Netiquette: Do You Know How to be a Decent Human Being?

The fact that we need to outline acceptable online behaviour on how to be a decent human being tends to make me question humanity. Nevertheless, there are trolls, idiots, and just plain rude people online. Therefore, the rules need to be outlined in the same way you need to tell a two year old (or your drunk friend) that eating a shoe is not necessarily socially acceptable (or a good source of nutrition).


Let’s make this list on understanding netiquette as simple to understand as possible, despite universities legitimately needing to write articles on how to be a decent human being online.

  1. Do not abuse people (for example, calling them names or threatening to harm them or their loved ones).
  2. Do not post copyrighted material that you do not own the rights to without proper sourcing (think of every essay ever written; plagiarism is not sexy).
  3. Remember your audience; everyone can read what you write so always ask yourself, “Would I be okay if every single person in the entire world read this?
  4. Respect everyone’s privacy — including your own. Do not reveal personal information. If you’re finding it hard to stop yourself from revealing personal information online, watch or read about this Criminal Minds episode to scare you from ever revealing too much online again.
  5. Write clearly and concisely. Technology has gone a long way; we don’t need to use t9 anymore, so you have no excuse to “typ lik dis”.

If you’re having trouble understanding some of these concepts, or you want some more elaboration on things I didn’t touch enough on, check out the following articles:

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/guides/about-netiquette
  2. http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html
  3. http://ctlt.ubc.ca/distance-learning/learner-support/communicating-online-netiquette/
  4. http://www.learnthenet.com/learn-about/netiquette/

In fact, I’ve made a handy-dandy chart for all you readers (yes, I’m talking to you Professor; you may be the only one reading my blog — #EID100) on how to know if you’re being appropriate online based on whether you know the person and whether or not the context is formal or informal:

Netiquette. It’s simple, really: just don’t be an asshole.*


*Some people may argue that swearing in a blog post used for a university class is not using netiquette, but anyone who was in my #EID100 class knows the professor said swearing was allowed for emphasis. Therefore, using it to punctuate my tone and end the article is (arguably) more effective than using no swear words at all. This is similar to J.K. Rowling having Molly Weasley say the only swearword in the Harry Potter series in The Deathly Hallows when saving her daughter’s life (Rowling 737). While I’m discussing Harry Potter anyway, I may as well include the iconic scene for dramatic effect: