How To: Follow proper netiquette rules

Follow proper netiquette rules

Learn how to follow proper netiquette rules. You may be a model of decorum in person, but a bonehead online. Check out how much you know about Internet manners.

Step 1. Be clear

Be clear in your e-mails and text messages. Don't include acronyms unless you're sure the recipient will understand them.

Step 2. Attach with care

If you're sending an attachment, make sure it's compatible with the recipient's software. If it's larger than 5 megabytes, compress it before sending.

Step 3. Respect people's privacy

When you send group e-mails, respect people's privacy by typing the addresses into the BCC – or blind carbon copy – field; this prevents recipients from seeing that anyone else was copied on the email.

Step 4. Fill them in

Fill in the subject line. It only takes a second, and it provides your recipient with useful information that can help them track the e-mail in the future.

Step 5. Be sensitive

Don't tag pictures of other people on social-networking sites if they've previously asked you not to, and don't discuss anyone's private business – no matter how harmless you think it is – on people's walls or anywhere on their profiles where others can view it.

Step 6. Think before you IM

Think before you send an instant message to someone. It's meant for brief, swift exchanges.

Step 7. "Lurk" before you leap

Don't contribute to boards until you've "lurked" – that is, read what's already been written, so you can get a sense of what's appropriate before you join in.

Step 8. Refrain from "flaming"

On discussion boards, refrain from "flaming" people – disagreeing with them in a gratuitously nasty manner.

FACT: In 1982, a Carnegie Mellon professor invented the smiley-face emoticon – a colon, hyphen, and closed parenthesis – after humorous postings on electronic bulletin boards were mistakenly being taken seriously.

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