This is a long one, but well worth reading. It provides some guidelines for posting messages and sending emails.
What you read below has been excerpted from the book Netiquette by Virginia Shea.
This has also been adapted from the Wabash College Digital Information System Website who writes this:
Adapted from "Core Rules of Netiquette" by Virginia Shea (Educom Review, Sept./Oct. 1994, p. 58-62)
Which was in turn excerpted from Netiquette by Virginia Shea, Albion Books, San Francisco, 1994
REMEMBER THE HUMAN
The golden rule your parents and your kindergarten teacher taught you was pretty simple: Do unto others as you'd have others do unto you. Imagine how you'd feel if you were in the other person's shoes. Stand up for yourself, but try not to hurt people's feelings.
When you communicate electronically, all you see is a computer screen. You don't have the opportunity to use facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice to communicate your meaning; words -- lonely written words -- are all you've got. And that goes for your correspondent as well.
When you're holding a conversation online -- whether it's an email exchange or a response to a discussion group posting -- it's easy to misinterpret your correspondent's meaning. And it's frighteningly easy to forget that your correspondent is a person with feelings more or less like your own.
It's ironic, really. Computer networks bring people together who'd otherwise never meet. But the impersonality of the medium changes that meeting to something less -- well, less personal. Humans exchanging email often behave the way some people behind the wheel of a car do: They curse at other drivers, make obscene gestures, and generally behave like savages. Most of them would never act that way at work or at home. But the interposition of the machine seems to make it acceptable.
The message of Netiquette is that it's not acceptable. Yes, use your network connections to express yourself freely, explore strange new worlds, and boldly go where you've never gone before. But remember the Prime Directive of Netiquette: Those are real people out there.
WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO THE PERSON'S FACE???
Guy proposes a useful test for anything you're about to post or mail: Ask yourself, "Would I say this to the person's face?" If the answer is no, rewrite and reread. Repeat the process till you feel sure that you'd feel as comfortable saying these words to the live person as you do sending them through cyberspace.
Of course, it's possible that you'd feel great about saying something extremely rude to the person's face. In that case, Netiquette can't help you. Go get a copy of Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior.
If someone sends you an e-mail message that strikes you as just a little too critical, or you read a message in a newsgroup that seems a little too offensive, chances are that you're misinterpreting the intent of the sender. Perhaps the message that you are taking so seriously was intended to be taken sarcastically--or perhaps you have stumbled upon a newsgroup where no-holds-barred messages are tolerated, or even expected. Either way, it does no good to pour fuel on the fire of what could potentially become a "flame war," where a few people engage in pointless verbal warfare, usually as the result of a misinterpreted message or an undiscriminating author.
Behave on-line as you would in person. Watch what you type and how you word potentially volatile statements. Assume that what you say will be taken in the worst possible way, and that if someone is upset enough by it, it will come back to haunt you.
LURK BEFORE YOU LEAP
When you enter a domain of cyberspace that's new to you, take a look around. Spend a while listening to the chat or reading the archives. Get a sense of how the people who are already there act. Then go ahead and participate.
Finally, after all this advice on how to project yourself, here's a little on how to receive others: first and foremost, be forgiving. Just as you are trying to balance your valuable time with a desire to get your point across as respectably as possible, so are others doing the same. Sometimes it's all-too-tempting to tear someone apart for an obvious grammatical error, misspelling, or blatant display of stupidity. What we must keep in mind, though, is that what we are reading is only one small piece of the person on the other end, who is typing away just like we are. Perhaps he was uninformed--or in a hurry--or simply made a mistake. Regardless, each person is deserving of more than one chance before judgment is passed. If someone initially strikes you as inept, allow him another opportunity to confirm your judgment. And if you can't suppress a response, a kind word or two of advice in a helpful tone will leave a much better impression than a verbal barrage will. Always give the benefit of the doubt, and be kind with criticism.
Here are some other suggestions:
1. If someone makes you angry, type a response, get it out of your system - but do not send it for at least 24 hours! Chances are, one of three things will happen. Either the whole thing will seem a whole lot less important the next day, you will have found a much nicer, more civil way of getting your point across, or you will simply decide that proving yourself right and the other person wrong just isn't worth it in the long run and decide not to send it at all. There will ALWAYS be disagreements!!! If we all agreed, life would be boring! It is how you respond to these disagreements that matters.
2. Type a response and send it to a trusted friend who is not a part of the broohaha. I do this all the time when I get emails from someone who makes me mad. I never respond to her personally, I just write a funny and blistering response and send it to my other, trusted friend - someone I trust implicitly and understands my frustration! It makes me feel better and no one gets hurt!
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