Netiquette Guide


The purpose of the following information is to help you be a more effective and successful student when communicating via email, chat rooms, or on discussion boards as a part of your online learning activities.

It is important for you as a student to recognize that the online classroom is in fact a classroom, and certain behaviors are expected when you communicate with both your peers and your instructors. These guidelines for online behavior and interaction are known as “netiquette”.

Why Netiquette is important to you as an online student

Proper conduct in an online class is just as important as in a face-to-face classroom with similar potential repercussions for failing to maintain decorum. Remember that in an online class it is common for a very substantial portion of your grade to be a function of how well you perform in online discussion areas and other “classroom participation” activities. Your ability to clearly and properly communicate in an online class can be every bit as important to your success as how you perform on multiple choice tests and written assignments.

Remember that your password is the only thing protecting you from pranks or more serious harm.

  • Don't share your password with anyone
  • Change your password if you think someone else might know it
  • Always log out when you are finished using the system

Some forms of online misconduct are merely bothersome to others with the impact being limited to you instructor or fellow students finding you annoying and their being less likely to take your thoughts seriously. Other forms of online misconduct can potentially cross a line into the area of academic dishonesty can be treated no differently than cheating on an exam or plagiarizing a paper. It is therefore important that you take these guidelines seriously as they can have very real impact on your success as an online student. You want to avoid being guilty of misbehavior in both forms regardless of the level of impact.

Below are specific instructions on how to be the most positive and effective digital communicator that you can be in all areas of communication, but most especially in your online classes.

When communicating online, you should always:

  • When communicating online, you should always:
  • Treat your instructor and classmates with respect in email or any other communication.
  • Always use your professors’ proper title: Dr. or Prof., or if in doubt use Mr. or Ms.
  • Unless specifically invited, don’t refer to your instructor by first name.
  • Use clear and concise language.
  • Remember that all college level communication should have correct spelling and grammar (this includes discussion boards).
  • Avoid slang terms such as “wassup?” and texting abbreviations such as “u” instead of “you.”
  • Use standard fonts such as Arial, Calibri or Times new Roman and use a size 10 or 12 pt.font
  • Avoid using the caps lock feature AS IT CAN BE INTERPRETED AS YELLING.
  • Limit and possibly avoid the use of emoticons like 🙂 or .
  • Be cautious when using humor or sarcasm as tone is sometimes lost in an email or discussion post and your message might be taken seriously or sound offensive.
  • Be careful with personal information (both yours and other’s).
  • Do not send confidential information via e-mail.

When you send an email to your instructor, teaching assistant, or classmates, you should:

  • When you send an email to your instructor, teaching assistant, or classmates, you should:
  • Use a descriptive subject line.
  • Be brief.
  • Avoid attachments unless you are sure your recipients can open them.
  • Avoid HTML in favor of plain text.
  • Sign your message with your name and return e-mail address.
  • Think before you send the e-mail to more than one person. Does everyone really need to see your message?
  • Be sure you REALLY want everyone to receive your response when you click, “reply all.”
  • Be sure that the message author intended for the information to be passed along before you click the “forward” button

When posting on the Discussion Board in your online class, you should:

  • Make posts that are on topic and within the scope of the course material.
  • Take your posts seriously and review and edit your posts before sending.
  • Be as brief as possible while still making a thorough comment.
  • Always give proper credit when referencing or quoting another source.
  • Be sure to read all messages in a thread before replying.
  • Don’t repeat someone else’s post without adding something of your own to it.
  • Avoid short, generic replies such as, “I agree.” You should include why you agree or add to the
  • previous point.
  • Always be respectful of others’ opinions even when they differ from your own.
  • When you disagree with someone, you should express your differing opinion in a respectful,
  • non-critical way.
  • Do not make personal or insulting remarks.
  • Be open-minded.


Student Tips: Secret to Success in Online Discussions
Student Tips: Writing Posts for Online Discussions
Student Tips: Writing Replies in Online Discussions

Overall, you should use common sense when communicating electronically. In the same way that you would present yourself in person to make a positive and constructive impression you should always do the same when taking an online course. Remember that the majority of what we communicate to others is in non-verbal ways (body language, voice inflection, etc.) and all you have in online courses is in a text form. Make sure your digital impression is a clear and positive one.