Netiquette guidelines

Online netiquette

Guidelines on participation and interacting with others in an online course environment

These guidelines apply whether a course is wholly or partially conducted online.

The practices of courtesy and respect that apply to working with any group also apply online, and, as students cannot see each other, these practices may require even more attention over the Internet. Below are some guidelines to help.

By enrolling on your course, you are agreeing to abide by the netiquette guidelines, which are there to help you and your fellow students make the most of the course.

1. Participate

In the online environment, it's not enough just to “turn up”. If you don't join in, no-one will know that you are there!

2. Share questions and tips

Questions you send to the discussion board will help others, and taking part in discussions will help you to learn. It is often the case that where a student encounters a problem, it is the experience of other students that is most valuable.

Students come to a course from a range of different backgrounds and cultures, so that there will be within a group a great deal of relevant, and complementary, experience. This means that all members have something to contribute.

3. Think before you click

Before you post your comments, check through what you have written. Did you say exactly what you meant? How will the person on the other end read the words? While you can't anticipate all reactions, do read your messages carefully before you send them.

4. Remember that we can't see the grin on your face

When you make (for example) an ironic comment, others can't see the expression on your face if you only say a couple of words or write something which may seem harsh or critical. People can't necessarily read your mind and “fill in the gaps” if you abbreviate your comments.

Help others to “see” you by explaining your ideas fully. You could also use an emoji to let the reader know that your comment is meant to be ironic or funny.

5. Remember that there is a person who will be reading your message.

Because visual clues are often lacking in online communication, electronic messages can easily seem harsher than they are intended to be. If you disagree with what someone has said, please bear this in mind as you express that disagreement. Ask for feedback if you are not sure how your ideas and comments will be taken.

Offensive or aggressive language is not acceptable, and any such posts will be removed from the discussion areas (and could even lead to disciplinary action – see 7. below). If you feel offended by another person’s post, you can take the matter to your tutor, who will help you to resolve it.

6. Keep your messages short and to the topic

When composing your messages, aim to express your thoughts concisely. While you will want to explain your point clearly, a very long message can have the same effect as someone “holding forth” or “rambling” in an in-person discussion. Practise your communication skills by “listening” to others, as well as expressing your ideas. In addition, lengthy messages on-screen can be tedious to read, and may lose readers’ attention as well as lessen the likelihood of receiving a response.

7. Serious or persistent breaches of the netiquette guidelines

If your tutor considers that your postings are in breach of these guidelines, or are derogatory, offensive or inappropriate, they will have them removed, and will warn you to moderate your behaviour. Persistent or serious breaches of the code (that might constitute, for example, harassment, unlawful discrimination, or a breach of University computer usage regulations) will be reported to the Department; this may lead to disciplinary action being taken against you under the University’s disciplinary procedures, which could result in a penalty such as a fine, suspension or expulsion.


Revised in August 2023