Mastering the ART of Netiquette (Internet blogging etiquette and more)

Emily PostMorning!

Recently I’ve noticed a growing interesting the art of Netiquette (or simply, treat others the way you’d like to be treated).  Two posts that have dealt with this are:

Now, I’ve been marketing online for over a decade, and networking online since 1988!  During these past twenty years, I’ve seen bullies come and I’ve seen bullies go, and have pulled together my own set of resources on how to deal with ’em.

Thus, for your reading enjoyment, please dive coffee-cup first into:

NOTEIn The Beginning of Netiquette….There Was UseNet

Long long ago, back when the NeXT machine was Steve Jobs major claim to fame, when spine-tingling excitement was defined by searching for the rarely-spotted Utah Teapot in the Pipes Screensaver, when you’d use the alphabet if you run out of enough zeros and ones for programming, when….

You get the idea, right?  We’re talking, oh, hmmm, the late 1980s.  Back then, there wasn’t any newfangled WYSIWYG interface to the World Wide Web – no sirree!  Back then, instead of glories like StumbleUpon or Twitter, you had Usenet.

"Usenet", I hear you cry?  "What the heck is Usenet?"

Glad you asked!  Usenet was (and still is, actually  it’s now Google Groups (big surprise there, eh)), a collection of thousands upon thousands of special interest "bulletin board newsgroups" to which you could post questions, join in a discussion and the like.  Prominent posters became known as net.gods and net.goddesses and the creativity and synergy that was sparked was truly impressive to witness; you can learn more about it here.

Ever hear about the Tiananmen Square massacre back in 1989?  You can step back in time and read the updates (AS THEY HAPPENED!) over at the Soc.culture.china Archives on “Tiananmen Square 1989”.   That was said to be the first war fought by email and fax (you’d post to newsgroups via email).

Human nature being what is has been ever since "Og the Big Buff Caveman With No Life" maliciously hid the spears of  "Bork the Smart Small Caveman Who Weighed 98 Pounds" and scribbled on the cave wall "Bork Is A Luzer!", many people online took advantage of their anonymity and wrote in ways that would make the Hells Angels bikers blush or Jaws to swim away in shame.

This activity, worthy of beating up small children or other defenseless folk, is called ‘flaming’.  Heck, back then the newsgroup alt.flame was created….this was where you were supposed to take all nasty, profane-laden panty-twisting verbal battles (so as NOT to clog up the original newsgroup).

To this day, I fail to see the pleasure people get by buffing up their own egos via hurting others. 

But the fact remains, there are more ego-craving losers online than at a Psychotic singles bar on Friday evening…and you can’t wish them away.

NOTEEnter…The Core Rules of Netiquette

Back in 1990, the wondrously smart person Virginia Shea wrote The Core Rules of Netiquette.  One of my favorite sections is entitled "Remember The Human" and contains the following forward from Guy Kawasaki:

"When I die, I am going to have a handful of books placed in my coffin. I need them to ensure for eternity that my grammar is correct, that I’m entertained, and that I’m inspired. The books are:

    * The Chicago Manual of Style
    * The Elements of Style (William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White)
    * Writers on Writing (Jon Winokur)
    * If You Want to Write (Brenda Ueland)

Now whoever buries me will have to squeeze one more book into my coffin: Netiquette by Virginia Shea. Where I’m going, there will be electronic mail (and it won’t be owned by Microsoft). For all eternity, I want to observe the rules that Shea has established for network etiquette.

You’re probably standing in the computer section of a bookstore surrounded by too many books about the Internet and the information superhighway. You’re confused: Which book do I really need about all this email stuff?

It doesn’t matter which of the technical books you buy because they all contain the same downloaded files. However, if you want to read a book that was written and that teaches you principles that you will use for a long, long time, this is it. "

I completely agree!  You simply HAVE to visit  and read up The Core Rules of Netiquette about it.  It’s a must-know.

And here’s what I’ve taken away over the past 20 years.

Talk about a timeless topic – you can check out the page I wrote regarding Netiquette 11 years ago over here.

NOTEMy Own Personal Netiquette and Internet Blogging Etiquette Good Behavior Tips

Here are some of the rules by which I live online…how ’bout you?

>> Netiquette Tip 10: Politeness costs nothing but delivers big.

Thank ou!What does it cost you to say "thank you" or "Gee that was helpful"?  So many people are so rude today that common courtesy becomes more rare than a flock of basketball-playing dodo birds. 

Remember, being polite makes people stand up and take positive notice of you.

Think about how you felt when you encountered stellar individuals both offline and on…. I’ll bet their politeness to you certainly made your day.  You can do that for others as well.

>> Netiquette Tip 9: Satisfy your ego by MAKING achievements and NOT DEGRADING those who do (ie, don’t be a meanie!).

No meanies!From what I’ve witnessed, lack of a huuuuge ego/self confidence drives many of the trolls online to behave worse than my 5 year old does when deprived of his early morning Calculus. 

