We use the internet to do a lot, for work, business, fun and life. Spending so much time online should prompt us to consider best practices for good net citizens. Let’s call them 'Internet Etiquette'. Our list isn’t exhaustive, but we humbly offer a few that could make your online life easier:
1. Be respectful – As in face-to-face situations, you should always be respectful of other people’s opinions, especially when they aren’t aligned with yours. Remember, what you send to someone over the internet is going to another human being. Be as polite as you are in person. Address the recipient appropriately, and follow the rules of the online platform.
2. Watch your tone – When using text-only tone can easily be misconstrued. Read and edit your messages for clarity and purpose. The use of one wrong or ambiguous word or the way you phrase something can get you in trouble. If you use patois please consider all the implications of a word or phrase.
3. Grammar and Spelling matters – With all the spell and grammar checks on most online platforms there is almost no reason to send a poor sentence or a misspelt word. Dot your ‘i’s and cross those ‘t’s so you aren’t seen as a sloppy writer or thinker.
4. Be careful with humour and sarcasm – By all means, display your wit and humour, but be careful when doing so. Even the use of emoticons can spell trouble if you don’t match them to the message and the person. Ditto for any strong language.
5. Be accurate and factual – Be clear and to the point. Stay on topic and fact-check data you want to share. Reference your sources so those who you are messaging see it is credible and they can feel safe getting into fruitful discussions about the topic.
6. Mind your privacy – Don’t post or share inappropriate material, even in private. Nothing is really private once it reaches the internet. So, share only what won’t embarrass you.