.

I hope that the content in this article has provided answers to the question “What is Netiquette?”

This blog provides its audience with safety guidelines on proper use of the internet.

Or in a nutshell, shedding more light on what Netiquette means and more.

4 thoughts on “What is Netiquette? Definition, Communication, and Rules”

  1. What a read! So interesting… little one to add is taking permission before placing that video calls when chatting…it’s very important…
    Nice article 💪🏿

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