Many of us use the Internet every day to search for information, to market our services and products, to communicate with our colleagues and associates, and to socialize with others. A number of folks have suggested proper ways to safely and properly communicate online.
David Chiles is a Washington real estate agent and speaker on effective use of the Internet. When it comes to proper and safe netiquette (Internet etiquette), he recommends the following:
Spell Check and Proof Read
Increased credibility accompanies correct spelling and reduces typos, and so does the use of standard language (non-slang). You want to be viewed as credible and trustworthy by those with whom you are communicating online. The standard and proper use of language can be an important step in building and earning that credibility.
Do not use all caps
Using all CAPS is viewed as a form of yelling at the recipient of your message. This form is, according to Chiles, a way of getting someone’s attention through intimidation. No one likes to be intimidated. So, avoiding all CAPS can help build that desired trustworthiness.
Tell the truth
Telling the truth is a way to not only maintain the integrity of the internet, but to gain the trust of those with whom you are in communication electronically. Once trust is broken, it is very difficult to rebuild. It is best to earn trust, keep it and protect it from being broken. Truth-telling goes a long way in that respect.
Chiles suggests that we do not try to be something (or someone) we are not. Honesty in presenting ourselves maintains the reality of the conversation. There is also the legal aspect and the quest for credibility. What you say can be traced back to you. There really is no anonymity online. So, trying to put on a false identity can backfire easily and can break any trust that might have already been built.
Do not flame
Flaming is a form of insult online. Again, very few folks actually like to be insulted. Flaming is a tactic, as Chiles reminds us, used by bad people. Thus, when WE flame, we run the risk of being seen as a bad person and that can lead to broken and lost credibility and its accompanying trust.
Stay away from spam(stay safer)
Be conservative in email
No, not conservative in the political sense. Chiles notes that, “less is more in terms of email. Be brief and do not send too many emails because it decreases the quality of them. Conservative composition and sending ensures your messages are read. No one reads long emails completely and people who send too many emails get ignored. If your email is not read it is low quality no matter how well you wrote it.” Here’s where the KISS principle can be applied (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart/Stupid).
Do not send email at night
Since the majority of us sleep at night, Chiles recommends not sending email late at night. Some folks might wonder what it is you are doing awake at a very late hour and could even draw inaccurate conclusions about you and your lifestyle when emails are sent after most folks are asleep. Here, again, we don’t want to lose the trust of others and, even though it may seem a bit far-fetched, this issue can cause problems. Better safe than sorry.
Shop secure sites(stay even safer)
Shopping on site that use the https:// in their address bars can save lots of issues later. These sites use encryption technology to maintain the security of your information. Other sites may not be so protective and your information can be more readily used by others or the site may be more easily hacked into and your information stolen. It should be noted that, not only can your credit information be stolen, but some sellers required additional information and if that information is hacked, your life can become a nightmare. Beware of sellers who require information that does not seem appropriate for the purchase you are making (person information that might be used for malicious purposes).
Use Discretion online
When you create and maintain your social media pages, again, be honest. It is easy to create fictitious information and to befriend others using this fake identity. This lack of responsible identity can lead to meeting other people who aren’t who THEY say they are either. Insults and illegal notions can escalate and you might find yourself in a situation unlike any you ever wanted to experience. Chiles also reminds us that legal activity is the only kind of activity to engage in online as law enforcement is monitoring for such activities as terrorism, child pornography, gang activity, and cyber bullying (an issue with increased severity over the past decade)
Regardless of what your intentions are online, it is wise to be straight-forward and honest, to build trust with others, and to maintain a healthy respect for the power of using the Internet. The Internet can be a tool that can vastly improve our livers, but when abused, it can be a demon that can haunt our actions for a very long time.
More on Internet safety issues and proper use
From David Chiles
Social media: Use only as directed
Internet murder plot
Internet murder target
Formal and Informal Strategies for Dealing with Sexual Harassment workshop