Netiquette and Quick Tip #1 (Online Group Projects)

Netiquette – or etiquette on the web – is a set of standards that regulate how we communicate with one another online. Unlike real life in which there are general societal constructs in place to keep us civil, the rapid expansion of the Internet and its users has created a place in which expression is unlimited and generally un-hindered. This is why netiquette is so important: we must re-teach individuals how to treat us – and therefore how we would like to be treated.

From my studies in communication technology, I can tell you that almost every non-visual cue that occurs in live conversation also manifests itself in digital text. With that being said, not everyone overanalyzes every word you write, however there are a number of solid guidelines to follow. For example, using emoticons to express tone (good) as opposed to using “all caps” to express loud anger or excitement (bad). Although it would seem that the goal is to represent yourself online – because of the ambiguity of text – your digital self must remain more guarded then your real self. Using sarcasm, slang or idioms may be your style – but it can sometimes be confusing and send the wrong signals if not used carefully.

To practice good netiquette, you must know the general rules of the forum from within you’re communicating. Emails to professionals should be written like you would a finely worded letter, while ongoing discussions are generally your own personal thoughts – so more personal flavor is acceptable. Your comments on blogs and other news sites should reflect the overall tone and formality of the site based on that of your commenting peers and the actual creator of the work.

Quick Tip (#1) Online Group Projects

When working with a group on a project that’s mostly digitally based (generally because of physical constraints on your ability to meet), here are some helpful tips:

  1. Immediately clarify project requirements, group roles and preferred communication methods
  2. Although it can seem tedious and a waste of time, sometimes establishing at least a little interpersonal context can go a long way in helping your group “mojo”.
  3. Use the tools and resources available to you. Texting, chat rooms, wikis, Google docs – it’s the 21st century! Properly using the resources at your disposal saves time and unneeded headaches.

2 thoughts on “Netiquette and Quick Tip #1 (Online Group Projects)

  1. Your first paragraph seems to say that the “golden rule” applies even in Internet communications. I completely agree. I am interested in hearing how certain nonvisual clues in communication manifest themselves in digital communications. For example, if I were to wave my hands excitedly when telling a story to a person face-to-face, how would I communicate that digitally (if the video were not involved and only text were used)?

    I agree with your thoughts on maintaining a consistent tone in your responses to the blogs of others. Based on your communication style in this initial post, my guess is that you have no trouble with good written communication to peers and professors.

  2. To answer your question Joni, we’d need to take a good look at the context of the situation. If you would have “waved your hands excitedly” when telling the story to this person, my guess is the tone is informal and they’re probably a close acquaintance or good friend. Therefore (if it’s your style) I would suggest implementing emoticons in order to express your excited notion. Depending on what platform you’re using to communicate, there are a plethora of options.

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