Online Etiquette Guide

Welcome to the world of online course spaces! Whether your courses are held face-to-face or entirely online, you’ll probably be asked to participate with other students and communicate with your instructor online. Online learning is the same as any other social interaction, and as such, it has its own rules for interacting with others. This guide is intended to be an overview of appropriate etiquette for interaction in this online environment.

Respect others and their opinions. In online learning, students from very different backgrounds come together to learn. It is important to respect their feelings and opinions even when they are quite different from your own.

Watch your language and tone carefully. When you are communicating online, you have to rely solely on words to get your point across. The other person cannot see your facial expression or hear your tone of voice, so things like sarcasm and humor often don't come across very well. That's why its important to take your time, choose your words carefully, and be as straightforward as you can.

Consider people's privacy. Always ask for permission before you forward someones email messages to somebody else, and if you do reuse another person's words (with their permission), make sure to acknowledge them appropriately. Keep in mind that all private email mail is considered copyrighted by the original author.

Avoid inappropriate material. Its tempting to forward messages you find clever or links to websites you find entertaining to classmates. If they are not directly relevant to the course please don't do this, especially if the material is sexually suggestive, politically sensitive, or otherwise edgy. Same goes for frivolous joke emails and chain messages. This is not the place for it.

Be forgiving. If someone writes something that you find offensive, mention it directly to the instructor. He or she is best equipped to address the situation. Remember that the person contributing to the discussion might be new to this form of communication. What you find offensive may have been unintended.

Be concise. When you are contributing to a discussion, be as brief as you can to get your point across. Adding a lot of unnecessary words just makes your message less clear. Try to stick to the point and not go off on irrelevant tangents.

Read first, write later. Don't add your comments to a discussion before reading the comments that are already there. And if you are responding to a previous comment, always make clear which comment you are responding to.

DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS OR USE EXCESSIVE PUNCTUATION!!!!!!! Most people find this annoying and you may not be communicating your thoughts effectively.

Think before you hit the send button. Learning to be your own editor is a difficult and important skill. Think carefully about the content of your message before you send or post it. Once you push the button, there is no taking it back. Grammar and spelling errors reflect badly on you, and misspelled words or poorly constructed sentences can make it hard to decipher your meaning accurately.

(borrowed from