1. Never forget that the person on the other side is a human being. Personal attacks are not appropriate and will not be tolerated. Do not use insults, "put-downs," or negative sarcasm. Even though you are using a computer to communicate, don't forget that other people are on the receiving end. Don't speak (type) hastily -- try not to say anything to others that you would not say to them in a room full of people. Remember that you are playing an important role in building an online community (or class) -- and we all want this community to be a good, friendly, safe place.
2. Be brief. Stay on topic. If you say what you want to say succinctly, it will have greater impact. By reading the previous messages before sending one yourself, you will be able to get a sense of the ongoing themes of the discussion and of what has already been thoroughly stated. Try not to repeat what has already been said. Read responses to messages before you chime in, so that you are not needlessly repetitive. And make sure your responses have substance--answers like "Yup" and "I agree" probably won't be widely appreciated.
3. Your messages reflect on YOU--be proud of them. Although you will meet many classmates through the Internet, chances are you won't meet any of them in person. Most people will only know you by what you say, and how well you say it. Take time to make sure that you are proud of the messages you send. Take time to make sure your messages are easy to read and understand.
4. Use descriptive subject headings in your messages. The subject line of your message is there to help people decide whether or not they want to read it. It is also helpful as a reference to find information in saved messages. Use the subject line to tell people what your message is about. For example, if you are posting a message on the course bulletin for discussion, the subject heading, patient's right to choose death is more informative than the subject heading, "legal/ethical issue."
5. Be careful with humor and sarcasm. Without the voice inflections and body language of personal communications, it is easy for a remark meant to be funny to be misinterpreted.
6. Summarize what you are following up. When you are making a follow-up comment to someone else's message, be sure to summarize the parts of the message to which you are responding. Summarization may include appropriate quotes from the original message. Don't include the entire message, since this could be irritating to people who have already read it.
7. Give back to the class. If you have good and valuable information to share, please do so. The course is strengthened when each person shares from his/her own experience and knowledge.
8. Cite appropriate references. If you are using facts to support a cause, state where they came from. (Adapted by Susie Bunt from Ask Jeeves:Netiquette by Chuq Von Rospach and Gene Spafford in the early days of the Internet)