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  • Netiquette
    Good manners online
    Using good manners online—Netiquette—is just as important as showing courtesy and consideration anywhere else in your world. Just because you're not face-to-face with someone while communicating is no reason to decline to the equivalent of SHOUTING, por speleng and punkchewation: and resorting to IAIA (Incomprehensible And Intriguing Acronyms). Whether you're a kid in a chat room or an executive conducting international communications, it's just good policy to put your best e-foot forward.

    Do you think you've got a grasp of good online etiquette? Try this simple online etiquette quiz and see how well you do. Chances are you won't be surprised—you'll see that when it comes to being a considerate and effective communicator online, common sense is, as always, a good guide. But the Internet is a big, complicated environment, and it's not always easy to determine what's a right or wrong way to express yourself from one place to another. Even the experienced cyberspace traveler knows it's wise to bring along a trusty Netiquette guide.
    Email, chat rooms, bulletin boards
    The majority of everyone's interactions online is done via email. It's the 21st Century pony super express, by which hearts are won, business is transacted, dates are made and broken, documents transferred, and grandparents the world over can "ooh" and "ahh" over attached photos of their grandkids. Even though it's a new century, we all still appreciate the old pleasantries and courtesies. And brushing up on email etiquette is something from which we can all benefit. It's also very important to know and observe the ins and outs of good email etiquette for business.

    Some of the most popular places on the Net are chat rooms, bulletin boards, and news groups. Here, people can share stories, opinions, and otherwise enjoy subjects in common with others. For the most part, these are friendly environments and their participants like to keep it that way. So, learning how to practice chat room etiquette is something that will keep you in good standing. And, yes, this goes for kids, too.

    When it comes to these kinds of sites, know that where passions are shared, sometimes passions are flared. One of the results of mixing strong views is what's called flame wars, rapid exchange of opinion, criticism, and sometimes downright nastiness. A general rule of thumb here is: Know where you are. There are some Web sites that actually encourage heated exchange with its guests and members, but for the most part it's really best to check your e-cool. Most sites ask for and appreciate your nice behavior. But if you should ever find yourself in a tight spot, defend yourself with knowledge and check out this article on how to avoid online conflict.

    Grammar & punctuation
    No, you won't be required to take out your Number 2 pencil and Blue Book (to understand what this means, ask someone over 35). Use of proper grammar, good spelling, and punctuation doesn't have to be a chore. It doesn't have to be used at all! But if you want others to understand what you're really trying to say, then a little bit of effort wouldn't hurt.

    The Internet may well be the world's greatest repository of knowledge and information, and you'll find online grammar guides in plentiful supply. They range from plain and simple to advanced and headache-inducing. No one is going to hold your feet over a fire—refresh your appreciation of good grammar at your own pace, in your own way. But at the very least, do keep a dictionary at your fingertips.

    The use of acronyms online—well, some people get it, and some people don't. (The brevity of this paragraph should tell you which camp I'm in.) If you get it and want to learn more, or if you don't get it and want to get started—get your hot, fresh acronyms here!

    BTW (By the way), the acronym at the beginning of this article stands for Be Right Back, My Dog Is On Fire.

    We hope this helps solve your dilemma.