A Brief 'Net Primer


Internet Etiquette

E-Mail

The tips to effective email are quite straightforward.

Keep it simple and professional. You never know who will read the message, so be sure to watch what you say. Someone could forward your message to your boss, a thousand of your closest friends and clients, or post it on the front page of the New York Times. Messages to mailing lists are frequently archived and made available on web pages...you never know who will find your postings.

Keep it to the point. Be succinct, don't stray off topic.

Use the subject line to identify your topic. If you have multiple things to say, consider breaking them into multiple messages.

If you're responding to someone else's message be sure to either comment in the relevant part of their original message or paraphrase their comments. Always provide attribution. Including portions of the original message is important as the reader may not remember his or her original comments or may have picked up a thread (line of discussion) after it began.

Example of commenting, Unix style

>> Better educate folks early and often. Getting a license to drive is
>> more than being able to afford the wheels.
[snip]
> Anyway, my point is that as marketers we can't go restricting the
> access of our
> prospective clients. Certainly can't have a tag on the front of the
> Sharper Image catalog stating "Perusing this material in the john
> is prohibited"
>
> Right?

The Unix style commenting also allows you to make comments to specific points in order, i.e.:

On Thursday, April 20th, Fred Smith wrote:
> Fred said
I agree
> Fred then said
I disagree 

Note that you should always identify the original poster.

Use a signature line to identify yourself and your organization. See below. Rather than retyping each time, cc: mail users can save this as a file (export) and retrieve it (import) for each message you send.

Do not send messages intended for one person to an entire mail list.

Typing in all-caps means, on the net, that you're yelling. People will respond with a polite "Why are you yelling at me?" instead of responding to the text of your message. This includes headlines. Do not use all-caps, unless of course, you ARE yelling.

Spell-check everything. Most people do get lazy with email, so you'll see a lot of mis-speelings, made up words, and colloquialisms. Resist the temptation to join in. Be as professional in your written word as you would in any other communication.

People expect a much higher level of responsiveness with email. Do not let your email sit for days before you answer.

Do not post someone else's private message publicly, unless you have prior permission to do so.

Do not rekey a copywrited story and post anywhere.

Be sure to give exact citing of sources.

Don't be prolific on mailing lists. Let others have a chance to express their views...you may learn something.

Use line lengths of less than 70 columns so that you give room for others to provide comments.

Bold and italics don't work in ascii email. Instead, use one of the following symbols to denote bold or italics * or _. This is an example of the word *yikes* in bold.

Use smilies or "emoticons" (listed separately on this site) to show further emotions. ;-)

Sample ".sig" file used for identifying postings or email.
************************************************************************************* 
Lee Levitt 
Managing Director - Acelera Group
(781) 444-2211 or visit our website at http://www.aceleragroup.com
*************************************************************************************

Usenet

Beyond the etiquette required for email, usenet has some specific etiquette points of its own, including:

Be sure to lurk for a while before you post. Get the flavor of a group and don't embarrass yourself by posting a question that had just been answered 16 times. People will flame you for this, and the polite ones will yell "READ THE FAQ"

Don't post the same message in multiple places. Post it where it belongs and people will find it. (Same thing for usenet and mail lists) Posting the same message in multiple places is called "spamming" and is frowned on. Makes people read the same message twice or more...

Delete the message once it's no longer valid (if your browser supports deletions). If you're selling something, don't post a follow-up message saying the item was sold, simply delete the original message.

When you want to modify a message, delete the original. Identify the modified message as a follow-up


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