Simply stated, it is network etiquette; that is, the etiquette of cyberspace, including when learning in an online environment. Therefore, netiquette is a set of rules for behaving well online.
When you enter any new culture—and the Internet and online learning has its own culture—you may commit a few social blunders. For example, you might offend others without meaning to, or you might misunderstand what others say and take offense when it is not intended.
Use your campus email account. When sending an email specific to a course, include the course name in the subject line of the email message.
Assume communication on the internet is not secure. Never put anything in an email message that you would not put on a postcard.
Respect the copyright on material that you reproduce. Identify your sources if you use quotes, references, or other resources.
If you are forwarding or re-posting a message you've received, do not change the wording. If the message was a personal message to you and you are re-posting to a group, you should first ask permission of the original sender. You may shorten the message and quote only relevant parts, but be sure you give proper attribution.
A good rule of thumb is be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you receive. You should not send or respond to heated messages even if you are provoked. Wait overnight to send emotional responses to messages.
Be especially careful with sarcasm. Be professional and use care when interacting online; you don’t have the ability to gauge emotions or reactions to your comments.
Use mixed case lettering. UPPER CASE LOOKS AS THOUGH YOU ARE SHOUTING. Capitalize words only to highlight a point or for titles.
Use smileys (“emoticons”) to indicate tone of voice, but use them sparingly. :-) is an example of a smiley (sideways view). Do not assume that the inclusion of a smiley will make the recipient happy with what you say or wipe out an otherwise insulting comment.
Do not use slang or local acronyms.
Personalize your question or response. Address your message to the person by using their name.
Be specific and identify what issue, topic, or specific statement you are asking about/responding to.
Refer to the topic/message you are replying to by including the topic in your message.
Invite a response to your comment by asking another open-ended question.
Be brief without being overly terse. When replying to a message, include enough original material to be understood but no more. It is extremely bad form to simply reply to a message by including the entire previous message: edit out all the irrelevant material.
Keep your messages to no more than two or three paragraphs at a time. Any longer and it becomes difficult to read. Moreover, shorter messages encourage more people to join in to the discussion. This means you should plan your responses before you write them.
If you do post a long message, warn other readers at the beginning that it is lengthy.
This information was abstracted from guidelines offered for unlimited distribution on the Delaware Technical Community College website.