Chat rooms, discussion groups, and forums make it possible to post notes on a specific subject and trade opinions with others. Before using such sites for the first time, take a few minutes to look over the rules and regulations, and check out the FAQs, all quick ways to get an overview of the group. Reading several posts or threads to make sure it’s the community you’re looking for before diving in. Every once in a while folks pop up on a message board I’m a part of with clearly no idea what the community is about, and it’s rather a shock for them! What’s acceptable in one group may not be in another, so “lurking” will give you a feel for how to behave.
Try to fit in with the style and tone of the group, and phrase your messages politely. Refrain from correcting participants’ mistakes. Once you’ve learned the ropes, be patient with newcomers.
The anonymity of cyberspace may make you more willing to participate, but it can also wreak havoc on good manners. A recent survey found that 57% of respondents believed “it’s much easier for people to be rude on the Internet because they can hide their identity.” (Emily Post’s Etiquette) You may be anonymous, but that’s no excuse to start indulging your worst instincts.
Remember, never give out your personal information!
The flame (a no-holds barred message expressing a strongly help opinion) becomes a real faux pas only when it’s part of a larger flame war. A single message can be appropriate and entertaining, but a flame war is a series of heated messages that can disrupt a discussion group.
As illogical as it may seem, there is a polite way to flame. When you’re ready to rant, signal your intention by typing FLAME ON. Write FLAME OFF when you’re finished and revert to your regular style.
Instant messaging (IMing) has taken the on-line world by storm! It started with kids and teens (I started using IM when I went away to college), but businesses also use it. In fact, many universities have “Instant librarians.” How cool is that?
At work, IMing is the quickest way to receive and convey information. Be careful, though, not fall into the trap of multitasking. When you’re on the phone, it’s not acceptable to send IMs that have nothing to do with the call. Your focus should stay on the person you’re talking to.
IMs can come fast and thick and be intrusive. When you don’t want messages, you can specify that you’re unavailable though online. If you prefer not to participate in instant messaging at all, just let your friends and co-workers know.
If you don’t get a response to your IM, don’t keep sending messages. The person at the other computer may not want to response, could be busy with something, or another person might be using his computer. Remember that each time you tact people, you may be interruption them (especially at work), so limit any frivolous or unnecessary instant messages.
IMing tends to be “ultracasual,” but don’t use words that are a little too colorful or off-color. You never know who might see your IM at work, since there’s no guarantee that your IM is for the recipient’s eyes only.
In addition, the symbols and abbreviations I mentioned yesterday, come in very handy when IMing as the primary way to convey emotions.