“Netiquette” is short for “Internet Etiquette” and serves to define what is and is not appropriate behavior in an online environment. The following netiquette guidelines serve as a baseline for students and all participants in LMU Loyola Law School activities (e.g., classes, events, etc.) that have an online component.

General Netiquette

Adapted from the book Netiquette by Virginia Shea.

1. Remember the Human

When communicating electronically, whether through email, instant message, discussion post, text, or some other method, remember that your words are read by real people, all deserving of respectful conversation.

2. Use the Same Standards of Behavior Online That You Would Follow in Real Life

The virtual world is different in some respects, but those differences do not in any way lower the appropriate standards of behavior. Continue to follow all laws and ethical standards whether online or in person.

3.  Know Where You Are in Cyberspace  

Remember that how we communicate online in written form may be acceptable in one context and yet inappropriate in another. What you text a friend may not be appropriate in an email or discussion post with classmates, colleagues, professors, or supervisors. Remember your context.

4. Respect Other People’s Time and Bandwidth

Communicating online takes time: Time to read and time in which to thoughtfully respond. Make sure your written communication is meaningful and to the point without extraneous text or superfluous graphics or attachments that may take forever to download. Again, remember the context of the communication.

5.  Take a Moment to Assess

While the virtual world may feel like one can be anonymous, this is rarely the case. The context in which we interact will be different, but we all need to consider what we write and how we present ourselves in video conferences, so keep these tips in mind:

  • Always check your equipment before logging in – take a moment to prepare.
  • Always check spelling and grammar before posting.
  • Know what you are talking about and state it clearly.
  • Be pleasant and polite.

6.  Build Community Through Interaction

One of the benefits of online communication is the ease of sharing and compiling information. If you have a question no one has asked yet, do not be afraid to step up. Odds are, others have similar questions or can offer answers. Together, you can build community.

7.  Help Keep “Flame Wars” under Control

“Flaming” is a term used to describe when people express a strongly held opinion without holding back any emotion. A “flame war” occurs when a handful of people exchange angry posts with each other with no desire to come to a solution. Do not feed the flames! Instead, try to guide the discussion or conversation back to a more productive direction.

8.  Respect Other People’s Privacy

Whether you are reading posts or participating in a video conference, chances are you will be exposed to some private or personal information that needs to be handled with care. Just as you expect others to respect your privacy, respect the privacy of others. Some ways you can do this:

  • NEVER record anything or take photos of anyone/anything without explicit, enthusiastic, affirmative consent from those involved.
  • Keep class or group discussion content within the class.
  • Do not post any class or group content to social media without the explicit permission of those involved. Your classmate may have agreed to a photo to be kept within the group, not broadcast to the world.

9.  Do Not Abuse Your Power

Like in “face-to-face” situations, there are those online who may have more “power” than others. They may have better technology at their disposal or years of experience with a particular skill or subject matter. Remember: Knowing more than or having more power than others does not give you the right to take advantage of anyone. Think of rule 1: Remember the human.

10.  Be Forgiving of Other People’s Mistakes

Everyone has different levels of experience working in the virtual world. At some point, someone may make a mistake, misspell something, or ask what you would consider an unnecessary question. When this happens, practice the same kindness and forgiveness you would hope others would extend to you if you had committed the same mistake. If it is a minor mistake, maybe let is slide. If you believe the mistake needs to be addressed, approach the offender in a private manner first instead of putting them “on blast” immediately in a public forum.