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How To: Netiquette and Smileys © R. Craig Collins, 2005

Netiquette is about not what you can do, but what you should do. The Core Rules of Netiquette were written by Virginia Shea, and discuss how you, as an Internet User, suddenly have a lot of power... and why you shouldn't let it go to your head!

Below are the 10 rules Virginia Shea developed, and my quick take on them. If you would like to read what she said, click here.

Rule 1: Remember the Human (you aren't dealing with machines, you are dealing with people who put information on machines; just because you can't see them doesn't mean they don't exist. All other rules relate to this one. Remember this Mantra: Treat others as you wish to be treated)

Rule 2: Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life (Don't hide behind the anonymity of a made up username, and forget everything you mother taught you! Behave on line as you would in the non-virtual world. Treat others as you wish to be treated)

Rule 3: Know where you are in cyberspace (It is illegal for people in Saudi Arabia to have pictures of bikini models... so don't email one there. You have to contend with import/export and local laws, as well as laws of places you visit electronically)

Rule 4: Respect other people's time and bandwidth (Every file you get uses someone's computer power, and takes up bandwidth, which they may have to pay for. Or listening to Internet radio instead of real radio could tie up bandwidth your company needs for e-mail. Just be aware of the implications. Treat others as you wish to be treated)

Rule 5: Make yourself look good online (Electronic communication lacks the nuances of body language and inflection, be sure of what you are communicating... look for double meanings, and use spell check!) More on this topic below...

Rule 6: Share expert knowledge (What makes the system work is the idea of 'you rub my back, I'll rub yours.' Treat others as you wish to be treated)

Rule 7: Help keep flame wars under control (If someone is an idiot, they deserve to know. Once. Don't swamp their mailbox with insults every day for the rest of your life. Treat others as you wish to be treated)

Rule 8: Respect other people's privacy (If you don't want folks looking in your medicine cabinet, return the favor. Treat others as you wish to be treated)

Rule 9: Don't abuse your power (You could look through other folks files, you could tie up their server, you could ruin their mail box... don't. Treat others as you wish to be treated)

Rule 10: Be forgiving of other people's mistakes (You will make mistakes. How do you want to find out about it? A flame, or a friendly hint? Treat others as you wish to be treated)

Smileys and trying to communicate with email

Many people retain information according to the following rates:
10% of what they read
20% of what they hear
30% of what they see
70% of what they see and hear...

The problem with email is that you have eliminated 90% of communication when you are stuck with just reading. To try and overcome this shortcoming, many people try to use emoticons or abbreviations.

Emoticons (Emotion Icons), or smileys, are keystrokes to represent your body language when sending a phrase. If someone in person asks me how a student is doing... reading 'just fine' has a completely different meaning than if I said it in person, and I rolled my eyes. So to try and convey a smile, a frown, etc. people use smileys.

To read a smiley, you have to turn your head 90° to the left.

So, :) Looks like

Some Programs, such as Microsoft Instant Messenger actually convert the keystrokes into pictures, to take away the guessing.

And guessing can be a problem, when people use non-standard, complex emoticons, such as (8u{)>. (That's me... but since it didn't convey anything until I said that, it is an example of how NOT to use them, as they don't help communication.

Many people will also use abbreviations and acronyms to try and improve communication. A lot of you know that LOL is laughing out loud, and that IMHO is In My Humble Opinion, but a lot of these also get to complex to be useful. It is so much easier to just say what you mean, re-read it for clarity, and then send it!

But just in case, here is a short list of common chat acronyms (or chaq, pronounced "chalk") :
BFT or ttfn, bye or tata for now
BRB, be right back
BTW, by the way
CWOT, complete waste of time
DIY, do it yourself
RTM, read the manual
A more detailed list is at http://www.sharpened.net/glossary/acronyms.php

Back to Rule 5.