Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 111
  • They're expected to know what kind of material that includes and to leave the area immediately if they encounter it accidentally.
  • They're prohibited from using any form of obscene, harassing, or abusive language online.
  • If they break these rules, they lose their school-sponsored Internet accounts.

The students I spoke to didn't mind these restrictions. In fact, when I asked them what net behavior they found most obnoxious, the first thing they mentioned was long, rude, profane, or off-the-topic flaming. Several thought that potentially offensive material should be curtailed to prevent younger children from seeing it. They also felt it was perfectly appropriate for operators of private bulletin boards to remove particularly obnoxious users.

See "Cyberspace Predators" on page page 83 for more on specific dangers to kids in cyberspace.

Knowing whom to ask, or the art of getting help

In Risks Digest 15.57, Dan Yurman tells a distressing story about an incident that took place at a major Eastern university. (Endnote #23) A graduate teaching assistant told a class of undergraduates to use the Internet as a research resource for an assigned paper. The students followed their instructions and fired off a lot of very basic questions (example: "What is hazardous waste?") to a mailing list used mostly by experts to discuss environmental issues.

The rest of the tale is a familiar one of escalating flameage. The experts were annoyed at having their time wasted in this manner. They told the undergraduates to take a walk to the library or look the information up in an almanac. The students and the teaching assistant were surprised, angry, and defensive.


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