Netiquette and Ethics

In addition to formal policies, regulations, and/or laws which may govern use of computers and networks, the internet user community observes informal standards of conduct, often called "netiquette". These standards have evolved from users' experiences and their desire to foster an environment that makes using the internet a positive, productive, experience. Netiquette "no-no's" include:

  • flaming (sending highly insulting or provoking email);
  • asking questions before reading posted FAQ's (Frequently Asked Question lists);
  • responding to entire mailing lists instead of to one person;
  • sending email with rampant spelling or grammar errors;
  • forwarding hoaxes or chain mail.

Spamming, that is, causing the widespread distribution of unsolicited email, is not only annoying -- it also may cause excessive strain on computing facilities. Therefore it is prohibited by the University of California Electronic Communications Policy section on Appropriate Use: "III.D.7. Interference".

The recommended response to netiquette infringements is to attempt to work directly with the perpetrator. If that is not successful, then contact the postmaster of the system which the person used.

The term "ethics" is often used in discussions of the effects which widespread use of the Internet has had, and will have, on society. Some resources related to netiquette and ethics include: