So many students, and even adults, communicate virtually with others in ways that they never would face-to-face. The anonymity that the Internet can provide causes some people to be cruel, spiteful and humiliating to others. In different situations, online and virtual communication causes people to be sloppy, informal, and simply poor communicators.
Here are 5 rule for online etiquette that will help us all to be kind, clear and successful virtual communicators.
Think about your audience.
Similarly to how we talk differently when we’re with our friends than when we’re with strangers, it’s important to use the right etiquette in online communications with different people. While it’s ok to text “thx 4 the fun!” to your best friend, it would be better to write “Thank you so much for your time,” to someone who gave you a job interview. As you write, remember who you are sending your message to and use the appropriate language and tone.
Remember that context is key.
It is very easy for our online communications to get confused so it’s a good idea to provide context whenever possible. For example, when emailing a teacher with a question it might be a good idea to specify which class the question is about, which chapter of the book, or even a specific problem or assignment. If you’re writing to someone who you haven’t communicated with in a while, you might want to reference what you talked about last time, so that the person could remember the context of your conversation.
Remember your grammar rules.
Using correct grammar rules goes right along with thinking about your audience. It might be ok to use run-on sentences and zero punctuation in messages to friends, but in more formal online communications, like a public comment or an email to a teacher, your correct use of grammar will help you present your best self. Using incorrect spelling and punctuation not only looks bad but it could also change the meaning of your words and the way it will be received by your reader. When you use the same rules of grammar online that you use in english class, you present yourself as being polite, considerate and a good communicator.
Proofread and double check before you send.
It is always a good idea to proofread everything before you send it, because after it’s sent there’s no getting it back. Quickly check to make sure that you included everything important that needed to be said, that you wrote things clearly and precisely, and that you didn’t make a mistake in spelling or grammar. Oftentimes we also need to attach a file, document or picture to emails and posts online — double check that you included everything in your message that you need to.
Don’t forget the golden rule.
Never forget that you’re communicating with actual people when you’re online. Don’t write something that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face and always think about how you would feel if you were to receive the message that you are sending.