Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

Don’t Feed the Trolls

According to Urban Dictionary, netiquette is “The established conventions of online politeness…Some conventions vary from site to site or online medium to online medium; others are pretty standard everywhere.” In other words, etiquette on the net. Are the offline and online world so different that they require two different words for the same thing? Apparently so. After all, offline people can have steady conversations with strangers without resorting to rude or cruel comments. The same thing can happen on the internet, sure, but it seems like more often than not it ends in a flame war. Seriously, just look at any Youtube video’s comment section.

But is netiquette something that has no meaning? Are there no rules on the internet? Of course there are. Most blatantly, websites have terms of service (not that many of us actually read them). But beyond that, there is the (usually) unwritten code of conduct in different websites that is essentially created by the users. If you’ve ever cringed at a distant relative’s totally unrelated religious paragraph on your facebook status, you know what I’m talking about. And don’t think nobody takes online etiquette seriously. has a great guide to online etiquette, one that puts down some of the unspoken rules many of us have grown familiar with.

The first thing on the list seems obvious: “Start by making sure you are sending things to the right place, that it arrives and that the right person gets it.” Makes sense. No one likes getting the wrong message, and it’s an easy thing to do.

The next point is also fairly simple: “Is it worth sending? Don’t waste peoples’ time or bandwidth with junk, chain e-mails and false rumors.” If I had a dollar for every time someone sent me chain-mail and wondered “Why did you even waste my time?” My tuition would be paid for.

The third point: “Proofread and spell-check your e-mails and make sure they know who you are.” Pretty self-explanatory.

The fourth point: “Don’t attack others online, say anything that could be considered insulting or that is controversial.” I don’t know if I agree 100%. I mean, definitely don’t attack people or insult them, but sometimes it is important to discuss controversial topics. Still, there is definitely a time and place for those things. This section also states “If someone tells you that you hurt their feelings, find out how and apologize. Let them know when you did things without meaning to. If they lash out at you, thinking you did it on purpose, before you attack them back, try explaining that it was accidental.” I totally agree with that part. So much could be avoided if people talked things out like adults.

I won’t go into the rest of what the article says, but there is one last point I want to talk about: “Are you angry when you are writing this message?” It is definitely a good idea to stop yourself from sending something until after you’ve “cooled down.” Especially if someone is purposely trolling you. As the site says, “these things go away much faster if you don’t reply at all. The person sending them is looking for a reaction. They soon get tired and go away if they don’t get any.” While this doesn’t work all the time when it comes to bullies, it works wonders with your average, run-of-the-mill trolls.

Seriously, everybody. Do not feed the trolls.


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Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

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