Netiquette is your best friend, but don’t treat it like one.

Did you really want to say that?

In todays online society people often forget that what they are doing or saying is put on a world wide stage. You hear time after time “think about what you’re going to say before you say it”. But I find that this common notion is forgotten when people are posting online. They feel as though they are hidden behind their computer screen so they think that something that wouldn’t be acceptable in normal conversation is okay.

In this sense I want to talk about the term “Netiquette”. Of course the first/standard thing to do is to define the word using Merriam-Websters dictionary where it cites Netiquette as “rules about the proper and polite way to communicate with other people when you are using the Internet”. It is quite simple really. It is combining the words “Net” and “Etiquette”. The University of British Columbia states it quite well when they explain that “Netiquette is all about the code of behaviour established for communicating online. The rules for netiquette will vary, depending on the context (formal/informal); the people (known/unknown to each other) and the activity.”

Now everyone knows not to chew with their mouth open, but surprisingly not everyone knows that all caps looks like YOU ARE YELLING. In most cases, when you are using the internet you are doing so for a professional reason. So please do not, I repeat DO NOT (see the emphasis that gives?) treat the internet like you would when you are texting your best friend. Just as with regular etiquette there are simple rules that everyone should know about netiquette.

A big thing that people forget is that when you are talking to someone face to face or over the phone, your voice has certain inflections and sounds that portray the feeling of the conversation. Online you loose this quite quickly. Often people are not sure if you are mad, sad, or just stating a fact. Punctuation is a huge factor in this.

Like the picture above shows, punctuation is key in anything that is written word.

A common mistake online, is forgetting who the audience is. Now the mistake here comes down to 1) who you are talking to and 2) where are you posting or sending it to? Now as the title of this post suggests you don’t want to talk to your boss the same way that you would talk to your best friend. When talking with your friend you might use slang or abbreviations such as btw and use emojis or emoticons to portray your message. But trust me when I say this, you definitely have the time to type out “by the way” when you want to look professional. The same goes when you are talking to your friend; it is okay to use smiley faces to convey you are excited. When you are emailing your boss on the other hand, this is a big mistake. Although you may wish to portray you are happy about something, refrain from adding a smiley face to the end of your message. In a business sense, your intent will most likely come across just fine without one.

When posting online always, always, always, check before you publish. Sometimes you may be distracted and not notice that you typed “and the she and then she”. Always be aware of what you are sending or posting at all times. You really do not want to be that person who accidentally sends an embarrassing email to the whole office.

Seriously, don’t be that guy.


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