Communicating online is not the same as talking to someone face-to-face. And communicating with instructors and students in an online college class is not the same as texting or Facebook messaging your friends. Desiree’s discussion post below may be just right for chatting with friends, but not in most college classes.
Here are some suggestions for good “netiquette” in online classes.
“The most important rule of netiquette is ‘Think before you post.'”
- Avoid offending classmates
It’s easy to forget that there are real people with real feelings on the other side of our online conversations. Keep your conversations on topic, avoid personal attacks and think about how what you say will make others feel.
- Keep your voice down
USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS online is the equivalent of yelling. Instead use bold or italicize with your text in order to emphasize.
- Avoid sarcasm and subtleties
Communicating with someone just through text is very different from talking in person. Keeping this in mind may help you realize that it’s sometimes easier to sound insensitive and hurt someone’s feelings or have them miss the point when you’re communicating through text only. To avoid this, be clear and straightforward with your language.For example, if you were reading a chapter in your textbook that was particularly difficult and you state sarcastically, “Chapter 12 sure is an easy read,” other readers may not understand your sarcasm. Depending on the context, you may even cause more confusion. Instead, state clearly your idea: “Chapter 12 was really difficult for me to get through.”
- Just Wait
Assume any comment you read that sounds harsh wasn’t meant to offend. If you’re upset, you might wait a little before posting a too-hasty reply that you’ll regret later. Unless the author specifically says they’re angry, assume otherwise and ask for clarification of their meaning.
- Make the Extra Effort to Be Courteous
Connecting with others is an important part of the online learning experience. Fellow students can enrich your learning and provide extra help when you experience problems. Being courteous in online discussions can help build those important connections. Think about how you would speak to the person if you were talking to them face to face and act the same way.
- Make it Personal
Help make a stronger connection to others in your discussions by addressing them by name, like, “I see what you are saying, Bob, but I think you missed one important point…”
- Be Positive
It’s good to express your opinions in discussions, but don’t make disagreements personal. Agree to disagree in your exchanges of information and opinions. Keep your interactions with others friendly, especially when you’re getting to know each other.
- Spell It Out
With spellcheckers now available in most web browsers and in GeorgiaVIEW, there’s no excuse for inadvertent typos. Also, although most instructors want you to communicate freely and thoughtfully with your classmates in discussions, they also want you to demonstrate strong college writing. This means that abbreviated spelling and slang is best left out of online discussions. Avoid acronyms like OMG or text chat type like GR8.
- One Final Look
After you compose a posting, take a moment to reread your text before submitting. If it’s possible, reading out loud can be especially helpful. One final once-over can identify typos, misstatements, lack of clarity, or an unintended tone.
- What’s Written is Recorded
Remember that everything you post is recorded in most online discussions.
Adopted from Northern Arizona University's Netiquette Guide