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FYI Journal

Netiquette Primer

Every one of our emailed newsletters starts with the date followed by something called "Netiquette." Some of you have never heard of it and some might have heard of it but really don't know what it's all about. Netiquette is derived from the words "Network" and "Etiquette" and very simply stated it's proper etiquette for Internet usage.

So, how are your Internet Manners? Do you practice good etiquette when you are online?

All ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have some basic rules to follow that are referred to as TOS (Terms of Service), Usage Agreement, or something similar. It's easy to think that once you've read one, you know it all; or some of us just skip that reading stuff and hit the "I AGREE" button.

Frankly, a lot is left up to "common sense" and manners in general. However, there are some Internet conventions that go beyond what "Mamma" taught you.

Here's an example of a little known convention, especially to "newbies":

Have you ever been in a CHAT and someone has told you to "stop shouting?" Or another in the room has asked you to "turn off your CAP LOCKS."

Using your CAP LOCKS (typing in ALL CAPS) is considered shouting and bad form. Back in the early days, when computers communicated via a tool like a BBS or telnet, typing in caps would make the screen "flicker" slightly (presumably from a change in contrast of light letters on a dark background). This was hard on the eyes...and was "attention" getting, as shouting in a library would be in the real world. Hence, typing in all capital letters was considered rude.

There are a few exceptions to the ALL CAPS rule. If indeed, you are seeking attention for a legitimate reason, well, using all caps would be at your discretion. The other exception is in regards to the visually impaired or those that have limitations on their typing ability. For example, if you were in a chat room that was for accessibility issues, you might expect that there would be people in the chat that would be able to read LARGE capital letters more easily. For someone that was typing with one hand hitting the "Shift" key in the middle of typing a train of thought would be a hindrance--though, it would be just as well for them to type in all small case and leave the cap lock off.

Unsolicited "junk" (bulk) email is obviously a plague on the Internet, some states have already passed legislation to make this an illegal act; other states are developing laws to deal with the matter. Don't be a SPAMMER. It's annoying, in some places illegal, and it wastes "bandwidth." (Spam and bandwidth will be explained in another FYI.)

Emails that tell you to "FORWARD THIS TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS!" are another "groaner." Most often these are in connection with a hoax or chain mail. The transmission of large emails (hoaxes, chain mail, or not) taxes the network and bogs down everyone's speed. I have seen some emails that have been forwarded so many times, with the addition of LARGE recipient lists, that the original message "truncates" (i.e. is in excess of what an email can hold). A large email, primarily a list of names and nothing else, serves no useful purpose anyway.

Resist the urge to forward, but if you must, be kind to others privacy. Forward using a Blind Courtesy Copy (BCC) convention in your email program. This prevents the spread of email addresses that the owners would rather remain private. Anyone receiving an email with all those names could be a mass mailing "Spammer" and you have just given them access to another valid email address to send Spam to.

"Hackers" will sometimes commit these things on purpose in order to crash an email server. But it is just as likely that a new user, that doesn't understand, could do this by accident.

Another faux pas is attached files.

On the one hand, large attached files can crash a users email program for extended length or time to download. Last week I was subjected to an email problem because someone sent me two overly large attachments (one 9MG and another 2.4MG). I had to contact my server and have them deleted--all the incoming email after that was inaccessible until the offending large files were dumped.

If you need to send a file attachment be kind and considerate. Check the file size and use appropriate methods to make the file smaller (such as shrinking-resizing a graphic or using a file compression program--ZIP or ARC for PCs or STUFFIT/SIT for MACS). It would also be wise to send individual attachments in separate emails rather that multiple attachments in a single email.

On the other hand, be VIRUS-smart. Check files with anti-virus software before you send or open files attached to email. Not doing so is tantamount to having a nasty cold and sneezing in the face of everyone you know! Sharing files with friends is fun and a benefit of being online, sharing a cold is not fun and takes time and money to get over. An anti-virus utility and Internet "hygiene" is just what the doctor ordered.

This touches the "highpoints" of Netiquette. To add to your accomplished manners and understanding I recommend you visit The Core Rules of Netiquette.



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Copyright 1997-2015 Joyce K. Meyer. All Rights Reserved
This site was created by Joyce K. Meyer, on October 26, 1997.
Last revised on 03/31/15.