So….if you have an insane urge to build yourself up by tearing someone down, stick with the first desire (build someone up) and modify the cause (don’t tear someone down, instead, do something of which YOU can be proud). 

Achievements are something nobody but NOBODY can take away from you.

>> Netiquette Tip 8: Sit on your hands .

Sit on your handsEver read something that smashes past your defenses so well, you hear the blood pounding in your ears and your fingers start to lash out in an uncontrollable fury as you type a knee-jerk reaction?

There’s nothing wrong with knee-jerk reactions….so LONG as you sit on your hands and don’t hit that POST button!  🙂

I’m all for working out angst and anger and soul-searing "You’re Going Down HARD BOY!" etc… clears your mind and calms your soul.  After you finish writing it, do NOT post it….instead, copy to a notepad file and store it away fro the next time someone is a jerk.  Not only can you reread your brilliantly satirical wit once again, but it might also provide fodder for future insightful "how to deal" posts.  A win win!

>> Netiquette Tip 7: Take BACK your own power .

Take back your powerWhenever you let bullies affect your emotions, you’re giving power over yourself to individuals less worthy than toenail fungus. 

Why on earth would you EVER do that?

My family, my friends, those whom I love, etc….THOSE are the people who are worthy to engage my emotions.  Scum-sucking inflamed wart creatures are NOT.

Never forget that.

>> Netiquette Tip 6: Remember the Internet is Timeless .

TimelessOnce you hit that POST button….your words are immortalized online.  

In other words….you….

Can’t take ’em back! 

Thus, what might seem to be mind-numblingly clever to you today could be the kiss of death of your employment goals 2 years from now. 

I cannot emphasize the above enough.  Once written online…it’s committed online.

>> Netiquette Tip 5: Treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself .

PolitenessDid someone stumble your post?  Thank them for it!  Liz wrote a great article about this over at The Secret to Massive Digg/StumbleUpon Traffic Without Spamming

Did somehow refer to your article?  Send them a ‘thanks for the link!’

Did someone hear your tweet for help and find resources for you?  Thank them.

Did someone insult you on your blog?  There’s no reason for you to publish their comment then unless you can react in a calm, heartfelt fashion. 

Treat others as you yourself want to be treated…and reap the benefits bigtime!

>> Netiquette Tip 4: Be wary about the CC button.

emailDid you ever want to poll your audience and send out information….but used the CC button instead of the BCC button?  Guess what – you’ve just shared your entire mailing list with all the recipients….many of whom probably would NOT thank you for revealing their email address.

Luckily, there’s a very easy way around this – create a forward address on your site like "friends at".  Set the forward to you.  Use THAT email for your broadcasts…and paste the recipient list into the BCC.

End result?  Everyone gets the message, and if someone hits, Reply to All, the only address that is activated is your  Win win!

>> Netiquette Tip 3: Be gracious.

Teach with honorNot everyone has your life experiences…so what might be clearer than oxygen on a bright summer’s night to you might be more baffling than comprehending Paris Hilton win the White House nomination.

Everyone was a beginner once….that’s a position to honor. 

Never make someone feel stupid for asking a question (because as you’re probably aware, the dumbest question possible is that which you choose NOT to ask).

>> Netiquette Tip 2: Be Proactive.

Headsup!If you come across a site that has a blindingly painful error in it (plugins page is exposed, the contact form doesn’t work, etc.etc.etc.), drop that person a line to notify them about it.  If you can’t find their email address, tweet about it and see if anyone else can reach the individual.

I really wish someone had done that for my Twelcome page that I wrote 3 months ago – I was writing my Welcome Stumbleupon Visitor page this morning and lo and behold, I had a massive typo on the first page.  For three months it had been on my Twelcome page!  Argh!  The agony!  The wah!

Thus, if you can do a Good Deed….well….do it!   Good karma shall be visited upon ye.

And finally, for my bestest tip ever:

>> Netiquette Tip 1: Remember….Your family is reading this as we speak (type?  Interact?  Commune?)

FamilyMake certain you are PROUD of everything you discharge to the Internet.  Don’t have kids yet?  Keep in mind when you DO have them, they’ll be able to find Dear Old Mom or Dear Old Dad’s posting about that wild crazy time they created at the Mathaholics Anonymous convention (complete with graphs!).

Personally, I know my 80+ year old dad reads my posts, and my siblings read my posts, and my kids read my posts, and fellow karate moms read my posts, and my ex-boyfriends read my posts….I ALWAYS keep in mind…my words are reaching their ears as well.

It makes me diligent in producing top-notch quality that will withstand the test of time.

I hope you have found my experiences to be helpful!  What have YOU seen with regards to politeness online…and how do YOU react to bullies?  Remember….it’s your blog and your life – you deserve to take ownership of it today.

Thanks again for stopping by!


Barbara Ling

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