Rules for Online Etiquette

Rules for online etiquette, or Netiquette, begin with being respectful of others while engaging in Information Technology Communication(ICT). According to Berk, as seen in his summary article of online etiquette, “Top 12 Be-Attitudes of Netiquette for Academians,” declares there are twelve rules for users to follow, although his focus is for those in Academia, he hopes all users will take heed to his warnings. These twelve rules include using appropriate language, grammar, and spelling. In addition, Berk warns users to be as brief as possible in email and other forms of communication, and to be cautious when communicating with colleagues.

Of these rules, I believe I have violated many, if not all, at one time or another. Fresh in my mind because it happened only a few weeks ago, is a text altercation between myself and a colleague. Stemming from a comment I made in a meeting earlier in the week, I made a comment to this person, and he did not receive the barb as I intended. Quickly, the anger spilled out over our phones while in a group message text. Needless to say, we were both at fault, and both embarrassed, as we had never intended those comments. We agreed it was harmful and fruitless to act as we did, particularly within the confines of the group text, where other colleagues could see our written reactions. I wrote things I most likely would have never said in person, and that troubled me. I learned from that experience.

Perhaps that was my worst example of me going beyond the bounds of acceptable and responsible communication over new media. Although I have been known to click on the “Reply All” button when intending a message for only one individual in the group. I was replying to a friend – or so I thought –  at work, and I wrote a few sentences about a colleague who I judged as being unfair. This person’s opinion was well known, and in the email I analyzed her opinion and debunked each one of her points. It was nothing earth shattering, and she was going to hear that information at some point in the future, however, I wish I had paid more attention to the “Reply/Reply All.” That led to an awkward moment, but thankfully, not much more than that.

I work in a school that values professional development – particularly for new teachers in years 1 – 5 teaching at the school. In these “formative” years, it is particularly important to address netiquette or online etiquette. These themes are addressed during a three-day training prior to the beginning of the school year. The Prep also has a program for Alumni, called the Alumni Service Corps. Some of the young men return to teach at the Prep. Many times these individuals are very intelligent, however, even the brightest of students need “polishing.” As these new teachers are fresh out of college, they begin a training program in August that lasts through the academic year. One of the first areas of content for Alumni Service Corps teachers is professional correspondence. I start with always using proper spelling, grammar, and most importantly uppercase letters. Many new professionals do not realize the importance of portraying a professional presence when connecting with students and parents in email. These Alumni teachers usually meet once every two weeks to discuss professional development topics.

Netiquette relates to “Digital Citizenship” through the simple, yet tremendously important idea of being responsible while online and corresponding through email. Being aware of one’s civic duty while online is an essential theme in digital citizenship. Also, using proper Netiquette is recognizing that the individual agrees to the social norms and participate in the civilized world of online communication. The three themes of Digital Citizenship, student learning, the student experience, and the student’s life beyond the school are areas to address and train students and new teachers in the “How to’s in online communication”.


Berk, R. A. (2011d). Top 12 be-attitudes of netiquette for academicians. Journal of Faculty

          Development, 25(3), 45-48.

Common Sense Media. (2011) Digital Literacy and Citizenship in the 21st Century. San

           Francisco. Retrieved from

Malroy, R, Verock-O’Loughlin, R, Edwards, S., Woolf, B. (2016). Transforming Learning 

          with New Technologies (3rd ed). Boston, MA: Pearson.


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