New Netiquette?

I've been a bit more reflective on life in general as well as life online lately: the evolution of how my career came to be, where my colleagues are and the paths they have taken to get there, who's still around, who disappeared off the online landscape and the fun we are beginning to have again. Online life was a tad stale to me for a while. Say what you want about the new Internet, but its stirred things up a bit. Be it social network blogs and microblogs, photo-sharing sites, video, etc. it's fun and addictive (almost too addictive). It's also a major pain in the butt. We can be accessed in just about every way -- through multiple devices be it email on a machine or mobile, SMS, GPS, etc. I admit I love to hate it. But it's kept me passionate about what I do for a living (and gainfully employed, thank goodness). And it always keeps me scratching my head.


For years I have been writing about Netiquette. To me the best source is a book by Virginia Shea called "Netiquette" and a foreword by Guy Kawasaki. The book has a copyright that is 14 years old but sure does have a shelf life. So Ms. Shea (with whom I don't know), if I may...I'd like to share your fodder, expand on it and get our readers to think of the evolution of Netiquette. Here are her cores rules (in bold):



Rule 1: Remember the human. This to me is one of the core rules. Communicating online, it is oftentimes difficult to determine tone, context, etc. Good ole in person communication is straightforward; online of course isn't.

Rule 2: Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life. There is a lot to say on this one. Think of the laws you abide by offline. Do you act the same online? Most don't. Take ripping off music and illegally downloading movies for instance.

Rule 3: Know where you are in cyberspace. It might make best sense to watch the conversation(s) before participating if you haven't been to a forum or environment before. I think it's safe to say that if you are reading this column you are probably an early participator in most of these environments. And if so, you've probably made this mistake at least once. I know I have, eek. (BTW it makes me laugh a bit that the word "cyberspace" was widely used when the book was written. Seems so long ago.)

Rule 4: Respect other people's time and bandwidth. Have common sense; don't drag something out unnecessarily. I see this all the time in corporate emails back and forth. As far as the bandwidth thing, it still applies -- but in much more of a minor way than when the book was written. I guess my modern take on it would be when people email me scads of info and attachments knowing I'm traveling and getting my email on my Blackberry.

Rule 5: Make yourself look good online. As it applies to this book, content is king. However, new rules apply when it comes to the video-laden Net we seem to have today. Don't be like some students I've seen doing shot after shot of Tequila, dancing around promiscuously, puking all over the place, then passing out and having it posted on YouTube. Duh, hello clueless.

I can also take this in a whole different direction, to get touchy. If you are in the generation where online dating sites are nomenclature, you should know how to behave: don't lie, embellish, say you are "new to the online dating scene" when everyone has seen you out there for years -- and most of all, don't post pictures that absolutely positively don't look like you. I know, don't shoot the messenger -- but people are visually attracted to one another. If you are a guy and the bulk of your pics are in a tux from your best bud's wedding, chances are you look a heck of a lot different in a pair of jeans. Or maybe you have your golf photos all posed with a hat on and you are bald. I'm not saying bald, necessarily -- but if you are investing time online wanting to find a "match," then be legit. And, girls -- oh boy, I could go on and on -- what's up with looking like you are a pole dancer? Don't you realize what you'll attract? Oh, maybe that's the plan. I'll stop on this one.

Rule 6: Share expert knowledge. To me this has evolved into one of the mot positive rules. I feel as if most do this. I know lots of you do, even in comments within our forum. You have given me many tips, trucks, links and resources. I am thankful and look forward to it weekly. Who the heck wants a one-way conversation, anyway?

The next four are more than obvious and I don't want to eat up my word count. However, I would like to get this conversation going and write another piece on this soon:

Rule 7: Help keep flame wars under control.

Rule 8: Respect other people's privacy.

Rule 9: Don't abuse your power.

Rule 10: Be forgiving of other people's mistakes.

There's also the top ten things I hate that people do online. More on that later, but feel free to get started...

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