To get the most out of forums and chat rooms, it's a good idea to observe some niceties. These guidelines apply whether you are using social networks, chat-rooms, forums, e-mail, blogs or newsgroups.
- Before you post read any rules or guidelines that apply to the platform you are on.
- Keep your messages to the point and help keep discussions organised by adding to a relevant thread
- Using all capitals is hard to read, and it's seen as SHOUTING! You can emphasise a point by using *Asterisks*.
- If you use a signature, keep it -- short.
- Be careful when using sarcasm and humour. It can easily be misunderstood as a personal attack. If you are being humorous, try to include smilies in your messages to express such humour. They are very useful for letting people know that your comment is friendly. :-)
- If you are responding to a particular person address your post to them. You can often use @ and then the person's name, e.g. @ Lynne.
- If you are replying to a particular message, quote only what is necessary (delete the rest) and make it clear that it's a quote, e.g. "make it clear that it's a quote".
- If you need to include a date, spell out the month to avoid confusion and write the year in full, e.g. 10 Nov 2008, or Nov 10 2008.
- Don't be in too much of a hurry. Spell check your message before clicking "Post" and try to proofread for other errors.
- Do not post abusive messages, even if you don't agree with what someone has said, even if they have been abusive or rude. Such attacks are known as 'flame wars', 'flaming' or being 'flamed'. It's not constructive and you're not likely to convince anyone to change their mind, so just move on.
- Avoid posting in anger, stop and take a break, make a nice cup of tea, maybe a milder message would be more effective. Think about what you have written before you post it.
- If you absolutely have to disagree, do so politely. You should be sensitive to the feelings and opinions of others. So, attack the argument, not the author. It's the world wide web, so respect other's opinions.
- Try to behave as you would in a face to face situation with a large angry policeman who's carrying a gun, if that doesn't work, just don't say anything you wouldn't say to your mum.
- Be tolerant of other people's mistakes. Not everybody knows the rules of netiquette, not everyone is posting in their native language, so don't get annoyed with them.
- Once you're well established in a forum, give a warm welcome to new 'faces'. We were all newbies once.
- If you meet someone who doesn't seem to know the niceties, send them here. :-)
If you want to know more there's an excellent Netiquette guide free online here.