Human communication is mostly non-verbal: 80-90% of communication between humans are sent by eyes, hands, twitchy noses and other body language. We humans are a very visual bunch! When visual signals are removed from communication, like on the Internet, something else has to take needs to take it’s place. Letters on a screen can’t take the place of body language no matter how many smileys are added. Netiquette is a set of rules that all Netizens (users of the Internet) agree to use so misunderstanding and miscommunication is kept to a minimum.

Here’s a some Netiquette Rules:
Here’s an even longer version More Netiquette

There are many areas when the rules of Netiquette apply. One of the most important is E-Mail.
Here are two messages:
Version 1:
Version 2
I recently saw your profile on Craigslist. I am also Pisces that loves long walks on the beach. Please reply to this email or IM me so we can chat more 😉

Both are creepy, but the bottom one is more Netiquette friendly. Here are the problems with the top version:
1. Using all capital letters – On the Internet all capital letters signify screaming or yelling. Better save that when complaining to the IRS or UPS.
2. Spelling mistakes and missing grammar. Check spelling and grammar before sending correspondence.
3. Too many exclamation marks. It’s OK to use 2 or 3, but it better be really exciting news after 3 exclamation points.

Knowledge of Netiquette is very important during Instant Messaging. Often during instant messaging participants will use acronyms or short forms of words in order to speed up typing. It is good Netiquette to use these acronyms, but not too many. It is also important to understand the acronyms. Here are a few that you might during your next chat:

IMHO – In my honest opinion
ROTFL – Rolling on the floor laughing
TTYL – Talk to you later
OMG – Oh my God!
WTF – That’s difficult to believe (translation)
Here’s a huge list of acronyms

Another important feature of Netiquette is knowing when to avoid emoticons and acronyms. When using email for formal business correspondence, use smiley faces and phrases like WTF at your peril! Email is by its nature less formal than hard copy correspondence, so chances are you can get away with a slightly more enthusiastic tone than you could in print (read: more exclamation points). But even here, a business email with more than one sentence punctuated by double exclamation points could raise eyebrows. 😉

Netiquette is an important set of rules to master. It’s a shared group of rules that everyone on the Internet can agree on so we can communicate politely, effectively and hopefully not too much misunderstanding. Outside of some of the specific items to help emotionalize written communications, Netiquette’s main point is just to be nice.