Etiquette is underrated. Many people no longer think before speaking, which is why netiquette is so important when communicating online.
Have you ever felt that the internet has become an angry place? A place where people unload their frustrations onto strangers they will likely never meet?
How is it that we have become so inconsiderate towards others that we can simply wish them ill and continue with our day as if nothing happened?
Most people know not to take keyboard warriors seriously. They know that the only thing these people are doing is projecting their hurt onto others. Simply knowing this doesn’t make the experience anywhere near pleasant.
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Table of Contents
Where does netiquette come from?
It’s a combination of the words Internet and Etiquette = Netiquette.
What is digital etiquette or netiquette?
Netiquette or digital etiquette is an informal set of rules to abide by while using the internet.
Knowing netiquette will help you to conduct yourself elegantly and ensure the same experience for your fellow users.
Where do we use netiquette?
Appropriate netiquette guidelines apply to all forms of internet communication including forums, social media platforms, virtual classes, work meetings, etc.
The core rule of Netiquette.
The number one rule of netiquette that I abide by, and which is at the heart of all other netiquette guidelines is:
To not say anything online that I wouldn’t say offline.
How important is netiquette?
While communicating online, netiquette is extremely important for the sole reason that the other person cannot read your non-verbal cues or your body language and cannot hear the tone of your voice. A lot can be misinterpreted when these crucial aspects are missing.
The essence of netiquette is the same as general etiquette and that is to be considerate and kind towards others.
Netiquette rules and guidelines you should never miss:
Following are some informal netiquette guidelines outlining:
- what is good netiquette,
- some rules of netiquette with examples &
- explanation of what is appropriate netiquette while using the internet in various situations.
Always give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
When engaging with others online, it can be easy to misconstrue someone’s intentions or tone. It’s important to give the other person the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have good intentions.
Knowing netiquette will help you to foster productive conversations.
Additionally, taking the time to clarify your message and asking for clarification when needed can also help ensure that both parties are on the same page. Effective netiquette practices during online communication need patience, understanding, and a willingness to work toward mutual understanding.
Be aware of your own bias.
It is important to acknowledge and be mindful of our personal biases when communicating with others. These biases usually stem from our upbringing, experiences, and cultural background. By recognizing our biases, we can work towards developing a more open and inclusive mindset when interacting with others online.
It is equally important to take the time to truly listen to the perspectives of others, even and especially when they differ from our own. By doing so, we can appreciate the various schools of thought and have meaningful dialogues.
Don’t be rude or disrespectful.
Netiquette requires us to maintain a respectful and courteous tone. We should refrain from using derogatory language and avoid personal attacks on others. Always take the time to consider your words to ensure that your message is received as intended.
When interacting with others online, try to be mindful of cultural and social differences, and avoid making any generalizations about others based on their background or beliefs.
Read more, say less. Search first, ask later.
Always try to find as much information about what you want to know before asking that person.
Say, for example, you want to know where someone got their beautiful dress from.
Instead of jumping straight to your keyboard, take a minute or two to skim through the caption, comments, and tags to decipher the details. Chances are someone might have already asked the same question and received an answer.
Always check the FAQs of business pages before emailing them your query. It saves time on both ends.
Be generous with your compliments and stingy with your criticism.
You can always find something praise-worthy if you want to.
We are not perfect, so, we must not hold the other person to unrealistic standards. Growth is what we strive for.
Even when giving feedback, always start with something the other person did well. Balance it with constructive criticism along with some actionable steps on which they can improve.
When in doubt, reserve constructive criticism for the people you know personally or if someone specifically asked for it. In any case, well thought response and support are always the best.
Do not attack or insult anyone (no exceptions).
Remember, whatever you put out into the universe, somehow makes its way back to you. And we all want good things, so make sure we are putting out the same energy into the universe.
Humans seek validation and often engage in behaviours that promote a sense of connection. But be mindful of what is the foundation of your shared connection.
If you are bonding with someone over someone else’s misery or pain, rethink your foundation. You might think you are connecting with another person but in reality, it is just temporary and will leave you unfulfilled.
Don’t assume and be patient with others.
A major oversight I see in the online community is assuming that another person has had the same experiences as you. Smart devices in our pockets have extended our social circles, resulting in increased interaction with strangers. But the problem is that it’s incredibly difficult to walk in someone else’s shoes if you don’t know them.
