What is it?

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. 

Online Classroom Netiquette

Minimum netiquette standards expected in all Loyola Law School online course-related communication

  • NOTE:

Please note that your professors may choose to have additional and higher communication expectations beyond the standards described below:

Follow standard communication rules

There are a number of conventions that are offensive or inappropriate in online communication. Avoid writing in ALL CAPS (this is considered yelling online), using text speak, slang, or curse words. It may not be appropriate to use emoticons or emojis, so check your context first.

Avoid sarcasm

Although a statement may seem funny to you, the reality is that sarcasm, especially in writing, can be extremely difficult to detect. Try to avoid sarcasm in your communication to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings and arguments.

Do a check before posting/sending

See if anyone has already asked a question and received a reply. Check the most recent comments on a post before replying to an older comment. Do a quick check of the FAQs or search the Internet to see if there may be an answer already provided for your question.

Respect other’s opinions

Remember, this does not mean that you have to agree with them. If you feel the need to disagree, do so respectfully and acknowledge the valid points in the other person’s argument. If you do choose to engage, make sure your answer is thoughtful, accurate, and respectful.

Be brief

Before writing a dissertation in response to someone’s question, consider if you can communicate your thoughts concisely to keep the discussion going and encourage others to chime in.

Be Forgiving

Mistakes will happen. Try to roll with it unless it is something egregious. If you feel that the mistake needs to be addressed, start by addressing it privately with your classmate or professor instead of shaming them publicly. “Do unto others…”

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.