There are some basic pointers you should know if you want to be a good “netizen” and stay out of trouble:
- whom are you communicating with, what are you saying and how are you saying it? Make sure that what you say is appropriate, won’t result in flaming, and puts your best cyberfoot forward. The one thing you can count on is that everything you say online can come back to haunt you.
- Take 5!, put down the mouse and walk away from the computer before responding to something that upsets you online
- Review what you are saying from the perspective of the recipient…will they know you’re kidding? Does it need emoticons or “JK” (“just kidding”)?
- Follow the “Parry’s golden rule”- don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life!
- Don’t spread rumors, assist in cyberbullying or share private communications online.
- Get to know the rules before you say or do anything online. Some discussion boards. Games, social networks, Blog sites and chatrooms have special rules about what you can and can’t say or do. Since some people can be very critical to those who break the rules, knowing the rules first may save you lots of grief. (Most of the formal rules for a website are posted as “terms of service,” and can be found with the rest of the boring legal stuff at the bottom of the front page.)
- Don’t be critical of others, especially newbies (people who are new online and less experienced), even if they break the rules. If you need to help or correct someone, do it by e-mail or IM, not in a public forum like a chatroom, profile or game room. Remember, everyone was a newbie once.
- Don’t waste others’ time or bandwidth. Don’t send chain e-mail, pass along urban legends or hoaxes, or copy everyone you know on the latest joke. Copy only those who need to read something.
- Protect the privacy of others. Don’t openly list someone’s e-mail address in a large cc: without their permission. Instead, use a bcc: to protect their privacy. Don’t use anyone’s password without their permission. Don’t share personal things about them on your blog or website, or post their picture without their permission.
- Ask first! If someone sends you an e-mail or IM, don’t forward it without their okay. (That includes quoting things they said.)
- Your secrets and very personal information and those of your family and friends should stay just that – secret. It’s not smart to trust strangers you meet online with providing you with life advice. Would you stop a stranger on the street and follow their advice? It’s the same thing!
- Don’t take things without paying for them. This includes music, movies, games or software, or pretending that something built or written by someone else is yours.
¨ Using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS—it’s considered shouting and is hard on the eyes.
¨ Flaming—inciting or provoking an argument. Or saying mean or untrue things about another person.
¨ Posting false or rude information about someone else.
¨ Using someone’s cell phone or gaming account without their okay.
¨ Using someone’s password (even if they gave it to you) without their okay
¨ Sending a large attachment without asking if it’s okay first.
¨ Referring to someone by their real name online if they may want to remain anonymous in public.
¨ Talking about something off-topic in a special topic chatroom.
¨ Not waiting your turn or following the chatroom or network rules in a special online event.
¨ Posting a pic of someone without asking first.
¨ Giving out someone’s screen name or e-mail without their okay (think of it as giving out their cell number to someone without asking first).
These are all no-no’s. Remember that just because you’re hiding out behind your computer monitor, you aren’t exempt from being thoughtful and respectful of others. You are what you do online and off. It’s your reputation, your future and your world. Let’s make it friendlier, kinder and filled with RESPECT!