Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Internet Etiquette: “Netiquette” #MissMannersIsWatching

I grew up in a world without computers, cell phones, Internet of any kind unless you count short wave radio; not even calculators. We had telephones with long, curled wires to allow us to move around in the kitchen when we talked on the phone or, during my teenage years, a wire long enough to take the phone in the closet for private conversations away from the big ears of my parents. The only conference calls we had was on phone extensions if you lived in a house with more than one phone or had a phone with a party line (more than one household using the same line.) Etiquette was fairly easy back then: answer the phone politely, ask who is calling, whoever called was the one to end the call (etiquette according my dad) and too bad if they wanted to talk on and on, and ending a call was also to be polite. Some families answered the phone by a greeting and then announcing the surname of the family. (example: Hello, this is the McNeal Residence, may I help you?)

Well, things have changed. First there was e-mail. No one knew what the rules were in the beginning, so it was an anything goes situation. My first publisher was considered innovative for offering e-books. An author’s book had to make a certain sales amount before the book was published in paperback. There was no “Publish On Demand” back then so the publisher had to curtail the cost involved with paperbacks by selecting only those authors who had proven their worth. (I wasn’t one of them.) Keep in mind this was before Amazon changed the world with Kindle. Good luck finding anything to read those e-books from other than a computer. What a drag. Anyway, like most publishers there was a private e-mail line for authors and publishers. Since there was no established etiquette for e-mail, people said whatever they wanted. I remember the day some of the authors were perturbed with how the publisher was handling things and complained about the lack of communication between the authors and the publisher. Things got heated. When I say heated, I mean scorch your eyes out heated. The publisher was as rude and antagonistic as the authors. In the end, the authors left en mass demanding the rights to their work back. I was so disturbed by the way all of this was handled by the publisher on a public forum even though I did not participate, that I quietly waited for my contracts to end and snuck out the back door. The once reputable and innovative publisher still exists today, but is a tattered, pale relic of its former glory after this rude behavior on a public forum.

Yahoo groups were once very popular. Authors and readers gathered into these groups to share ideas and excerpts and converse. There were times when people behaved badly even though, by then, groups published rules for on line behavior. Some excerpts posted contained very descriptive sex scenes and covers that left nothing to the imagination. Yahoo has made it next to impossible to post covers other than in attachments and yahoo groups have given notice that all excerpts must have a rating. Good news since there are some young people in those groups.

Since Facebook made its way to the public it has become a great platform for writers, but once again, the lack of etiquette has caused some problems. We call them trolls, those anonymous people who join a conversation and feel free to say degrading and negative things, call people names, and then disappear. But there are other abuses to etiquette on Facebook mostly due to a lack of understanding the correct behavior in this public forum.

Have you ever had another author blatantly use your Facebook page to advertise their work? Usually they do this when they are either accepting a friend request or thanking you for accepting their friend request—and then you wish you hadn’t when the cover of their latest book and buy tags show up with that thank you. Then there are those who post a thank you sometimes with a giant picture on your post instead of using private messaging. This is particularly annoying if you’ve just posted something on your page. I don’t usually do anything about this kind of post because I don’t think it’s intentionally meant to cause discord. Friend requests are sometimes from people believing somehow that Facebook is a dating site. Ugh!

Twitter is popular, but I have noticed people are quite free with their rude and indelicate remarks on this platform, especially regarding politics and opinions. I’m still getting the hang of hash tags so I’m not a Twitter expert, but I still recognize bad behavior and etiquette. But from what I’ve seen, Twitter almost invites poor etiquette.

So what are some actual rules about etiquette, or I should say, Netiquette? I did some research and here are a few rules I found for proper behavior on line:

1.  Use simple electronic signatures are enough

2.  Do not cross post (post the same message over many channels)

3.  Stay on topic

4.  Do not hijack a thread (my pet peeve)

5.  Do not bash someone or start a flame war

6.  Try not to use all caps because it may look like you’re shouting

7.  Since expression and tone are absent, be sure you make your intent known. Use an emoticon to show your expression or intent or employ an abbreviation such as LOL (laugh out loud) or BRB (be right back), etc.

8.  Minor misspellings or mistakes do not need your comment. If it is a major error, make your comment using basic courtesy or by private message (which is what I would prefer.)

9.  This is a personal peeve of mine: when you make a friend request, please don’t let your next request be for them to like your page. It gives the impression it was your sole purpose for the friend request instead of a common interest or belief.

10.  Above all, be kind.


For further reading about Netiquette:

Zen and the Art of the Internet:

Matthew Strawberg’s Webblog 2009  The rules of netiquette

Diverse stories filled with heart




My Amazon Author’s Page

Prairie Rose Author Page

The Wildings

Prairie Rose Blog

Fantasy & Dreams Blog


  1. Very insightful, helpful and timely, Sarah.
    Thank you.

    1. Lindsay, I hope these things don't happen to you on your social media. It's rough out there what with haters, trolls, rudeness, and people who just don't know how to navigate in a relatively new cyber environment (sort of like me. LOL)
      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it.

  2. Thanks, Sarah. Oh, I hate it when people hijack your thread!

    1. C.A., It happened to me yesterday...twice. But at least it was just people who were thanking me for accepting their friend requests and not really trying to advertise themselves. I forgive them and I don't say anything to them about it because they don't know it's not polite.
      But I really hate when someone tries to advertise themselves on my FB page. It's almost as rude as people who just have to express their mean-spirited inner demons.
      It's always good to see you, C.A. Thank you so much for coming.

