A Product Of The iGeneration

This blog is where I make commentary on everything from serious world and American issues to the stupid crap that celebrities do, say, and get away/don't get away with. To read my personal thoughts and about my everyday life, go to www.xanga.com/rhymemaster0515.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Netiquette - GET IT!

It has occurred to me that some people don't know good netiquette. First of all, let's explain what netiquette is.

Netiquette is a pormanteau of the words "net" and "ettiquette." Netiquette is basically a set of rules on how to be courteous in cyberspace. Appearantly, A LOT of people out there need a lesson in this. So here is one!

1) The first rule of netiquette is remember that there is, in fact, a person behind the screen. You may think you're just talking to a computer and therefore you are entitled to say anything you want, but there is a person with emotions behind that screen. Remember that. Think about it like this. What you just typed in the chat room...if you were in front of the person, would you say it to their face??? Never say anything in a chat room, message board, or IM that you wouldn't be prepared to say to the person's face.

2) You have a standard of behavior in real life. Like, you wouldn't just be sitting there in the park and suddenly tell a stranger to "Shut the hell up!" would you? No. Don't do it online. It's bad netiquette. Adhere to the same code of ethics online that you would adhere to in real life.

3) A good piece of advice is to lurk around before you speak. Get a feel for the conversation going on, whether it be on a message board or in a chat room. Watch other people talk, and get a feel for how the attitude is there. Is it relaxed or is it pretty uptight? Doing this may also help you figure out if it's a message board or chat room you even want to be in in the first place.

4) On message boards, stay on topic. Don't spam either. Realize that on a message board about celebrities, passing on idle gossip may sit well and provide entertainment for others. But, passing on this kind of gossip on a journalists' mailing list might not be so accepted.

5) Be respectful of other people's time and bandwidth. Don't post HUGE messages that make a point that you could make in one small paragraph. Having to read a huge message takes up a lot of time! Plus, the longer the message, the more bandwidth it takes up, both bandwidth of the host you are on AND the users' bandwidth. Remember, you may have a broadband connection (I do), but other people (like many of my friends) are on dial-up connections, and while us broadbanders maybe flyin' on 768 kbps and higher, but dial-up users are usually stuck somewhere between 28.8 and 56.6 kbps! Respect that! Don't post the same message more than once...twice would be an honest mistake if you accidentally hit the buttom twice, and most will understand that, but don't repeatedly post the same thing!

6) Here's a BIG rule. Be careful who you send chain letters to. Sending a lewd joke may be OK to send to a few close friends who you know won't mind and will find it funny, but don't send it to someone whom you're not sure whether it will offend them or not. Also, don't send chain letters constantly. It can get really annoying. One good one every once in a while to a few close friends aren't so bad, but if you send 20 of them a day, then it gets really annoying. (Believe me, I used to do this!)

7) Don't forward private e-mail. If a friend sends you a story about something that happened to them at school/work/on the street today, don't take it upon yourself to send it to 20 other people. This is just rude, and could result in the loss of a good friend.

8) Avoid flaming on message boards. This is just a display of much taste you lack. If someone flames you, ignore them. It's not easy, but it shows you are the better man or woman. Watch your language in both message boards, e-mails, and chat rooms. You know, in some areas, as I said about the gossip, it could be more acceptable than in other areas. Some chat rooms, for example an hip-hop chat room, the "F" word would probably be pretty much OK. But, chat rooms, like the one I go into a lot on AOL, some words might not be so acceptable.

9) Respect others' privacy. Don't break into other people's online accounts. This is very tasteless. In real life, you wouldn't dream of walking into your friends' home and reading their mail, would you? Don't do it online either. It's just pathetic to stoop that low. This ties in with the rule of not signing into a messenger with another person's ID and pretending to be that person. Being nosy is never a trait that people look for in a friend. Check out this case, of a nosy co-worker:

"In 1993, a highly regarded foreign correspondent in the Moscow bureau of the Los Angeles Times was caught reading his coworkers' email. His colleagues became suspicious when system records showed that someone had logged in to check their email at times when they knew they hadn't been near the computer. So they set up a sting operation. They planted false information in messages from another one of the paper's foreign bureaus. The reporter read the notes and later asked colleagues about the false information. Bingo! As a disciplinary measure, he was immediately reassigned to another position at the paper's Los Angeles bureau." (-Excerpted from "Netiquette" by Virginia Shea)

Lesson learned?

10) Don't abuse your power in cyberspace. For example, you may be a system administrator on a network of computers, but don't take advantage of it and read private e-mail.

