Netiquette exists to help people to communicate more effectively whilst online, and so avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and potential conflicts. Without a sound understanding of netiquette you run the risk of displaying cyberbullying related behaviour without even being aware of it.
Netiquette is a new term to many of us. It combines two words: internet and etiquette, and is defined as:
‘Showing courtesy and respect to other internet users, just as you would in real life.’
Written communication takes place without the benefit of body language, tone of voice or facial expressions, which means there can be uncertainty about what someone is really saying.
This is why most sites where users can communicate in this way have accepted rules of behaviour. These codes of practice have developed to ensure people are able to communicate clearly and avoid misunderstandings (Please see Examples of Good Netiquette for more in depth information and examples of accepted online behaviour).
Each site – whether a discussion board, social network or forum – will have their own rules about how to use their site responsibly, so always read them before you start posting (See our Guide to Social Networks). For further and more detailed information around the subject of netiquette please explore the following recommendations.