Etiquette vs. Netiquette

Etiquette: the rules governing the proper way to behave
Netiquette: the rules governing the proper way to behave on the Internet

Question: Is this little guy using proper netiquette wearing a suit and tie while surfing the Internet?

Answer: No, proper dress has nothing to do with online etiquette.

Click on the KidSMART Quiz on the left. How many of their questions can you answer before you go to their website?

Now visit the site pictured below.

Be Kidsmart on the web!

Here are some tips for kids from Kaboose:

Internet etiquette, or netiquette guides us in proper behavior on the Internet. There are widely accepted rules of behavior to follow when you're online. It is very important to learn and follow these rules.

Sometimes the online world can feel "pretend" because you cannot see the person who you are talking to. So, it is very important to remember that you are dealing with "real" people online and you should use your very best manners - just as you would at home or at school.

As a newbie (someone new to the Internet) you should become familiar with the acceptable rules of Internet behavior. Here are a some tips that can help you become a responsible Netizen.

Do unto others, as you'd have others do unto you. Be polite and courteous at all times. Remember that you're not communicating with a computer screen, but with a human being who has thoughts and feelings just like you. So, always think of the person on the receiving end of your messages.

Do not TYPE ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis. IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING. If you need to emphasize a word, use asterisks, like *this* or lines, like _this_.

Remember that the written word is hard to interpret. When you speak to someone, that person can hear the tone of your voice. If they can see you, they can take visual clues from your face and body to better understand your meaning. All of this is lost in text, and sometimes responses can come across as mean or rude, even when you did not intend them this way. This is the reason some people use emoticons (visual clues) in their e-mails, it saves a lot of confusion.

Be careful not to use rude or bad language online. Many providers will terminate your account.

Don't break any laws. When you're on the net, follow the same rules of behavior that you would in real life. Remember, if it is against the law in the real world, it is against the law in cyberspace.

Be universal. Other users have different Web browsers, different online services, different e-mail programs etc. So don't, for example, send out e-mail with text formatting -- boldface, italics, indentations, etc. -- because many other programs will not be able to read the formatting and the recipients will receive your e-mail filled with muddled codes.

Be brief whenever possible. No one wants to read through a lot of unnecessary information. If you are replying to an e-mail, try editing out unimportant information and anything that is repeated.

Don't flame. Do not send rude or offensive e-mails or postings. It's bad manners and can get seriously out of hand (flame wars). So don't flame others and if you are flamed, do not respond: you will never win. If you are flamed in a forum or chat room, or if you receive hateful e-mail, let your parents or teachers know.

Always identify yourself. If your parents require you to use an online name instead of your real one, that's fine - use your online name consistently. Never send e-mail without including your name at the bottom of the e-mail. Similarly, don't post forum messages without identifying yourself, this is seen as rude.

Make a good impression. Remember that the written word is the only way you can represent yourself online, so spelling and grammar count. If you are going to be writing a large amount of text for other people to see, make sure you break it up using paragraphs, it will make it easier on the eye for those that will read it.

Be patient with newcomers. Once you have become an Internet expert, it is easy to forget that you started out as a newbie too. Learning the rules of cyberspace is much like learning a new language; it takes practice, and includes making mistakes. So if you come across someone else's mistakes on the net, don't put them down, just politely point them in the right direction for guidance (send them a copy of these rules to get them started on their way!).

Things to remember about your e-mail account:

  • Check e-mail regularly... so you can respond quickly
  • Delete messages after you read them... frees up storage space for more productive use
  • Don't send confidential information in your mail... others may be able to read/access it
  • Don't be hasty when you send... if you write a message when you're upset, wait before you send it
  • Respect the privacy of others... don't share someone's email address without their permission
  • Always fill in the subject box so people can see what the mail concerns
  • Don't send chain letters... they're as annoying on the internet as they are in real life

Things to remember when participating in a discussion group:

  • Before asking or responding in a newsgroup, take the time to feel the group out
  • Stick to the topic of the discussion group
  • When quoting someone, use only the portion of the quote that is absolutely necessary
  • Avoid "flame wars"
  • Don't send personal messages to an entire newsgroup, use e-mail

Revised from "A Guide to Etiquette on the Net", contributed by Maria Georgiou

Here are some tips about netiquette for kids from the
Boston Public Library Kids' Page:

1. Avoid hurting someone's feelings with e-mail.
Sometimes, online, people can't tell that you are joking. When you write an e-mail message, make sure the person you're sending it to will know whether you are happy, sad, angry, joking, etc. You can do this by using smileys, such as :), or :(, ..and so on.
Remember, when you are talking to someone on the telephone it is easy to know whether they are happy or sad by the tone of their voice. When you are sending a message whether by e-mail or letter, it is hard to show an emotion
2. Respect other people's online rights.
People on the Internet have rights just as they do in everyday life. If someone sends you a threatening letter, or makes crank phone calls to your house, it can be annoying and sometimes very scary. The same is true on the Internet. If someone sends you e-mail which threatens you or makes you feel uncomfortable, talk to a parent or other adult right away.
3. Avoid insulting someone unless you want to start a flame war.
A flame war is when angry people try to punish each other with e-mail. Sometimes this can be done by sending so many messages that a mailbox gets jammed, and sometimes this is done by sending a few very nasty messages meant to hurt someone's feelings. If you insult someone with e-mail, they will probably get angry just as they would if you insulted them face to face.
4. If someone insults you, be calm.
Starting a flame war is serious business on the Net. Even if you are angry with someone, you don't need to take things any further. Try being calm, ignoring the message, or sending a polite message asking for them to explain what they meant. It may have been a misunderstanding.
5. Avoid "crashing" discussion groups or forums.
People on the Net frequently get together online to talk about things they may have in common. This can be done on a listserv, a bulletin board, a chat group, etc. If you join the discussion just for the fun of "crashing" it, or ruining it, people will definitely get angry. Don't be a bully!
6. Respect the privacy of other people.
If someone tells you something secret, it should be kept secret. This includes passwords, full names, addresses, or interests. Sharing your own password with someone else, even someone you like, is never a good idea. Passwords and personal information are private, and are never safe to share with others.
7. Be responsible online.
When you are at the computer, you are in control. Avoid using the computer to harm other people. Taking things which are not yours (such as files, passwords, or credit card numbers), spreading rumors about other people online, and infecting other computers with viruses (on purpose) are examples of harming other people online.
8. Help other people learn more about the Net.
Chances are someone else taught you a lot of what you know about the Internet. The Net is growing quickly, and it's difficult to keep up. Other kids, or even your parents and teachers, may need help understanding what it's all about. Try to help them if you can. Who knows? They might show you a thing or two someday!

To avoid too much typing, some people use abbreviations of familiar phrases. They usually use the first letter of each word. Do you know any other shortcuts? Add them to the bottom.


As soon as possible


Just a minute


Be back later


Just a second


Be right back


Laughing out loud


By the way


Oh, I see


See you later


On the other hand


Face to face


Over the top


Free of charge


Rolling on the floor laughing


Great minds think alike


Are you OK?


In other words


Thanks in advance


Just kidding


Ta Ta for now