Netiquette in the Growing World of Professional Communication


It is a relatively new term.

One that is extremely relevant, especially to the growing world of Professional Communication.

There are many things that you shouldn’t do online, both as a person, and as a professional. For example, spamming a group chat with GIFs, or the new Facebook stickers. It might be funny, but now everyone has to scroll back up for a good five minutes to remember what was said before. Which is incredibly annoying. Similarly, if you are a company like Kobo Books and you send out three or more emails a day with “book recommendations just for you!” customers are going to be rather annoyed with the constant barrage of recommendations and updates.

Not being annoying to others is the first rule of Netiquette. People that ignore this crucial rule of internet life generally receive a reaction similar to the one below, whether that reaction is public, in a sub-tweet, or behind closed doors.

Some common examples of the opposite of netiquette are:

~ Your friend is a lovable, but gullible idiot, and sends you chain mail

~ Your manager sends out an email to all staff and doesn’t give any context as to what they are addressing

~ Your Aunt is impatient and sends you the same text over and over again until you respond to it (in case you didn’t get it the first three times)

~ Your teammates Snapchat Story is practically composed of the exact same snaps every day

~ Your YouTube video on “How to Tie Your Shoelaces” has a raging political debate taking place in the comment section

~ Your Manager can’t pronounce your name or find the proper character keys for the accents above all the vowels, so they publicly refer to you as something else in the staff email chain

~ Your Google account is trying to force you to love Google+ as much as it does

~ You receive an email that is completely capitalized from an angry coworker, and they meant to send it to your Manager, but instead sent it to you

All of the things above are excellent examples of what to avoid.

But what should you strive for?

That is the question that the growing world of Professional Communication (or ProComm) at Ryerson University is now striving to answer. Both staff and students have many ideas, and both are equally excited about developing an answer.

The way in which we communicate “appropriately” with one another in person dictates how we decide what polite internet conversation looks like online. This means that things like response time, play a large role in how we perceive each other over the internet. For example, a quick response to an email or text is considered very polite. It is the equivalent of being in a conversation where everyone participating really cares about what is being said. In contrast, a two hour response time or longer is considered impolite, and depending on the situation, can even be considered dismissive. Today’s world is so fast paced that responding more than two hours later could mean that your input doesn’t matter because the moment has passed. This is particularly true for students who have multiple classes, lectures, labs and extracurricular activities to attend on a day-to-day basis. What was taking place an hour ago might not still be important.

This increasing pressure for quick response time brings up the issue of our phones being electronic leashes; however, that debate is another Blog in itself. The other most pressing new addition to the netiquette of Professional Communication is awareness and use of pronouns. Pronouns are what a person uses to refer to themselves. For example, him/his/he for people that identify as male, or her/she/hers for people that identify as female, or they/theirs/them for individuals who identify as non binary. It is considered not only polite, but necessary now in the professional world to include pronouns in a standard greeting. For example:

“Hello my name is Sam, my pronouns are him/his/he and I grew up in California. What’s your name?”

This is an excellent step forward for the professional world as it makes the concept of pronouns common place. At Ryerson University emphasis is placed on acceptance and awareness of the preferences of those on campus. Particularly this year, as there are new gender neutral washrooms signs all over campus and on every floor of residence. This is a huge step in the right direction; however, the real question is whether or not the professional world will adopt this into its online existence. For example, having more gender options on passports and government documents. As many government forms still only afford citizens the option of simply “male,” or “female,” and do not even give the option of “other” as newer forms do.

Response time ideals, the use of pronouns, and the already established “proper way to email someone” is just the beginning of what the world of Professional Communication is going to ask of those who study it.

As the years go on and the program ages, I am sure it will adapt many additional customs and rules. Ones that I am excited to discover, dispute (if necessary), and help make common practice.

That’s it for fletcherized thoughts this week everyone, make sure you remember to look up.

Especially if your twitter handle is @EID100_RU