Digital Internet Security

Netiquette - Internet Ethics

Netiquette, Internet Ethics, Email Etiquette, call it what you want. These are important things in cyber space and not something you can ignore.
Conceptual keyboard
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, when he told me about these emails he had been sending out to colleagues and how one of them spoke to him and told him that they were not appreciated, that his jokes about blondes, women, and lawyers were not appropriate for office communication. This is when I realized that as 'modern' as we claim to be, not a lot of us are aware of netiquette.

So many of us throw this word around, but do we really know what it means. Well to get to the basics, it comes from a combination of network and etiquette. The Internet essentially is networking between various computers, so the etiquette or the conduct or decorum expected while using the Internet is netiquette. An interesting fact to know is that this term has been in use since 1988.

So, let's go back to cyber space and its culture, rules, and code of conduct. Yes, the cyberspace also has its own rules and regulations and in case of violation of netiquette, you can be in a lot of trouble, as there are laws out there that protect a person's space and privacy in the virtual world. Even if you are not in trouble with the law, you could end up offending someone without meaning to.

A Simple Guide to Netiquette
  • Remember that in spite of there being passwords to protect your privacy on the Internet, nothing is private, everything seen, forwarded, and received by you can be monitored by people and seen by people for whom it was never intended. So, while sending out emails or correspondence, official or otherwise, be cautious about what you send and what consequences it can have for you.
  • Company email is company property and hence not private. Anything you send or receive via the company is the property of the company and can be monitored and viewed by them, be extra careful here.
  • Never be offensive, racist, biased, libelous, or obscene on the Internet, be it via email or otherwise. Some jokes are just in bad taste and will not be appreciated.
  • Emails and the Internet is free of emotions and hence all communication can be interpreted. Use of emoticons, capital letters, and exclamatory marks can be interpreted as shouting or rude behavior, so avoid all such things in your communications unless otherwise intended.
  • Do not forward messages and email unless the sender and the receiver give you the go-ahead. Even when you are forwarding humor to colleagues, remember some may not appreciate it. Chain mails and forwards are a strict no-no.
  • Always give the receiver of your message some time to revert to you. There could be a technical problem or the person hasn't had the chance to read your mail. Be patient and never send a rude email following the first, for lack of response.
  • Sloppy emails with typographical errors or grammatical errors are not pleasing to the eye and certainly do not make a good impression. Always use spell check while sending out an official email.
  • Include the original message thread, so that the person knows in what context the reply was sent.
  • If you are sending an email to someone for the first time always include a subject line, if you do not, your email may be tagged as spam and could get you in trouble.
These are just some of the rules or code of ethics used on the Internet. The Internet is a large place to get lost in, and also a large place to get into trouble. Always make certain that your netiquette is up to the mark and no one has a chance to point a finger at you.