  3. Thanks, Sarah, for reminding us all to be kind to one another. It's sometimes so easy to press a button with a rude comment and we later wish we could take it back. But by then, the damage has been done.

    1. We all need to be vigilant about how we present ourselves in public places. As well as just having good manners, it's part of our brand. Who would want to buy books from an author who acts rude and inconsiderate?
      Thank you for your comment, Becky. I appreciate it.

  4. I had to smile at the beginning of your blog, Sarah, because I remember those "party lines". When we finally got telephone service in the farming community, every household had a special ring. I don't remember anymore ours, but you could hear the stealthy clicks as people picked up their phones and listened in. That, I think was the forerunner of what we have now with the internet. My grandmother and mom would talk in German, frustrating the eavesdroppers. As for Yahoo, that's when I started making my on-line friends back in 1999 and have some of them still to this day. Friday nights was so much fun. We'd sit for hours in our group's chatroom and have a ball until past midnight. Writerspace was another place a bunch of hung around in on Saturday night, having fun with writers from all over, even a gal from Australia. I really miss those days. Thanks for your interesting post, Sarah, and yes, if a person practices kindness and the Golden Rule, our social media sites can be fun as well as helpful.

  5. Many of us have unwittingly made faux pas online, so I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt. It always helps to remember that nothing is private, even if you think it is. So only share or say what you're willing to let be public. On Facebook, hide and delete are my friend lol.

    1. Good advice, Kristy. Nothing is private out there on social media. A misstep could be a mistake seen by everyone. Personally, I haven't seen any goofs on your part and definitely not in the snarky world for certain.
      I don't count spelling and typos in the obnoxious category. I make a bunch of those.
      Thank you so much for your comment, Kristy.

  6. Elizabeth, it's funny now how privacy polices were nonexistent back in our childhood. Eyebrows would raise and mouths would open in shock at the things that were put out in the public that today would be put them in danger of identity theft. I remember patients would register to be admitted to the hospital using their birth date and social security numbers. I don't recall a single instance when that information was used to steal anyone's identity back then. But now we have laws protecting people because hackers get into the internet. It's a different world, isn't it?
    That's funny about your grandmother speaking German on the party line to keep the nosy neighbors from knowing her business. My maternal grandmother (Pennsylvania Dutch) spoke German with her friends and sometimes she spoke in German when she was mad. We quickly learned some of those phrases. LOL
    Having conversations in yahoo groups were so much fun and I learned a lot from other authors in those conversations. Alas, yahoo groups have dropped in popularity.
    So good to see you, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for your comment.

  7. I changed the settings so that I have to approve anything posted to my page, and also any tags (Ray Ban, anyone?). If a man with a first name for a last name (George Jim) sends a FR, I delete and block without even looking. It's amazing how many high-ranking military officers in Afghanistan are widowers, too. Wives must have quite a high mortality rate! Clicking or sharing anything that says "Share if you love [Jesus, your daughter, your mother...]" is almost guaranteed to get your account phished at some point. And now they're doing it in Messenger, too, which is really annoying.

    1. Jacquie, I'm going to check out that approval button. I didn't realize had that on FB. Oh lordy, yes, I delete all those soldier guys who are all widowers and I check out the FB page of everyone before I accept them because I want to eliminate over zealous religious and political people and stick to readers, authors, and people who seem good hearted. I still make a few mistakes. It such a crap shoot sometimes.
      What a pleasure to have you come and comment, Jacquie.

  8. Sarah, Oh how I remember the old phones--now that's really showing our age. I do remember my mother getting so angry when everytime she wanted to call someone,or better yet needed to use the phone for an emergency (for years my dad had heart attacks and she needed to call the ambulance). She'd ask nice and then tell them a thing or two if they continued to talk. Though more expenseive we finally got a private line. So thanks for the walk down memory lane. I have been off FB since I was badly hacked for the forth time--even my blog that I hardly use has been hacked and I won't take my computer to the counter guy until I'm finished with my WIP. But I so appreciated your post regarding manners and good taste. Some of the inappropriate comments I see to others or the raging politics that goes on is annoying for sure. So thanks for the reminder to all of us on social media. Things used to be so simple back when. If I remember the good ol' days when etiquette was key, guess I'm again showing my age. Oops. Have a great day.

  9. Beverly, That's terrible that your dad was so fragile and your mom couldn't call out for help because of that party line. I remember sitting by the phone waiting for an expected call because there were no answering machine and no call forwarding. It was either be there for the call or miss it.
    Like your dad, my mom had chronic emergent episodes because of stenosed and leaky valves. She would go into sudden heart failure. We got a private line as soon as they were available.
    It's sad that we live in a world of hackers and haters. I feel like some dynamic in our society has changed and I'm not certain what is causing it. It's awful that you've been hacked 4 times!
    Life did seem simpler then. Maybe someday we'll get that back.
    I'm so glad you came despite all the hacking and hazards you've experienced. All the best to you, Bev.

  10. Thanks, Sarah. Very helpful. I just need to remember to check to see if auto-correct has changed my message in ways I didn't intend.

    1. Yes, Ann, autocorrect can destroy a message. I don't really experience autocorrect on the computer, only on my phone, but it drives me crazy.
      Thank you for your comment, Ann.

  11. Even on the electronic highway, the Golden Rule still applies.
    Thank you for taking on and helping others to navigate this new way of communicating. Doris

    1. Doris, you're so right about the Golden Rule. Treating others the way we want to be treated is never wrong. Cyber world presents new challenges to the world of etiquette and I am learning some things as I go. The world is so much more complicated now than when I was young and only had to have table manners and phone etiquette.
      Thank you for dropping by and commenting.