Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 23

Q. Why should I worry about Netiquette? Isn't it all just common sense?

Not all of it. Some rules of Netiquette are based on common courtesy, but have been adapted for a computer culture. Others are based on the technological limits of cyberspace. Still others are matters of convention. Don't ignore these. If you don't bother to learn the conventions of cyberspace, you'll make yourself fair game for flames and bozo filters (Endnote #5) -- a net pariah.

Q. Is Netiquette the same everywhere?

No. Online manners worldwide probably have more in common than, say, table manners. But there are local differences.

For example, among the USENET newsgroups, rec.pets.cats is generally polite, friendly, and helpful, while rec.food.veg sustains virulent flame wars. See "The Art of Flaming" on page 71 for more.

Additionally, some privately owned services (Prodigy, for example) monitor their discussion groups to ensure the content is suitable for a "family audience." (In the case of Prodigy, the result resembles that of similar efforts by the people who run network television. This is not a compliment.)

Any time you enter a new area of cyberspace, it's a good idea to "lurk," or look around, for a while before you say anything. Just log in and read what other people have written before you write anything yourself. That way you'll get an idea of the local mores before you make a fool of yourself.

Despite that disclaimer, most of the rules in this book should apply in most areas of cyberspace.


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