What is Netiquette? The term stands for network etiquette, or the etiquette of cyberspace. Internet netiquette and email netiquette are simply sets of rules for behaving properly and maintaining common courtesy and social graces online. Anytime you encounter a new culture, you're bound to commit some social faux pas before you learn the rules. The Internet is a unique culture onto itself, but you don't have to jump in blindly. By following just a few basic rules, you can succeed in all of your online relationships, from business acquaintances to romantic relationships.
One of the most basic email netiquette and rules comes from "the golden rule" your parents taught you when you were little: do unto others as you would have done to you. Online, it's easy to forget you're talking to another human being when all you see is words on a computer screen. It's important to stop and think about your words before you type them. Would you say this to the person's face if they were in front of you? If the answer is no, you need to rewrite. Also remember that emails lack intonation and inflection, so you should always reread what you've written to see if it could be taken differently than intended.
Another basic rule of email netiquette is never typing in all caps. When you're online, typing in all caps is considered yelling or screaming. So don't be lazy - turn off the Caps Lock and type properly. Along the lines of avoiding laziness, never leave the Subject field of an email blank. In email netiquette, it's important to fill in the Subject field with a brief description of the content of your email. This will help those you communicate with to organize and manage their email and to judge the importance of your email.
Some of the most important rules in email netiquette pertain to group emails. The most important of which is using the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) field when you need to send an email to several people. By using the BCC field, the recipients get a copy of the e-mail while their e-mail addresses remains invisible and protected from the view of the other recipients. It's also socially appropriate to refrain from forwarding all of those joke emails, chain letters and other unimportant emails to all of your email contacts. These emails are often more annoying than amusing.
This next rule harkens back to the days of Miss Manners. Just as in the written letters of yesteryear, it's important in today's email netiquette to proofread your email for spelling errors, capitalize your sentences and use appropriate punctuation and grammar. Proper formatting is crucial to building credibility with online business contacts and it shows others you value them. Even if you know someone one well, you should never insult them by showing them they are not worth the time it would take for you to communicate properly with them. Particularly when it comes to business communication, your emails should be readable, professional and reflect your commitment to excellence.
As a subset, or mini-culture, of the Internet, online dating has some of its own rules for email netiquette designed to keep you safe and foster relationships. The first rule to keep you safe is never to give out personal information at the beginning. If you have a signature set up in your email that gives your name and address - delete it when first communicating with an online contact. Also, remember not to bombard your romantic interest with emails. When you email your interest, give them a week to respond. If there's no response, email netiquette says one more email is appropriate. If you still don't hear back, cut your losses and move on.
There's nothing worse than coming across as desperate. With these simple, easy-to-follow email netiquette rules, you'll be well on your way to thriving on the World Wide Web. Happy Surfing!