These are the (mostly) unwritten rules of using the internet. Failure to follow these rules may get you hated, hounded or hunted. There are so many, I didn't know how to organize this page, so pay attention to the headlines and know the general guidelines to all the rules.
Most of these rules have to do with e-mail, as this is the most common way to communicate over the web. Keep in mind that this applies when making pages as well. What you post can be seen by anyone, anywhere, and it all can be traced back to you. Never print, publish or even e-mail something you wouldn't want your grandmother, neighbors, parents and future employer to know about.
E-Mail, Instant Messages and Chatting
Advantages of e-mail over regular (snail) mail
You can save it
It is considered impersonal (you wouldn't send wedding invitations out this way)
It may not be read immediately
There is no proof the other person received it
It is NOT secure
Privacy Because information is so easily exchanged, nothing on the internet is 100% secure. Some sites, such as credit card sites and good businesses, make extra effort to protect their customers, but identity theft can happen. For minors, there are even more things to be worried about. NEVER give out ANY personal information in an instant message or an e-mail. Never print your Social Security Number, phone number, address, credit card number, or anything like it online. Never say anything in an IM or e-mail that you wouldn't want read outloud to the world.
Chat rooms and instant message conversations may be fun, but keep your wits about you. Strangers are dangerous online too. Never give personal information to someone you don't know. Never send a picture to a stranger. Don't tell the person your name, age, location or any other information that pertains to you personally. Don't trust everything they tell you. It's hard to tell truth from lies online. Never, EVER, arrange to meet with someone you don't know, especially if you don't have a parent present. There are some horrible predators out there. Be safe.
E-Mail Formatting E-mail is less formal than English class, but there are some rules you should follow here too. Remember, that while these rules apply to everyone, don't berate (make fun of) people if they haven't learned these. Hold yourself to a high standard, but be forgiving of others.
Capitalization Do not send an e-mail in all capital letters. All-caps is only used when emphasizing, or shouting something. YOU WOULDN'T WANT SOMEONE SHOUTING AT YOU FOR AN ENTIRE E-MAIL. IT IS REALLY RUDE. And you're not E. E. Cummings either. Learn to use capitals correctly.
Do not indent paragraphs online. Instead, there should be a space between paragraphs. Sentences should have the same structure in an English paper. When forwarding a document or an e-mail, make sure all the extra spaces are removed and only one copy of the forward is sent. In other words, make it look nice and presentable. Oh yeah, writing in rainbow colors or yellow on white is nasty. Just say no.
Some guidelines on what to forward to your friends, co-workers, teachers, strangers and so forth... Do not send anything that says you should send it to a group of people. Do not send anything asking for money, sympathy, good fortune, your love life to improve, or anything that has a chain-mail feel to it. Do not forward large files just because they're cute. Know the person who you're sending the mail to. If it's not worth their time, don't send it. Don't expect a reply from a forward. Do not send anything that says if you send it to a certain number of people, a window will pop up on your computer. When in doubt, don't send it. Oh, and the e-mail saying if you don't send it to your friends, they'll shut down your acccount? Phony.
Spelling and Grammar
and sentence structure and punctuation and everything else they've taught you still applies. Nothing makes you look like a moron faster than grotesque use of the language. DO it right. Also, remember your audience. If the person on the other end isn't familiar with internet jargon, don't use abbreviations or terms that only net-savvy people know. ROTFL, TTYL, :-), LOL and BRB are fine in their place, but don't use them around people who don't know what they are. And DON'T overuse them. Smilies like my friend here => :-) shouldn't be used every sentence. LOL should actually mean you're laughing out loud. Don't say BRB if you aren't going to be right back. By the way, the other two are "rolling on the floor laughing" and "talk to ya later."
Letter Length and addressing E-mails should be short. If the note you are sending is ten pages long, it probably shouldn't be sent via e-mail. Stick to the point and keep it friendly. Some things should NEVER be done via e-mail. No internet break-ups. DOn't discuss personal things on e-mail. Don't get too emotional in an e-mail. Don't waste the other person's time. Always be sure to include your name at the bottom of the mail and make sure if you don't want return mail sent to the address you mailed from, let the person know.
Flaming, etc. Flaming is when you send hateful things in an e-mail or while messaging or chatting. Often, flaming is done in capital letters to convey the anger, but anytime rude things are said, it is considered flaming. Do not send hateful e-mails. Ever. Once a student got an e-mail address under a false name and sent a nasty note to a teacher. Within 24 hours, this had been traced back to the student and he was suspended. Don't do it. Legal and moral rules still apply, even if you're hiding behind a false identity. If you break any of the above mentioned rules, you increase your chances of getting flamed. Be smart about the internet and you'll be ok.
Your Web Pages
It's the easiest thing to lift a graphic off of the internet, but posting a graphic on your site may be illegal. Check for copywrite information. There are plenty of free images out there, but remember that any time you pretend another person's work is your own, you're violating copywrite. Be careful when using another person's graphic. Also, some images, especially those from popular television shows and movies, are restricted or trade marked. People have gotten sued for "fan pages" which used such images. When in doubt, send an e-mail to the owner of the site. They'll let ya know.
Copywrite violation Not only is it illegal to steal pictures, but it's illegal (and wrong) to pretend another person's words are your own. This is plagarism. Cutting and pasting, putting something in quotes which wasn't a valid quote, not citing a source when you use another person's information, changing a quote, changing a few words on a paper and claiming it's yours are all violations. Either cite your source or don't use it.
Link Structure When using links on a website, make sure the person knows what they're linking to. While we'll be covering this more when we discuss links, you should know why certain links are considered poor structure. Below are 4 examples of bad structure for linking to this page, and two decent examples. See if you can find out why they're so lousy. Move your mouse over the links.