When you’re new to the internet, it’s difficult to know what you should and shouldn’t do. In our daily lives the rules of etiquette are a little easier to understand; after all we deal with them each and everyday. However, the internet may seem a whole different world to someone just starting out.

If you’re new to the nets, we have some great netiquette tips to help you navigate your way through this whole new experience.

#1 – Don’t use all caps. Have you ever seen someone TYPE LIKE THIS, or perhaps you’ve done it yourself? On the net, typing in all capitals equates to shouting. Which means you probably won’t want to type in this manner unless you really do intend to shout at someone – avoid all capitals otherwise.

#2 – Introduce yourself. If you’re new to a forum, it’s proper netiquette to first introduce yourself before jumping into the conversation. This is probably the same thing you would do if you were at a party or meeting someone for the first time. Log into the forum and briefly introduce yourself. This isn’t really the time to give your whole life story. Just tell people a little about yourself and what you’d like to contribute to the forum. Keep it upbeat and light and you’ll make a great first impression.

Once you’ve done that, slowly start contributing your thoughts and insights. Do take care though; no one likes a know-it-all and you certainly don’t want to go in “all guns blazing” as you may offend more regular members of the forum. Slow and steady is a great pace to progress in; with time you can contribute more and more.

#3 – Use emotion text. When you say something online it’s not the same as saying it offline. If people can’t see your body gestures, things can often get misconstrued and read the wrong way. You can avoid this by adding a little emotion to your writing.

Use those ever-popular emoticons (though proceed with caution, more on that later) and add expression to your writing. You can do this by using italics or bolding certain words. You can also add a little humor at the end of certain messages and a few positive comments along the way. These “positives” will replace your body language and stop your message from appearing dry or tactless.

#4 – Don’t overdo it. Using tons of smiley faces or exclamation marks, capitals, bold, etc. may make you appear scattered and a little over the top at times. You wouldn’t want to appear like this at a party – imagine someone saying everything in an overly excited way or shouting and jumping around with a huge grin on their face – you certainly would make a certain impression of this person, right?

If you write like this online, you’ll appear just like that person. Avoid using too many exclamation points or emotional writing in one message. The trick is to add a dash of emotion here and there to avoid appearing over the top.

It’s also important to think about what you’d like to say before you say it. Try to keep your messages brief and your sentences short and to the point. A long, drawn out message is difficult to read and understand – particularly as you don’t have the body language to go along with it.

#5 – Give as much as you take. This is another very common-sense rule to life and it also applies on the net. Don’t abuse a forum by constantly dropping in and asking questions or telling people about your website at all times. Sure, you can do all of these things but in a moderate way. Take the time to answer other people’s questions or to contribute a few nuggets of your own wisdom to the group. And above all, remember to treat people like you’d like to be treated.

Even though the rules of the net may seem foreign when you’re just starting out, it’s a matter of common sense. You’re a nice, polite person in your everyday life so simply extend that to the internet. Stick to being polite, kind, helpful and friendly and people will be drawn to you and you may make some great friendships and business acquaintances.

Netiquette Tips
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