Internet etiquette, or "netiquette" as it is frequently called, is a complex and dynamic phenomenon. The same features that make e-mail a unique channel of communication have also raised new questions concerning what is and isn't good manners.

Electronic text allows one to copy, forward, reply, and send messages to multiple recipients quickly and easily. Because these activities are possible with such minimal effort, people often forget to proofread their work, or consider who will actually read the message. It is not uncommon for the sender to regret clicking on the "send" button so soon. Read Katie Hafner's article for more examples of e-mail mishaps and the controversy surrounding certain e-mail functions. Lawrence Magid discusses some of these issues as they relate to instant messaging.

Some people fall into the habit of writing their messages in all capital letters, unaware that this is known as shouting among the netiquette-minded. While doing this may elicit a response of PDS (please don't shout), it is unlikely to result in the expulsion from a chat room or from one's Internet service provider. Use of objectionable language, however, is grounds for removal from some areas of cyberspace. Read Susan Aschoff's article for more information.

Under certain conditions, rude and insulting e-mail is acceptable, mainly in chat rooms. This is a long-standing tradition known as flaming, and as long as it remains under control, it can be an entertaining and stimulating experience for participants. Virginia Shea's book provides a good overview of netiquette, including flaming and other Internet behaviors.

Further Reading

Last modified: 15 December 1999
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