Many of my clients inquired about
the proper way to conduct yourself on the internet when sending
or participating in online forums anddiscussion lists. I
have compiled this list. If there
is anything you feel I have left out please let me know as I
am always looking to improve it.
A few humble "Netiquette"
ORIGINAL MESSAGE when replying, so there is no question as
to what you are replying to (Most e-mail programs preferences
can be set to automatically include the previous note in your
reply, or simply (and preferably) select the relevant part of
the note with your mouse before clicking "Reply"). i.e.:
and 4 others>
Subject: Re: Meeting Options
I agree, we need to implement this
what?) By not including the previous note, only email@example.com
knows whom or what he is agreeing with; a real annoyance when
there are multiple replies, or more than one person replying
to a note with the same subject title. Would you mail a paper
letter with just: "I agree, we need to implement this", without
elaborating further? That is only acceptable in a live chat
room as an immediate response.
REPLY ON TOP. The reason for positioning your response to
someone's e-mail above theirs, then including their note or relevant
portions of their note is no one likes to scroll through stuff
already read to get to the new part , but it is there if they
need to glance at the previous note to remind themselves of the
subject matter (Most e-mail software preferences can be set to
automatically post your new note above the previous note).
THE INTERNET ADDRESS (URL) i.e.: http://somenewssource.net/story.html
as well as the copied text when quoting/sending a news story or
a web page. You can do so by selecting the whole URL (address)
with your mouse cursor in the "location/address" field of your
browser and doing a copy and paste of the URL into your e-mail
note. While its convenient to just cut and paste the entire story,
there are some points to consider:
a) It is arguably a violation
of copyright laws, and could create problems for anyone that would
like to post the item on their list or web site without having
a reference URL to obtain permission.
b) References to original
sources can only serve to make your note more credible.
with non HTML (text only) e-mail will not see the accompanying
photos, links, bold or color text, or any other formatting. What
they will see is allot of extra illegible text mixed in (HTML
tags), making the note hard to read (Also a common problem with
inferior and isolationist e-mail software like AOL that do not
work well with others).
SEND PLAIN TEXT e-mail unless it is necessary to use HTML,
or you know your recipient has and prefers HTML e-mail,
for the reasons stated above (ref. 3c).
Also DO NOT send text as attachments or attachments
unless absolutely necessary to do so. It is usually advisable
to send text only emails for 3 reasons:
1. Most people will not open attachments due to virus concerns.
2. Your recipients may not have the necessary software to see
3. Most recipients will find it annoying to have to launch a
separate program just to open a file and read text that you
sent in your email. Most programs will allow you to simply copy
and paste the text content into an email. It should be up to
not your readers to take the extra step. If you must open someone's
attachment - always check it with anti virus software prior
to opening. (Sending JPEG or GIF images is usually OK,
as most email software will display the image in the note
having to open the attached file) Golden rule of email
- Never open an attachment unless you know the sender, and they
verify that they actually sent it.
IN UPPER AND LOWER CASE as if you were writing a proper
letter on paper. Typing your note in all capital letters
on the net is
considered SCREAMING. It is OK to do individual words or even
a sentence you wish to draw attention to, or if you really
screaming (expect an equally rude reply), but not the whole note.
YOUR E-MAIL Most e-mail programs allow you to have from one
to unlimited signatures, with usually one chosen as the default
signature that automatically appears in your every note (easily
switched in every note). This is also proper etiquette just as
if you were writing a letter on paper, as firstname.lastname@example.org
means nothing to others not familiar with your e-mail account.
Your signature can vary from a simple: Sincerely, Your Name -
to a formal: Sincerely, Your Name, Title, Business and/or Organization
info. Most online eGroups allow you to create a profile where
you should at least put your name (some people prefer anonymity,
but the golden rule here is: make no statements that you would
not claim as your own).
YOUR E-MAIL by removing unnecessary text, headers, footers,
and especially long strings of e-mail addresses from previous
postings, so only pertinent information remains without having
to scroll through many lines of distracting text.
TIP: Save others from having
to look at, or delete your long email address lists when they
forward your notes, and at the same time keep the addresses secret,
as many people on your list may wish to remain private, and not
have you spread their email address all over the Internet -
open your email address book;
open the group and select: Don't show addresses when sending.
8. TITLE (Subject) should always reflect the message content. If the text
of your message does not match the title because you are changing
the topic or just using an older message to reply to rather then
create a new note and have to look up e-mail addresses, it confuses
your reader/s, especially if the message is forwarded to others
or used in a discussion group. It is even more confusing if the
previous topic is still being discussed under the same title as
your new topic. So please CHANGE the TITLE to fit the content.
do not forward Email Petitions, they are USELESS
and considered SPAM.
FACT 1: No one accepts or takes email petitions seriously, certainly not the
FACT 2: Real petitions that you sign by hand are by law considered null and void
if someone signs more then once. Now, consider how may repetitious signatures
email petitions have as well meaning, gullible people pass them on to their
FACT 3: A few email petitions are actually started by well meaning people ignorant
to petition rules, but many are from idiots that out of some stupid curiosity
they can sucker to sign and pass on as eventually they might see their petition
been around a while.
This of course does not apply to polls and petitions hosted on legitimate
sites (key word: legitimate), where multiple entries are controlled.
Sample of a legitimate Petition
Also, DO NOT FORWARD VIRUS ALERTS,
stories of missing children, etc., (most are hoaxes anyway),
unless you personally verify them on one of the many
available sites to make sure they are legitimate, or still
active (or you know the missing child). If you are not willing
to invest time to verify, then you should not invest time to
address and forward it as it really annoys your recipients
(in specific topic lists and eGroups only send if you personally
are infected and are trying to warn others who receive
your email, as there are thousands of real viruses out there
and reporting them could easily overtake the topic).
Some of the many Virus/Hoax and Urban
Legends reference sites:
SHALL NOT SPAM! For some reason paper junk mail is more
tolerable than junk e-mail, so unless you know the recipients,
to them (include reference: Mr. Smith of Jones Enterprises recommended...),
please do not send mass quantities of e-mail, or anything blindly
to e-mail addresses you collected from who knows what SPAM list
that annoyed you when you received it. Sure, many unscrupulous
businesses have made money using SPAM mailings. They do not care
if they are rude and annoy the masses, as long as they get a
percentage to respond, but do you want to be known for being
rude? What ever product, service or cause you are offering will
more harm then good with SPAM, and your reputation will suffer
for it (also, do not open or click links and attachments
in spam mail you receive, besides encouraging spam,
many are identity theft scams or viruses, trojan horses, etc.).
It is debatable as to who is the 2nd lowest form of life
net (virus creators and senders being the lowest); SPAMMERS or
CYBER SQUATTERS (those leeches who horde domain names they
no use for,
them to those that really need them, at of course a much higher
price). Nothing wrong with making a profit on a domain you own
and have no further use for, but please do not acquire domains
simply to prevent someone else from having them so you can extort
a much higher price.
CONCLUSION: The best strategy to
use for properly configured e-mail is simply: Treat your e-mail,
as if it was snail mail (paper letter sent via Post Office) with
similar format and courtesies. I hope you find these suggestions
Peter M. Jeremich
Illustrator / Webmaster http://Serb-Art.com
SERB-ART Graphic Arts, Web Design & Hosting Studio