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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Netiquette Expanded

Your communication can reflect positively or negatively on you.  Avoiding mistakes by following simple rules will help lead to professional results and avoid embarrassing situations. Building on the ten rules from last week’s post, today’s post will provide more details and suggestions. You should be mindful of your netiquette when writing emails, posting on discussion forums, commenting on Facebook or Twitter, or posting photos. Netiquette governs every aspect of your internet experience.

Spelling and Grammar

Always use proper grammar and correct spelling. Poor grammar and misspelled words are unprofessional and reflect poorly on you and your message. A suggestion is to type your message or information into a word processor such as MS Word, apply the spell and grammar checker, make changes, then copy and paste the text to your communication source. Take the time to ensure your audience does not have to read a poorly written message with typos.

The “You” Attitude
When communicating within the DKG world, avoid using "me" or "I" with your message. Your messages should be about the reader or the organization and not the writer. Talk about the other person and use the word "you" and "your" in your message. There are exceptions to this rule, such as in online classrooms and Web sites; however, professional writing requires the "you" attitude at all times while sending emails, memos, and letters.

Write Concisely
Get to the point. Follow the concept of concise writing and do not ramble on with unnecessary words. Only write what is necessary so your audience can quickly read your message and move on. People have many other emails and websites to read, and if you write senseless words leading to a long email or electronic message, people might click out early and move on to their next reading.

Always proofread your message! You do not have the opportunity to use body language while communicating over the Internet, and people may misinterpret your message if you do not write with good tone. Do not write messages that are confrontational, rude, or All Caps (WHICH MEANS YOU ARE SHOUTING!). A good suggestion is to read aloud your message to ensure it is a polite and courteous communication for your audience.

Use Good Tone
Good tone is critical with electronic writing. The wrong words can leave a bad impression and upset the reader--especially with emails and in online classrooms. It is easy to sound bossy and unprofessional with persuasive messages, and because most situations are asynchronous, you do not have the opportunity to respond immediately or allow the audience to see body language or hear the tone of your voice. Always check your writing to ensure it is polite and neutral regarding requests and conveying information. An email with good tone can accomplish much more than one that is overbearing and with the "me" attitude. Remember, the "you" attitude is a good way to convey your messages with good tone.

Double Check Email Address
With email programs, it is easy to send a message to the wrong email address. Your unkind remarks may get to the wrong person. Before clicking the send button, always check the email address of the recipient. In a similar vein, do not “Reply to All” unless it is absolutely necessary.

Keep File Sizes Small
People do not want to wait for long downloads. Even with today's high-speed connections, large file sizes are annoying and will cause the person downloading the message to abort. If you know your file size is large, be sure to convert the file to a PDF format prior to attaching the file. Always convert long documents, large graphics, and pictures to PDF format to ensure the file size is reasonable and downloads quickly--especially for those who do not have fast connection speeds. If you do not want to convert pictures to PDF, optimize them using Photoshop or another image program.

Internet Messages are Permanent
Make sure everything your post on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) is appropriate. Your rude remarks live forever. Be careful what you write! Sometimes it is best to keep thoughts to yourself because the Internet is a permanent record of what you send. You cannot retract or delete messages or posts (in most cases), so if you do not want your message read by the wrong people, you probably should communicate your message using another media and avoid sending it electronically. Anyone--from your grandmother to a colleague to a boss--can see what you post.

Be Respectful
Respond to other people's messages promptly, and if they ask for a return acknowledgment or receipt of an email, give it to them! Be polite, friendly, and professional at all times. Many of these rules imply respect for the reader; the Internet is a permanent message and reflects on you as a person. Use these rules to your advantage by thinking about your message and who reads it. The Internet can be a great tool for building a good reputation and respect from your peers.

Be Professional at All Times
Avoid getting into arguments in chat rooms, online classrooms, or with emails. This happens often and is a result of the ease of sending a message while upset or out of spite or revenge. Because the other person is not present, people often use the power of electronic writing to vent or lash out at each other. If you become upset at a person, do not respond electronically until you have had time to put the issue into perspective. Remember, electronic messages are permanent. Do not put yourself in a position with an unprofessional message you may regret later. It may come back to haunt you! Remember that people will have different opinions than yours.

Good Rules for Email
Use clear and precise subjects. Utilize formal letter-writing formats. Keep your messages concise. Include your name and contact information in all communication. NEVER give out any personal information via email.

The number one reason people go to the World Wide Web is to read. Therefore, following simple rules for electronic writing is critical to a well-received message. You can make a positive or negative impression on those who read your electronic communication. The choice is yours. While communicating electronically, people often never meet each other in person, and this may be the only way you are perceived. Use good writing skills and follow these rules to make a lasting positive impression, and you will gain respect and people will look forward to reading your messages. And remember, it is just as easy to create a poor impression if you do not follow rules, so take the time to communicate effectively over the Internet. You will be glad you did later!

Photo is from Pixabay CC0

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