Netiquette Guidelines at KSU

When taking online or hybrid courses at KSU, students will often be in a position where they will need to electronically correspond with their classmate or their instructor. These guidelines will help you in using the etiquette that is expected of you in an online class.

So What is Netiquette?

According to The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition,

Etiquette 1c. The conventional rules of personal behaviour observed in the intercourse of polite society; the ceremonial observances prescribed by such rules. 1d. The unwritten code of honour by which members of certain professions (esp. the medical and legal) are prohibited from doing certain things deemed likely to injure the interests of their brethren, or to lower the dignity of the professional.

Netiquette is the practice of applying these conventional rules of communication on the internet, especially in a professional setting.

Mike Markel's Technical Communication, Tenth Edition outlines netiquette in a workplace setting as:

Following Netiquette

When you write e-mail in the workplace, adhere to the following netiquette guidelines. Netiquette refers to etiquette on a network.

  • Stick to business. Don't send jokes or other nonbusiness messages.
  • Don't waste bandwidth. Keep the message brief. When you reply to another e-mail, don't quote long passages from it. Instead, establish the context of the original e-mail by paraphrasing it briefly or by including a short quotations from it. When you quote, delete the routing information from the top as well as the signature block from the bottom. And make sure to send the e-mail only to people who need to read it.
  • Use appropriate formality. ...avoid informal writing [see section below on appropriate formality].
  • Write correctly. ...remember to revise, edit, and proofread your e-mails before sending them.
  • Don't flame. To flame is to scorch a reader with scathing criticism, usually in response to something that person wrote in a previous message. When you are angry, keep your hands away from the keyboard.
  • Make your message easy on the eyes. Use uppercase and lowercase letters, and skip lines between paragraphs. Use uppercase letters (sparingly) for emphasis. Keep the line length under 65 characters so that the lines aren't broken awkwardly if the recipient's monitor has a small screen.
  • Don't forward a message to an online discussion forum without the writer's permission. Doing so is unethical and illegal; the e-mail is the intellectual property of the writer or (if it was wirtten as part of the writer's work responsibilities) the writer's company.
  • Don't send a message unless you have something to say. If you can add something new, do so, but don't send a message just to be part of the conversation.

(Markel 388-9)

Appropriate Formality

According to Markel,

"People are sometimes tempted to use informal writing in informal digital applications such as e-mail and microblogs. Don't. Remember that everything you write on the job is legally the property of the organization for which you work, and messages are almost always archived digitally, even after recipients have deleted them. Remember, too, that they might be read by the company president, or they might appear in a newspaper or in a court of law. Therefore, use a moderately formal tone to avoid potential embarrassment."

For example:

TOO INFORMAL -- Our meeting with the United went south right away when they threw a hissy fit, saying that we blew off the deadline for the progress report.

MODERATELY FORMAL -- In our meeting, the United representative expressed concern that we had missed the deadline for the progress report.

However, you don't want to sound like a dictionary.

TOO FORMAL -- It was indubitably the case that our team was successful in presenting a proposal that was characterized by the quality of the highest order. My appreciation for your industriousness is herewith extended.

MODERATELY FORMAL -- I think we put together an excellent proposal. Thank you very much for your hard work.

(Markel 373)

Works Cited

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication: Tenth Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012. Print.

Created by Tiffani Reardon, June 2014; Redesigned by Tiffani Reardon, 2015