I have been using internet forums, Usenet, BBS and other text based communications systems for twenty-five years and I find that I'm still pretty bad at Netiquette on occasion. On the Clark County Chatter we see a wide variety of members some of which are very skilled with this kind of communication and others that are just learning. I thought this might be a good place to post some thoughts on Netiquette where we can all brush up on the subject a bit. Below are a few bullets on the subject, feel free to add to the thread with other helpful ideas that you have.
> Internet etiquette, or Netiquette, has its own set of rules, as any cyber Miss Manners will gleefully point out. When you join an online community forum, it's a good idea to mind your manners if you don't want offend others and incite troublemakers into giving you a hard time.
> Remember your face doesn't show. Words alone can convey sentiment, but without benefit of inflection or facial expression, they can be misconstrued. Use descriptive wording, emoticons or .gifs to ensure your meaning is clear. By the same token, don't jump to conclusions about another person's intent in posting an unclear comment. When in doubt, ask for clarification.
> Many people use forums for knowledge gathering as well as social interactions. Forum posts and threads can be read by hundreds or thousands of users, and as such it's important to read the topic of a particular discussion and keep your posts related to that topic.
> A troll is a person who breaks netiquette on a regular basis by posted inflammatory messages when responding to other users in the forums. Trolls are also users who will find older flame-filled threads on a forum and reply to them just to get users worked up again.
> When you type a post in all capital letters you are going to annoy other forum users. Capital letters are viewed as shouting when communicating online, and its considered rude to do.
> Avoid posting extremely long forum posts on a regular basis.
> Read all of the posts in the thread before posting on the internet forum. This will help forum participants avoid repeating points that have already been discussed in depth.
> Do not "hijack" forum threads. Stay on topic and avoid directing the thread away from the current line of conversation, particularly if the original poster is seeking an answer to a question. If you'd like to discuss a different issue or problem, it's best to start a new thread on the forum.
> Avoid derogatory remarks about fellow forum participants; if a forum participant has a problem that they'd like to address with another individual, it's best to discuss the issue off-forum rather than in a more public forum setting.
> Use emoticons and other symbols to indicate tone. When posting on an internet forum, there is an absence of indicators that help one to decipher tone and the forum poster's intention. In the absence of valuable voice tone, body language, facial expressions and other social cues, emoticons and symbols (smiley face, or "*smile*") can help make tone and intention clear to other forum participants.
> Very old threads are old for a reason, and that reason is that noone's interested in discussing that anymore. Unless you've got an outrageously good reason to do so, leave dead threads to rest in peace.
In the end, good forum etiquette will vary depending on the type of forum and purpose of the forum. By following the forum guidelines and basic forum and web etiquette, forum participants can enjoy effective and enjoyable exchanges on an internet forum.
Netiquette = Polite Internet Forum Etiquette
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