Netiquette: The Art of Online Etiquette

When you take a distance education course, you are joining a virtual learning community. Just like a physical community, an online community (like the ones you have in social media environments, such as Facebook and tumblr) requires you to be a responsible citizen. Be useful, curious, kind, polite, and a positive contributing member of your online learning community.

Remember that there are real, live people reading your posts, assignments, portfolios, and email. Treat them with respect. Foul language, insults, and harassment are not tolerated (just as they would not be tolerated in a face-to-face classroom). Bullying or flaming is prohibited (a flame is a series of angry responses to someone’s comments).

Use your best written language. For example, please do not do type in all caps (UNLESS YOU ARE TRYING TO SHOUT!). You are taking college courses, and not chatting with your friends. So, always strive to use properly punctuated and grammatically correct English (or other required language) to the best of your ability.

Watch your tone. Most Internet courses use written, rather than verbal, communication. It is very easy to misinterpret someone’s meaning online. Misinterpretation of tone often occurs on discussion boards and in emails. It can help to use emoticons to convey your tone. Never write or post anything on a discussion board or in an email that you are not willing to say directly to the person face to face. Polite behavior is just as appropriate in the online environment as in face-to-face classrooms; leave all bad attitudes at the virtual door before you enter your online course. College is training you to be a professional in the future, so your online presence should reflect a professional attitude.

Check your spelling and your language. Online language does not equal poor English (contrary to what most people seem to believe), nor does it equal very high- level technical or pretentious language. Think of your audience and keep your language simple. Do you think that your audience would prefer “eschews prescriptive behaviorism in favor of exploratory constructivism” or “quick and filled with examples”?

Revise and edit. Think about what you have written before you submit it. Timelines are different online; you have more time to respond. Do not wait until the last minute to post a reply; maybe you should sleep on it and reconsider what you have written before posting. Also, it is a good practice to proofread your work and posts—you will not only communicate more effectively, you will probably make a much better impression on your instructor and fellow classmates.

How to Protect Yourself Online



To protect yourself from malicious emails that make it past filters, follow these guidelines:
• Question any email that suggests a sense of urgency.
• Question any email that contains significant grammatical errors.
• Never open attachments from unknown senders.
• Inspect the sender email address before opening any attachments. Does the sender’s text name (e.g., John Anderson) map to the expected email address (e.g.,
• Inspect links in an email before clicking. Verify that the actual link matches the text for the link.
• Never supply your username and password via email or an untrusted website. College and District Services staff will never request this information.
• If you open a malicious attachment, click on a malicious link, or inadvertently supply your password, notify your local technology support staff immediately.

Further best practices information can be found at this government site. 

Social Media:

Never accept friend requests from people whom you have never met—they should at least have friends in common with people you do know.

Never keep people in your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram who are cruel, abusive, threatening, or post obscene photos or information. You can easily unfriend or block them.

Never agree to meet in person with anyone you do not know.

Phishing scams:

Never respond to any email from a stranger who asked you for sensitive information, such as your bank account number, passwords, or street address.

There is a new variant of ransomware called “locky” which is becoming common. In general, ransomware encrypts files on a victim computer. The only way to open those files is to pay a ransom. The most common delivery of this particular malicious software is through a Microsoft Word email attachment. To find out more about this, check out this newsletter article. 

More about Phishing from Information Services:

Phishing is one of the most prevalent and successful Internet threats that users will encounter. Phishing can target the individual user for personal information or an employee known to have access to sensitive data at their workplace.

Phishing is a technique used by cybercriminals to obtain personal information from you or download malware (malicious software) onto your PC or mobile device through a call to action. Phishing attempts are mostly done electronically, such as an email or messaging application. The call to action may include an official sounding story and prompts you to reply to the message or click on a link taking you to a web site where you provide personal/sensitive information there. Often, the call to action also includes a reward as an enticement to click on the displayed link or replying to the message. As you can see, Phishing is designed to manipulate human emotion and use convincing stories/reasons in order to obtain information from the user, which is different and more dangerous than other types of Internet threats that are dependent on the device being used.

For further information on how Phishing works and recognizing the various forms of Phishing attacks that you or your co-workers may encounter, read the full article posted on CaTT Tales.