The Core Rules of Netiquette

Written by Virginia Shea


Rule 1. Remember the human.

Never forget that the person reading your mail or posting is, indeed, a person, with feelings that can be hurt.

Corollary 1 to Rule #1: It’s not nice to hurt other people’s feelings.

Corollary 2: Never mail or post anything you wouldn’t say to your reader’s face.

Corollary 3: Notify your readers when flaming.

Rule 2. Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life.

Corollary 1: Be ethical.

Corollary 2: Breaking the law is bad Netiquette.

Rule 3. Know where you are in cyberspace.

Corollary 1: Netiquette varies from domain to domain.

Corollary 2: Lurk before you leap.

Rule 4. Respect other people’s time and bandwidth.

Corollary 1: It’s OK to think that what you’re doing at the moment is the most important thing in the universe, but don’t expect anyone else to agree with you.

Corollary 2: Post messages to the appropriate discussion group.

Corollary 3: Try not to ask stupid questions on discussion groups.

Corollary 4: Read the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document.

Corollary 5: When appropriate, use private email instead of posting to the group.

Corollary 6: Don’t post subscribe, unsubscribe, or FAQ requests.

Corollary 7: Don’t waste expert readers’ time by posting basic information.

Corollary 8: If you disagree with the premise of a particular discussion group, don’t waste the time and bandwidth of the members by telling them how stupid they are. Just stay away.

Corollary 9: Conserve bandwidth when you retrieve information from a host or server.

Rule 5. Make yourself look good online.

Corollary 1: Check grammar and spelling before you post.

Corollary 2: Know what you’re talking about and make sense.

Corollary 3: Don’t post flame-bait.

Rule 6. Share expert knowledge.

Corollary 1: Offer answers and help to people who ask questions on discussion groups.

Corollary 2: If you’ve received email answers to a posted question, summarize them and post the summary to the discussion group.

Rule 7. Help keep flame wars under control.

Corollary 1: Don’t respond to flame-bait.

Corollary 2: Don’t post spelling or grammar flames.

Corollary 3: If you’ve posted flame-bait or perpetuated a flame war, apologize.

Rule 8. Respect other people’s privacy.

Don’t read other people’s private email.

Rule 9. Don’t abuse your power.

The more power you have, the more important it is that you use it well.

Rule 10. Be forgiving of other people’s mistakes.

You were a network newbie once too!



Flaming is the online act of posting insults, often laced with profanity or other offensive language on social networking sites.[1] This term should not be confused with the term trolling, which is the act of someone going online, or in person, and causing discord. Flaming emerged out of the anonymity that internet forums provide cover for users to act more aggressively.[2] Anonymity can lead to disinhibition, which results in the swearing, offensive, and hostile language characteristic of flaming. Lack of social cues, less accountability of face-to-face communications, textual mediation and deindividualization are also likely factors.[3] Deliberate flaming is carried out by individuals known as flamers, which are specifically motivated to incite flaming. These users specialize in flaming and target specific aspects of a controversial conversation. Source:

What does lurk before you leap mean on the internet?

That you should familiarize yourself with a website’s content (or topic for chat) before making a contribution. Source: