Know your Netiquette

The internet has leveled the playing field for large and small businesses alike. In order to make this platform work in your favour, there are important rules to follow. Netiquette is a combination of the words “network” or “internet” and “etiquette”, and it basically means good internet manners. In general, netiquette follows the same rules as the “real world” like being polite and respecting others, but there are a few other rules that you need to follow.

Don’t spam

Subject: FW: FW: FW: FW: Funny cat falls from tree! If you’ve ever received one of these mails, you know what a pain spam can be. Spamming is when someone/or a company sends you (and a hundred others) a message that you haven’t subscribed to. Most spam happens over emails, with a nearly 60% of all emails sent worldwide being spam. It’s also seen as spamming if someone uses online forums or chats to push their products or services, especially if it doesn’t have anything to do with the topic being discussed. So, only send bulk email messages (newsletters, sale emails etc.) if you have their permission to do so.

DON’T SCREAM

While using all caps might seem like a great way to emphasize a point, it could also be seen as very rude to the online community. Just like screaming during a conversation would be considered bad manners, typing a sentence in all caps is really bad netiquette. This idea goes back as far as 1984, when a user on the Usenet newsgroups explained: “if it's in caps I'm trying to YELL!”. Writing in all caps also makes it difficult to read, so it is best to avoid it as far as possible.

Use emoticons and emojis

Because most online messages aren’t not face-to-face, we can’t “hear” a tone of voice or “see” body language while communicating. This can make it easy to misinterpret the meaning behind the message. That is where emoticons and emojis come in. These symbols are an “emotional shorthand” to help you bring your message across more clearly. Emoticons are made up of keyboard characters to create a facial expression, and emojis are actual pictures.

A few examples:

While the jury is still out on whether or not it is fine to use emoticons and emojis in a professional situation, research has shown that professionals that use them are seen as more friendly and competent.

Don’t feed the trolls

Contrary to popular belief, online trolls are not named after the ugly creatures that live under bridges. They are called trolls because they “troll” like fishermen do – putting out bait to see who takes the hook. Trolls get their kicks out of derailing conversations and drawing people into arguments they can’t win. This can lead to flame wars where people (or companies) are attacked online through insults, name calling, and just plain nastiness. Trolling and flaming often happens in forums where controversial topics such as politics and religion are discussed, but it can happen anywhere online. The best way to deal with trolls is to take the high road and not allow yourself to be drawn into their negativity. If that doesn’t work, let the moderators know.

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