Netiquette: Etiquette for Communicating Online
Most, if not all, of the communication in online courses will occur online, which poses both benefits and challenges. It means that we can craft our responses effectively. If, however, we don't take the time to craft our responses, we can communicate unintended messages.
It is sometimes difficult to remember that there are real people reading our messages. Words can mean many things, and what we intend to say is not always what others hear. This is especially true of "online communication" where others do not have the opportunity to see your "body language" or hear your tone; therefore, they have a greater possibility of misunderstanding what you truly mean. For those reasons, users of the internet have come up with guidelines for net communication aimed at lessening the chances of miscommunication and perceived disrespect.
Please, follow these guidelines in all of your online responses and discussion groups.
Respect all who are participating in this learning community by
- honoring their right to their opinions
- respecting the right of each person to disagree with others
- responding honestly but thoughtfully and respectfully using language which others will not consider foul or abusive
- always signing your name to any contribution you choose to make
- respecting your own privacy and the privacy of others by not revealing information which you deem private and which you feel might embarrass you or others
- being constructive in your responses to others in the class
- being prepared to clarify statements which might be misunderstood or misinterpreted by others
One good way to avoid problems is to compose your postings off-line and reread them before sending them. Something written in haste may not say what you really think after the heat of the moment has passed.
A Special Note about Anger
- Do not send messages that you have written when you are angry. You will almost always be sorry because anger almost always inspires anger in others.
- In the online world, angry messages are known as “flaming” and are considered very bad behavior.
- Do not send messages that are written all in upper case; this is the visual equivalent of SHOUTING. It is considered aggressive, and in the online world, it is considered very bad behavior. If you ever feel like shouting a message, take a deep breath and wait until you have calmed down before responding. Then, respond in a calm and factual manner.
Dealing with Conflict
What should you do if you are having a problem with some aspect of the course or a conflict with another student or the instructor?
Call the instructor to speak on the phone or to schedule an in-person meeting to discuss – in a calm and factual way – the nature of the problem. Electronic mail can be effective for many types of communication; it is not necessarily the best forum, however, for dealing with conflict or for airing and solving problems.