11) Be lenient with new users. Newbies, as they're called, will make mistakes. Don't be mean about it though, just happily correct them. This ties into flaming. There is no need to start a flame war over one little mistake. Just correct the mistake in a nice way, and chances are the newbie will appreciate your willingness to help them!

12) Here is a big one that you'll always see. NEVER TYPE IN CAPS LIKE THIS. This is the online equivalent of screaming your lungs out. Don't do it. Every once in a while in a chat room someone may do it, but if they have a good explanation, so be it. For example, in the chat room that I frequent, there is a very nice woman who comes in who has trouble with her eyes. Therefore, when she comes in, we all type in caps so it's easier for her to see. It's times like these that this is excuseable. It's like raising your voice for a person who can't hear well, get it? But raising your voice just to raise your voice is downright rude. If you want to emphasize a point, use italics or underlining, or try just typing the one word/phrase you want to emphasize in caps, not the entire message.

13) Tying to the one above, no matter how "cool" it looks, don't type in sticky caps. It's hard to read, and it makes you look kinda dumb, to be honest. In case you don't know what sticky caps are...iT's wHeN pEoPlE tYpE lIkE dIs N AlL. Yeah. Hard to read, huh?

That's pretty much it for basic netiquette.. But, before we go, I made a list of little mini-netiquette rules that apply more to IMing than anything. The ones above apply more to message boards, but I don't use message boards a lot, I'm more a fan of the chat rooms and IMing. So, here are my little rules for IMing. These are things that I just like people to follow when talking to me in IM, and I'm sure I speak for a lot of people when posting these little guidelines.

1) When you're in IM, and someone says "Well, I gotta go" (or g2g or something along the lines of that) DO NOT SAY "No, wait" or "Wait, you can't go yet!" This is rude and inconsiderate of their time! When someone says "I have to go," it means they have to get off the computer and do something. Me? It's usually I have to go and clean, but sometimes it's other things. It's very rude to tell someone they can't go and make them stay there. Just say "OK" when someone says they have to go...don't ask questions, don't say no, just let them go. Their time is just as important as yours.

2) Don't sign off without saying you have to go. This is really rude. Now if you honestly forget to say you have to go, it's OK. If no one has typed anything within the past, say, 15 minutes, then it might be OK to assume that the other person is busy and you don't want to interrupt them. But if you're in the middle of the conversation, don't just sign off abruptly. At least say "g2g" to let them know you had to go. The exception to this would be getting booted offline, or your computer acting erratically, a medical emergency (LOL), etc.

3) If someone sets themselves to "invisible," meaning they're online but can't be seen by others online, and you know they're on but invisible, try to resist the urge to IM them. The possibility is that they may not want to talk to anyone, and you have not improved their mood by IMing them at an inoppurtune time.

4) Don't overload people with IMs. This will freeze their computer, or at least their IM program. For example:

You: Hey
You: What's up?
You: Not much here
You: Just chillin'
You: How about you?
You: LOL

That's six IMs right in a row, that could have been compacted into two IMs, like so:

You: Hey, what's up?
Me: Not much, you?
You: Just chillin', LOL
Me: Sounds fun, LOL

Don't send a million IMs in a row, no one likes a frozen computer.

5) Don't IM someone as soon as they get on. Since their IM program is probably still trying to load stuff, doing this could also freeze their program or computer, plus, when their computer or program is frozen, it doesn't help that since they can't answer you keep saying "Are you there? Are you there? Are you there?"

6) If you're in a chat room and you strike up a conversation with someone and want to take it to IM so you aren't disrupting the room, ask first. It's just a precautionary measure, in case they don't want to do an IM, then you don't pop up on them on suprise. Of course, if they say "No thanks, not right now," you could always say "Is it alright if I add you to my buddy list, so maybe we can IM some other time?"

7) Speaking of buddy lists - ask before you add someone to yours. Just because you're IMing with them and have long-term online-friendship in mind doesn't mean they have the same thing in mind. On messengers such as Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger, your add has to be approved by the person before it takes effect. But, on AOL and AIM, it's not like this. So this rule is especially important when using AOL or AIM, where the person doesn't get the option to deny your add.

8) Don't constantly say "Are you there?" when someone doesn't answer your IM right away. Take into consideration that they may be multi-tasking or they may be involved in more than one IM session, and they can't get to your IM the very second it comes in.

That's all I can really think of now. A huge thanks goes out to this site here:
http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html for helping me to compile the list of netiquette tips. I hope these all, both the ones I got from that website and the ones I came up with on my own, come in helpful to any newbies to the net, or to anyone who just needs a lesson in good netiquette. :-)


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