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CPTC Library/Learning Resource Center: Digital Citizenship / Netiquette

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What is "Netiquette" or "Digital Citizenship"?


Netiquette is a term that refers to etiquette and rules for behaving properly online.  You may also be familiar with the term "digital citizenship."  As more communication takes place online, it is important that people know the proper way to communicate online. There are some basic rules of netiquette which are outlined below.

Keep the Human Aspect in Mind

When communicating electronically it is important to remember that what you write will be read by real people who deserve to be communicated with in a respectful manner. When online, a good rule to follow is to never write anything that you wouldn't want written about yourself.

Behave as You Would in Real Life

Many people will argue that in the virtual world, standards of behavior are different but you should adhere to the standards of behavior that you would in real life. You should always try to act within the ethics and laws of society when online.

Know Where You Are

Netiquette rules can vary when you are in the virtual world. What might be acceptable communication on one domain may be considered inappropriate on another. For instance, you might email an inappropriate joke to a friend but not a colleague.

Respect Others' Time

Most people lead busy lives and don't necessarily have time to read articles or respond to silly emails. You should always aim to not waste people's time when communicating with them online by making your communication to the point and meaningful. You may also want to avoid adding any fancy graphics or attachments that may take a long time to download.

Try to Look Good Online

In the virtual world, if you choose not to post pictures, you cannot be judged by your looks but instead will be judged by the quality of your written communications. When communicating online, you should always state information clearly, check spelling and grammar, and always be polite.

Respect the Privacy of Others

People usually try to protect their personal information online but at times you may be exposed to private information and it should be handled with care. Just as you would expect people to respect your privacy it is important to respect others privacy.

Forgive People

Not everyone is aware of netiquette and some people may have less experience in a virtual environment. Try to let things like minor spelling errors, silly questions, and other minor mistakes slide. If you feel it necessary to respond to a mistake, you should do so in private as opposed to in a public forum.

Netiquette is all about treating others in the virtual world with the same respect that you hope to be shown. When people follow netiquette rules, it allows for more pleasant communications.