Netiquette: Tech Talk Tuesday

What is Netiquette? Etiquette online is the short answer. The long answer is complicated, and in 13 months it will be revised enough to render this post obsolete. Don’t buy a book about netiquette, just listen to the chatter around you.

I sent out a Tweet asking what your pet peeve netiquette breech is and here are some of the responses.


It seems like there’s a theme in this. Conversations need to include both talking and listening.


Salutations: Starting an email without without a salutation is akin to starting a phone conversation without a hello. You wouldn’t start yammering into someone’s ear without a hello, would you?

Threads: It’s tempting to choose email options that will allow you to respond to an email without including the one that precipitated the response. If you aren’t a heavy email user it may seem like a good option. The problem is that if you are in a “conversation” with a heavy email use (like myself) your reply may be 400 messages down the list for me. There’s a very good chance that you message will be ignored, the other option is that you get this.

What are you referring to?

And you’ll be remembered as the person who is difficult to communicate with. If you want to make archiving mail and calling up threads simple I’d recommend Gmail.

Frequency: Only your mother needs to be reminded that you’ve updated your blog. If you want to use a little mashup and let Facebook and Twitter automatically update, that’s great. Don’t clog up inboxes with blog alerts, you’ll lose readers.

Reply/Reply All: When the soccer team is sent a group email asking for everyone to show up on Thursday at 4pm, but you can’t make it, you need to reply only to the sender of the email. Now, if there’s a potluck involved and you need to say what dish you’ll be bringing, reply all would be helpful so there aren’t 4 desserts and 3 cheese plates. I mean, what’s a get together without booze?

Capital Letters: When you write in all caps it’s hard on the eyes. PEOPLE FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SCREAMING AT THEM. Don’t do it, no, not even to your children.

Blogging and Comments:

Content and links: if you need to quote someone for more than a sentence or two, it’s probably best to just link to them and ask people to read their post. Taking more than a few words, well, it’s just taking.

Links: I will love you forever if you never send me to a site with audio. It bugs me, it bugs other people, if I wanted to hear voices I’d listen to the radio. I’m reading, ’nuff said.

Commenting: Volumes could be written about how to comment politely. When you think of a blog’s comment section, think of a little cocktail party. You’re really happy to be invited, you might be a little boozy or even a little slutty toward the end of the night, but someone will remember what you’ve said. So be nice, you’re in someone else’s house.

Comments and Links: There is some seriously tacky nonsense going on here. If you didn’t know before, you should know now that URLs (website addresses) do not go in the comments. Most blogs have a box where you can input your URL, this is the chance to let everyone know who you are. When you put your URL in body of the comment it’s more than just bad netiquette, you look desperate.

The most important bit of netiquette you’ll ever need to know. Be forgiving. I’m quite certain I’ve broken all these rules, and there’s a few I plan on breaking later today.

A special thanks to everyone who responded to my plea for input on Twitter:

I’d recommend following this group on twitter, because they share information and add to the conversation so nicely.

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