Avoid slang language.
This ties well with the whole assumptions scenario. You might have come across the meme where a lady thought LOL means ‘Lots of love’ instead of ‘Laughing out loud’. The blunder?
She wrote LOL at the end of a message informing that some dear one has passed away. I can’t imagine the horror of that.
Try to use full sentences when in doubt. Don’t assume that people will always know what you are saying.
If you think it’s too much work to type something that you frequently use, go to General > Keyboards > Text replacement > Add a new one and you can decide on the unique shortcut. Android users can also apply this technique.
So, for example, the next time you type BRB it automatically changes to Be right back. Easy.
Technology is here to make our lives easier, but it’s not here to make us inconsiderate. That’s a robot’s job and even they are showing signs of empathy.
Writing in ALL CAPS is a major faux pass.
We don’t want anyone to think that we are yelling at them.
Correct composition and grammar.
If I wrote you a birthday card with the word “Birthday” spelt wrong, would it still have the same impact? Chances are, you wouldn’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when you feel loved and appreciated.
It conveys the message that I am not courteous enough to take two seconds to spell something correctly. Digital etiquette is all about being considerate of other people when you have to communicate in the online world.
Making and appreciating art is what distinguishes us from mere animals. So, take some time to formulate your sentences with appropriate grammar, spelling, and punctuation. There are a lot of free tools to help you with that.
The best in the game? Grammarly.
With Grammarly, it has become exceedingly easy to write well-structured sentences, as well as check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
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Ditch the sarcasm.
This is a somewhat controversial topic. It’s hard to understand sarcasm when the other person doesn’t know you personally.
Steer clear of sarcasm, especially in professional and formal settings, as it could lead to unwarranted problems. If you don’t have a rapport with the other person, it’s best to keep the sarcasm to the least.
No curse words.
Elegant people never curse for the simple reason that they have the vocabulary to articulate their emotions into words.
Take a moment to understand the purpose of different platforms.
Different platforms have varying levels of formality. Say, for example, LinkedIn is a networking platform for professionals, where the tone is generally more formal. Familiarizing yourself with the appropriate netiquette avoids a situation that might harm your professional reputation.
When in doubt, choose a formal tone unless you are on a first-name basis with the other person. By taking the time to understand the specific expectations of each platform, you can tailor your message to best fit the audience.
Grammarly has an excellent ‘Set Goals’ tab that lets you customize the audience you wish to cater to and the formality of your tone. It even allows you to choose the intention for your written material.
Is it meant to be purely informational, or geared towards convincing people about something?
Yours and others. This is where etiquette and netiquette overlap because respecting other people’s time is a basic courtesy. If you respect your time, you’ll do the same for others.
Be concise in your message. And always inform the other party in due time, if you are running late to a virtual (or in-person) event.
Along similar lines, be thoughtful and straightforward in your message. Using vague language only increases the chance of misinterpretations and disagreements.
Don’t take your contributions for granted.
People usually get offended if the other person doesn’t reply to them. Don’t take it personally.
It might look like on the outside that we know the person because their life is an open book on social media. However, I guarantee you that nobody knows the full extent of anyone’s life. Give people space and don’t try to force any kind of connection.
Say no to Spam.
Don’t send unsolicited messages or emails to other people. It’s okay to do a cold outreach and it’s okay to follow up on that, but drowning the other person in your emails and texts is not proper netiquette.
Think about it this way, would you go up and talk to someone about the same thing over and over again, even when the other person declined your offer? No, so, why do the same online?
Agree to disagree.
Don’t respond negatively when your opinions don’t match the other person’s views. Opinions are just that; personal.
Learn how to carry out a healthy, fruitful, and respectful discussion and you’ll go further in life than 99% of people.
Netiquette is an informal protocol of conduct for communicating online. Digital etiquette is designed to create a comfortable setting to interact with other people. Following appropriate netiquette can help us avoid misunderstandings and conflicts. That’s it, these were the unwritten rules of netiquette that deserve a comeback in 2023. Speaking of 2023, how are you sticking with your new year’s resolutions? Need some help, I got you. Check out this post if you want to support your goals.
Let me know in the comments below which digital etiquette mistake you wish people would not make.