Netiquette inverse Netiquette – Online Etiquette

As we have said, learning online is very different from face to face. You will need to interact with an unseen group both socially and for learning, and this requires trust between participants. The digitized learning environment brings some unique social and psychological features to interactions, which in turn bring potential for misunderstanding of what is acceptable behaviour or miscommunication.  As such, it is considered good practice for an online course to discuss and agree on basic ‘Netiquette’. Netiquette refers to the etiquette of communicating and participating with others in online environments. The rules vary, but in general participants and instructors on eLearning courses are expected to treat each other with respect and to show consideration. They are also expected to be timely in communication and completing activities, and accessible at appointed times.

The key purpose of having rules of netiquette is to enable and guide you to fully participate in your online course. You may be asked to contribute to discussion, respond in a discussion, collaborate on a project, share information, or just be sociable. You may be submitting assignments online and giving and receiving feedback. Or, you may have questions about something, an answer to someone else’s question or need some encouragement. There are a number of contexts in which communication is a vital component, and the key to successful study online is in not being prevented, or preventing others, from making optimum use of communication tools. This is especially important when grades can be impacted.

Advice for successful participation and basic rules of Netiquette

Participation in Netiquette

Please refer to The Core Rules of Netiquette for a summary of expected online behaviour based on “Netiquette” by Virginia Shea. The premise of Shea’s book is that it is better to make friends online than enemies. This may seem obvious, but it is easy to forget that human beings with feelings are behind the electronic exchanges.


  • Treat others as you would like to be treated. Try to minimize any possibility of your messages being misinterpreted, remembering that there may be a diversity of cultures on your course, and don’t escalate a bad situation – seek clarification (i.e., the same as asking someone to repeat or rephrase what they have said, as you would in conversation).
  • You have a responsibility to the others on your course. Consider how what you do (or don’t do) impacts on others.
  • Complete tasks on time, including responding to others within a reasonable time.
  • Keep discussion threads clear and easy to follow and stick to the topic.
  • Be ethical, and don’t break the law.
  • Be aware of and comply with academic integrity policy – give credit for the ideas of others and correctly reference where required/appropriate.
  • Ask questions and don’t jump to conclusions.
  • For the benefit of all, participate as fully as you can. Be helpful and support others who may not be moving as quickly as you – this will help reinforce your learning as well as helping others.
  • Respect the privacy of others – seek permission to quote of forward information sent to you.
  • Seek guidance or assistance from instructors if you witness seriously disrespectful or hostile behaviour.

How to establish the rules of Netiquette for your course

Netiquette Rules

  • Your course instructor should set the tone and provide detailed information, including guidance on how to resolve or report inappropriate behaviour.
  • Have realistic expectations on communicating with your instructor and peers. It is not realistic to expect that your instructor/peers will be available online 24/7.
  • Ask for clarification about when it is appropriate to chat informally and when you should be more formal in tone and presentation.
  • You may have the opportunity to create your own guidelines or contract with other participants. For example, you may wish to agree and articulate how long you will take to respond to postings, take turns to moderate discussion, the consequences for non-compliance, etc.


What do you need to do?

What do you need to do?



The Core Rules of Netiquette:

Policies on student rights, responsibilities and behaviour at York University:

Example Netiquette agreement: