Netiquette in your Online Class

Recently, I discussed how to write a thoughtful discussion post for your online course. However, you also want to keep netiquette in mind when posting for your online course.

What is netiquette?

It sounds like a word I made up right? Actually, netiquette is a term used to describe polite, prompt, and professional online communication, especially within the context of an online course.


Important netiquette practices to keep in mind when posting are:

Keep in mind the context and your audience. An e-mail to your professor may be more formal than to another student.

  • For instance, address your professor by their title (Hello Dr. Smith, Hi Professor Smith, etc.) unless they inform you otherwise. Always make sure to include the following information from your professor, especially if you do not know them well: your name (first and last), what course you are in (they likely teach multiple courses), and what question or concern you have.

Keep your messages short and to the point. Just as you have to read everyone else’s posts, they have to read yours too.

  • Avoid redundancy in your posts. If students are making the same points over and over again, that is boring for you to read as well as for them. Try to come up with new and interesting points. If you are struggling refer to my previous post as well as discuss your concerns with your professor.

Try to avoid capital letters as it will come across as though you are shouting.

  • You may want to emphasize a particular word or sentence in your post. Rather than using capital letters to make your point, utilize bold or italics to emphasize. I personally use quotations and italics to highlight a particular passage of interest when posting for in an online discussion forum.

Do not attack the writer of a post with derogatory language or comments or personal attacks on a person (known as “flaming”).

  • We all have opinions and that is great. However, you want to remain professional in your approach when you disagree with a classmate. It is fine to disagree! Rather than attacking your classmate, you can add a point in about why you disagree with their point. Use of profanity will only discredit your argument.

Even if you think someone has attacked you, think it through or contact your instructor before replying back.

  • Sleep on it, take 24 hours away. If someone has said something you may perceive as an attack, take some time before responding. If it has really offended you, think of contacting your professor. However, think it through before taking any action.

Speak up if you have questions or concerns.

  • If you have questions, ask them! Everyone else probably has the same questions. If you are nervous to ask your question in a discussion forum, then you can always contact your professor one-on-one.

Get involved and participate on a daily basis if possible.

  • Do not wait until the day a post is due (or even the hours before). Try to begin posting several days before the deadline. This will allow you to get involved in the discussion from the beginning and be a stronger contributor to the class.

Use emoticons and expressions to communicate what cannot be communicated non-verbally.

  • Emoticons (for example 🙂 ) can be great way to express your feelings that you may not be able to communicate non-verbally and make the tone of your post clearer.

Make sure to read responses carefully and do not skim.

  • As I stated above, you want to avoid redundancy in your posts. One way of doing this is by reading your peers prior posts and coming up with new ideas rather than sharing the same ideas over and over again.

Taking these steps will allow you and others to enjoy the class. 🙂


Questions? Contact me!

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