How To

How To: Online etiquette

Let’s be honest. When it comes to communicating online, it’s easy for things to be misinterpreted.

In the absence of the social cues, tone of voice and body language that we use in face-to-face interactions, great care is needed not to send the wrong message to those we are talking to.

Here’s a few tips to help keep things friendly and civil as you explore the web and social media sites.

  1. Follow the same standards of behaviour as you would in the real world. Just because you can’t see the people you’re talking to online it doesn’t mean you should lower your standards of conduct. Be polite and ethical and expect the same in return.
  2. Be respectful of others. We all have different stories, values and world views. Re-read the things you write before you send them or hit post. Make sure you are comfortable with your message and think about how others with different perspectives will read it too.
  3. Grammar and spelling matter. In a quick text message abbreviations and slang are fine, but generally it is good practice to try to maintain a higher standard of communication in other interactions, especially with people you don’t know. Don’t forget to use the occasional full point or comma and remember that just because you know what a certain abbreviation means, it doesn’t mean everyone else will too.
  4. Respect the privacy of other people. Don’t share material involving anyone’s personal information and activities without their permission. And if it looks inappropriate, don’t get involved.
  5. Always cite the source of material you share. Artists and writers have a copyright over their creative work - even if they post it online. If nothing else, it is polite to always acknowledge the original source of that clever piece of writing or stunning artwork you come across and share.
  6. Be forgiving. Remember that at the end of the day, we are all human. Each of us with different opinions and experiences. We may not always get things right when it comes to communicating and sharing online, but we can apologise when we get it wrong, forgive each other and learn from our experiences.

Enjoy your experience online. There is a whole world of information and inspiration to discover, and the potential to connect with people across the world is unprecedented. We just need to remember to treat others with the same respect as we would in the physical world and think twice before we post anything.

This how to guide uses information collected from: