A Guide to E-Mail List Netiquette

Co-authored by Blair Anderson and Julian Marsh

1. If you receive an E-mail that annoys you, draft a reply and sit on it for twenty-four hours. Once you have calmed down, re-read the original posting that caused so much offense, then re-read your draft reply and then re-write it. Then read it again. Then send it. If your software does not allow you to compose off-line, get an E-mail package that allows you to do so.

2. Correspondents come from different cultures, with different ethics, morals, and norms of behaviour. It is probably a good idea for all of us to try and consider what the effects of our words, without the modifiers of body language and intonation, will be, when read by someone who has little in common with us.

3. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have English as our first language should be mindful of the fact that there are many who will miss the subtleties and nuances that are obvious to Anglophones and may therefore misinterpret or misunderstand the message.

4. When replying to an E-mail, delete those parts of the original that are not relevant to your reply. Don't delete everything in the original - "I agree" in isolation is meaningless.

5. Subject - please make sure that the text in the "Subject:" field reflects the contents of your E-mail

6. Flaming - this is not permitted. If you object to what someone says and are unable to respond in a civil manner, then don't respond at all, or, if you really must, don't be upset when the recipient retaliates.

7. Spamming - using E-mail to advertise - again, don't do it. Obviously there is a fine line between drawing someone's' attention to a product you think might interest them and trying to sell them a product. If you discover such a product, let people know the URL or snail mail address of the business that sells it.

8. Emoticons - these can be used to great effect to substitute for real body language. Here's a list:

:-) smiley face/happy

;-) wink

8-) eye-glasses

:-( frown/sad

:-@ scream

:-O yell

:-| indifference

:-/ perplexed

;-} leer

:-e disappointment

:-> devilish grin

:-D shock or surprise

:-P wry smile

:-Q smoker

=:-) chef

:-! foot in mouth

:-{ mustache

d:-) baseball smiley

:-& tongue-tied

:- male

>- female

9. Acronyms - These can be used to great effect as long as everyone knows the code to break them:

Acronym Translation


BCNU Be seeing you

BTW By the way

FWIW For what it's worth

FAQ Frequently asked questions

F2F Face to face

FYI For your information

IMHO In my humble opinion

IRL In real life

OBO Or best offer

ONO Or nearest offer

ROTFL Rolling on the floor laughing

TNSTAAFL There's no such thing as a free lunch

TTFN Ta ta for now

TTYL Talk to you later

10. Try not be too dogmatic. "You are wrong!" will upset the recipient. "I don't think this is right." or "Are you sure that..." is far softer and less likely to offend.

11. Avoid the use of racial, religious, sexual, or cultural stereotypes wherever possible.

12. Avoid the use of swear words.

13. Attachments - remember that most people have to pay to download their e-mail. A large bitmap as an attachment will cost them money. Attachments on the lists are generally not allowed through. There are exceptions - certain MIME-type E-mail messages get sent as attachments - or not.

14. Shouting - NOT ALLOWED!

15. Emphasis - can be done in one of two ways, through asterisks. (*Emphasis*) Alternatively, use underlining _such as this_. DO NOT USE ALL CAPITAL OR UPPERCASE LETTERS. This is shouting and is frowned upon.

Please heed these rules and everyone will get along just fine!

Other Netiquette suggestions?

e-mail to: 1adam12 [at] designmassif [dot] com