Online Communities

Minding your netiquette

With social media just an app away, getting involved in online communities has never been easier, though the rules of communicating online differ slightly to in person. Here are some of our tips for staying safe online:

The way you behave online can sometimes mean thinking carefully about decisions you may usually take for granted in person. Without facial expressions, body language or even voices it can be difficult to convey what you mean without misunderstanding. One useful way to look at this is the idea of your "netiquette" or net etiquette to safeguard against misunderstandings and to be mindful of your behaviour within different online communities.

Remember the human

When you're online and behind a screen it can be easy to forget that you're interacting with another person and not anonymous usernames or profile pictures. While the internet brings so many benefits it can sometimes dehumanise others, especially when you are interacting with someone you don't know personally. So remember the human. Don't say something to someone online that you would never say to them in person. It's also useful to consider that online interactions are nearly always recorded, which can remove that anonymity.

Know where you are

Sometimes online etiquette can vary from website to website, so what is acceptable in one environment is not always acceptable in another. For example, the way you interact and behave on university websites or discussion forums will be very different to how you behave on a social network. When you approach a new website, take a moment to see how people communicate and interact with one another, then jump in and have fun.

Make yourself look good

Make sure you share with care. It is always advisable not to share anything embarrassing, illegal or inappropriate. People you have not even met, like potential future employers may look you up online.

Keeping it truthful

Sharing is one of the principles behind the majority of internet services, from creating a 'how to guide' on YouTube, or contributing to an online forum, it can be a positive experience. Remember not to post anything untruthful online, it is very easy for untruths, errors and mistakes to become accepted as fact.

Keep disagreements healthy

People are always going to disagree on things, and that's healthy. Such disagreements can be about often heated subjects like politics, religion and philosophy, or they can be relatively trivial. When involved in any debate, it is important to be respectful of others involved. Never reduce the discussions to personal issues and avoid inappropriate language.

Respect other people’s privacy

When you are networked to someone on a social media website, you may be given access to information about the individual and what they like or share. You need to make sure you don't breach anyone's wishes by sharing personal content without their permission.

Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes

Everyone starts at the beginning and as a result those who are new to online environments may make mistakes. Be forgiving and help guide people, we're all new to a community at one point or another, so always remember the human behind the screen.

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