University of Oregon

Practicing Good "Netiquette"


As a user of UOnet, the UO’s campuswide network, you are responsible for learning some of the basic ideas and terms related to the Internet and recognizing how to be a good "net citizen."

Write Concise Messages. Some people receive hundreds of email messages a day. To make life easier for your intended recipients, keep your messages short and to the point. When replying to a message, include only the sections of the previous message that are relevant to your response.

Learn the Conventions of Communication. Familiarize yourself with some of the conventions of email communication. Abbreviations, like FYI (for your information), BTW (by the way), and :-) (a smiley face) are used by many as shortcuts for conveying tone and feeling in messages.

Don't Type in ALL CAPS. Typing a message in all capital letters GIVES THE READER THE IMPRESSION YOU ARE SHOUTING. It is also much more difficult to read.

Include Return Address Information. Your email should include the proper return address. You can accomplish this by properly configuring your email client to include the return email address you'd like to use.

Make Subject Lines Descriptive. A message with a subject like "Help"--or even worse, no subject line at all--will often be passed over by a recipient who gets a large volume of email messages. Use a short descriptive phrase that sums up the scope of your message: something like "Excel Says Out of Memory" to describe a problem you are having with Microsoft Excel.

When Replying, Reference the Original Message. If you are replying to a message, first edit out the unnecessary parts of the original, leaving the specific point(s) to which you intend to respond. Then insert your response after each related point. This makes it easier for others to follow the line of discussion.

Don't Send Personal Messages to Mailing Lists. If a message is meant for one individual only, do not send it to them via alist that goes to many recipients. Always look at the message's address line to make sure you are responding only to your intended recipient(s).

Learn to Properly Convey Irony, Sarcasm, and Humor. Good-natured attempts to be witty are often misconstrued in email. If you like to use a conversational tone in your messages, consider whether others who don't know you will understand your personal style of communication.

Don't Publicly Criticize (or "Flame") Other Users. Civil discourse usually yields more positive results than inflammatory or vulgar communication. If you have an issue to take up with another user that you feel requires a harsh response, consider communicating directly with that person, rather than starting a war of words on a public forum.

General Tips

These last tips don't exactly fall under the category of etiquette, but they are good advice:

  • Educate yourself about computer viruses and take the necessary steps to prevent infections. A good start is our Safe Computing page.
  • Observe standard copyright restrictions, which usually apply to electronic material in the same way they apply to printed material.
  • Do not upload or download illegal software or copywritten music or movies. It's a federal crime.

Read the "Acceptable Use of Computing Resources" handout for details about what kind of activities are permissible on UOnet.

If you have questions or comments please contact our Tech Desk.