Netiquette Makes the Internet a Nicer Place

Here are the online basics you need to become familiar with in order to be taken seriously in your online communications. Below are my own insights, but you can also find more about Internet Etiquette at About.com, Microsoft.com and NetManners.com.

Do not type in all caps

As far as "The Net" is concerned, capitalizing every word is considered YELLING or SCREAMING. The reason you do not see it used in print is because it is difficult to read. Have you ever read a book or newspaper where all the text is capitalized?

Refrain from using email stationary

Email stationary may look great to you, but they clog up online e-mail and slow down transmissions. With e-mail administrators having to work so hard to stop SPAM, your stationary may also be putting your email at risk of being blocked. If the person receiving your email doesn't use the same E-mail Client (Outlook for example) or your version, they may see nothing but code. If you are going to use images for email, use a professional company like iContact.com or ConstantContact.com.

When to use Return Reciept Request

Do not use Return Receipt Request (RR) for each and every personal email you send because you like "knowing" when someone opens the email you sent to them. Not only is this an inconvenience pain for the recipient, this feature is annoying and intrusive! How would you like it if every time you heard a voice mail, answering machine message, or opened a postal letter from a friend it was immediately reported back to them that you had received their communications? The recipient should have the privacy to determine when and if they want to reply - period. Retrun Reciept should be reserved for those instances where it is critical to knowing the email was opened. Such instances would include legal and important business issues. Plus, keep in mind, opened doesn't mean read!

Understand that you will be on a continual learning curve

All of us are on a learning curve. Technology is changing constantly - the only consistency is change! Don't always rely on others to help. Besides, most programs have a 'Help' section. It's like your teacher told you in school, "If I tell you what the word means you will not learn. Go get the dictionary. Certainly there will be times you need 'real' assistance, but give it a try first. Then, when you can't find the answer, be prepared to pay someone for help.

Always minimize, compress or just don't send

Many people new to the Internet do not realize how large documents, graphics or photo files are. Some are large enough to fill someone's email box and cause their other mail to bounce! Get in the habit of compressing anything over 100,000 bytes. (You can view file sizes in Windows Explorer. Simply right click on the file name and choose properties.) Check out WinZip for these purposes. Do not send unannounced large attachments to others because you think that photo or file is cute or cool or neat. Even when sending business files, always compress and ask permission first!

Believe it or not, some people are still using dial-up connections and aren't on a 10MB download package like you. So what takes you 20 seconds to get an email attachment of a song from your friend, will take someone on a dialup almost 8 minutes to receive that same song from you. If they weren't expecting it, they will think there computer has gone down or hung up. YOur best bet is to let them know you are going to send them the file, make sure they want it, then compress it first. If you do not want to compress the files, learn how to make them smaller with certain software. You could also learn how to use web sites that allow you to upload files for viewing.

The truth about Viruses

Forwarding of virus warnings from friends are generally always hoaxes [Great Resource: Symantec's Virus Hoax Page] - especially if they tell you to forward to everyone you know. Delete those emails and do not forward them! Definitely ignore those forwarded emails instructing you to delete files on your computer - they could be critical files that your computer needs to operate. Only warn friends if you KNOW you have a virus that you have inadvertently passed on to them. Rely only on your virus software and your software provider's Web site for real warnings. If you get one of these emails from a friend or associate, go to your virus software provider's site and read what they have to say before you unnecessarily alarm folks or, even worse, delete files off your hard drive. There are many urban legends purely in existence to annoy experienced users and make others look silly.

Several of the latest viruses actually use email addresses farmed out of your address book or In Box to send the virus and propagate itself to all those listed with your name in the FROM: field. Later viruses can send out the virus with your friend's names in the from field! Yikes! The need for a 24/7 real-time virus protection software is no longer a choice -it is your responsibility to remain virus free. You will also need to update your virus files regularly so that your computer is protected from the latest releases. Check out: Microsoft Security Essentials for these purposes.

  • Get an active program that is always "ON". This will catch any viruses as they are being downloaded so they can be quarantined and cannot infect your system.
  • Update your virus patterns daily or every time you log on. These updates can be downloaded from the Web site of your virus software manufacturer. Norton has a scheduler to tell your computer to do this automatically! You need to ensure your system is protected from the latest viruses which may have just been discovered since you were last online. New viruses are identified daily!
  • Never click on any attachment or an .exe (example: Happy99.exe, free stuff, click here or ILOVEYOU) file attached within an email without making sure the attachment has been checked for viruses. Even if the mail appears to from someone you know very well! They may unknowingly be infected and are not aware of the virus on their system which has just spawned an email with their name on it and addressed to you. The email may look like it is from your friend just to get you to open it when in fact it is an email generated by a virus.