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41204_42505_0.pngNetiquette guidelines

Netiquette can be defined as Internet manners; the etiquette guidelines for posting messages online. However, these rules can also be applied to conferences and all electronic communication. At the start of the school year set expectations for netiquette in the course syllabus.
Users should also be made aware that FirstClass tracks the history of each message. Other users can view message history to see:
•       who created the message
•       when it was created
•       who has read it and when
•       whether it was forwarded to other e-mail addresses.
Users are less likely to post inappropriate comments if they know their messages can be traced. Although message history should be reviewed when necessary, it should not be abused to the extent of curbing free-flowing discussion. Conferences are intended mainly for collaboration and students should be encouraged to speak their minds.
You never know who may be privy to messages in your conferences. Although you may subscribe only certain users, these users could forward postings to outside recipients. In any case, email and conference participants should always try to make a good impression. It is wise to encourage your students to make their online submissions look as professional as possible. Here are a few tips to pass on to your students:
•       take pride in how you appear to others
•       respect other people's privacy
•       be forgiving of other people’s mistakes
•       direct a critique at the issue rather than at an individual
•       take some time to thoughtfully compose submissions.
It is also a good idea to describe the social rules of online conferencing:
•       do not forward private mail without the creator’s consent
•       messages in a conference belong to the group, and not necessarily to everyone in the school and on the Internet.
The best advice to offer your students is to "read before you send".
One of the biggest drawbacks of communicating electronically is the difficulty of imparting emotions through text. All you see is a computer screen. You don’t have the opportunity to use facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice to convey your message. Another very important point is that international readers may have access to your conferences, or be on your mail lists. Due to cultural differences, these people may not be familiar with slang words and phrases, or colloquialisms.
Here are a few tips for conveying the proper tone:
•       avoid sarcasm
•       avoid jargon
•       use "emoticons" when expressing emotions, as in these examples:
winking ;-)
sad :-(
joking :-)
bored :-0
frowning :-<
said with a smile :-D
•       use capitals only for the start of a sentence and proper nouns
•       use exclamation points rarely and only for emphasis.
Finally, watch how you word potentially volatile submissions. Assume that what you say will be taken in the worst possible way; if someone is upset enough by it, it will come back to haunt you.
Flames are violent written expressions of disapproval. Sometimes it’s all too tempting to tear someone apart for a poorly worded submission, or blatant display of ignorance. Teachers and moderators are the first line of defense against such bad behavior in a conference. However, your students should view online communication as an opportunity to improve their maturity and, thus, promote self control. Here are a few tips to pass on to your students:
•       before sending a message, ask yourself if you would say that to a person’s face
•       behave online as you would in person
•       calm down before responding to what you deem as offensive submissions
•       apologize and use consideration
•       keep your subject clear and on track
•       brevity is always useful, even in discussion conferences
•       quote or rephrase when replying
•       if you can't suppress a response, kind advice in a helpful tone will definitely avoid a lot of flaming
•       always give the benefit of the doubt, and be kind with criticism.
You may want to post the above rules and guidelines on your server for all users to read.