DAMIEN STEPHENS

Is there such a thing as online etiquette?

Well yep, there’s supposed to be. In fact, there’s entire websites dedicated to keeping ourselves cyber-nice. Problem is, online interaction can breed a disregard for basic courtesies we extend people in the flesh.

It’s easy to hide behind a monitor and be a bitch. And the net often affords anonymous trolls with a bravado they’d never carry into daily life. There always some community skirmish where people just seem to lose sight of the topic at hand, with threads often resembling virtual scrag fights.
So just what are the rules?

Far too many to include here, so I’ll try and stick to the basics. I’m no expert, but bottom line is common sense prevails. Just play fair. Maybe check-out the guidelines for chat forums and online communities if in doubt. You know those T&C’s you scrolled through to click -˜Yes I accept’ without reading? Them.

Stay on topic, don’t bombard others with inane brain-farts, and don’t -˜shout’ by typing in capitals. Don’t be offensive or say anything you wouldn’t in person and don’t be over-familiar. And for heaven’s sake people, don’t set up fake profiles to post inflammatory remarks. Not only is it kinda illegal and easily traced, it’s just not kosher.

Email protocol at work is whole other ball game, fraught with its own set of conundrums. Facebook has a few handy tips. A good rule of thumb is never post anything you wouldn’t want your boss or mother to see. Don’t over-share or compromise someone else’s privacy in public forums. Then there’s the -˜friend-poachers’. I once received a request from someone for whom I could have cared less, who -˜hijacked’ my list, removed me, then considered themselves important enough to block me! Not cool.

Anyway. I do try to keep my FB list to peeps with whom I’ve have some association, and I’m not much of a loiterer, so tend to gloss over cryptic posts or chatty threads.

But we’re a funny bunch aren’t we? While my hetero friends usually stick to people they know, we just can’t seem to help ourselves.

And sidebar – is it wrong to add someone just because they’re hot? I know I’m guilty of accepting people I don’t really know, some of whom later bite the dust when I find time to cull the randoms.

It’s a strangely satisfying experience.

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