Internet discussion Group / List etiquette
|NETWORKING is the art of building mutually beneficial long term business relationships. These relationships thrive on professional courtesy and mutual respect. Note: this is not the same as friendship. Many of those in your network will never be seen outside of the office but may be suppliers or freelance consultants or members of discussion groups or lists that your know through correspondence only. Occasionally, a member of your network will become a friend, as a general rule, however, a network is more stable when each member is respected for the quality, amount and professionalism of their work as well as their knowledge of the field in general. Simply: Good Manners Are Good Business.|
Internet Lists, Classes and Discussion Groups
Keep in mind the six rules of business etiquette as you go through this lesson and you will see that participation in forums, lists, classes, and discussion groups is an excellent way to fulfill your primary networking goals:
1)Always acknowledge others
2)Time is money.
3)Practice making it look easy.
4)Lend a helping hand.
5)Develop a "business" sense of humor.
6)Maintain your skill levels
Read the rules of the List* that you have joined - and abide by them. For each list or group that you join, know the rules and follow them. If you wish to subscribe, unsubscribe, etc. look up the correct address to do so. Sending an e-mail to the entire list is spamming.
Groups and Lists have a purpose which involves shared knowledge. For that reason, it is counterproductive and therefore rude to reply privately. It can also be rude to link to other lists or groups in your answer or in your
signature as it tends to confuse people as to where they have posted their questions. The information is easily added to the same thread, instead of directing others to a completely different website to read one post.
Many lists do not use an HTML option for their e-mail. Without this, it is difficult to show stress points in a sentence (using different colors, bold font, underline, etc.). Be extremely careful with the use of capitalization to make a point. A message that is delivered in capitals is considered "shouting" or "flaming" on the internet. This is considered extremely rude.
While your e-mail or chat comments go out to the group as a whole, you should always use the name of the person to whose comment you are responding for two reasons.
1) It makes a better impression. You are trying to expand your network as well as perfect your skills.
2) It focuses you on the fact that there is a real person on the other end of your message. Too often, we feel an anonymity on the internet and respond in ways that we would not respond person to person. If anything, we need to be kinder on the internet. It is fast paced. We tend to forget that once it is written - it is always there. This is not real conversation. Somewhere, someone may be printing out your little missive to be framed on their wall. Will that thought make you proud? (Or - are they doing it for revenge<g>?)
Many who belong to lists and discussion groups, save emails as little tutorials. Many belong to more than one group. Be careful not to clog their inbox with repetition, subjects that are not pertinent, long personal anecdotes, inappropriate language.
Subject lines must reflect the current contents of an e-mail. At times, the subject may change during the thread of a discussion. At this point, change the subject line information.
A reply to an e-mail - and replies to that reply are called a "string" or a "thread".
- Many times, when working in house on a project with another person, it is beneficial to leave all old e-mails together. This way, only the latest e-mail will be kept - all others deleted - and the one e-mail will reflect the full development and agreement of the plan or idea.
- In a discussion involving more than one other person, this is counterproductive. (If two or more reply to one e-mail, all will not be reflected in your single thread.)
This is one reason that most lists have a rule that one must "snip" on reply. This is simply deleting the original e-mail below your reply. There are generally one or two basic lines in the original email that you may have to repeat in order to make your response coherent. These trimmed quotes are generally more acceptably placed above your response.
Lend that helping hand.
Many lists call for critiques from members on a particular project. This is a wonderful learning tool if handled properly. Remember, this is a learning process and criticism must walk a fine, polite line. If criticism is too harsh, someone may be dissuaded from presenting their project for criticism. If criticism is not honest, no one will learn. Both extremes defeat the purpose of the list.
If you are being critiqued: Do not take criticism personally. Evaluate it and decide if you can use it. If you can't, then put it totally out of your mind.
If you are critiquing: Unless you can offer an improvement or substitution that you feel would benefit the project, do not comment. (Others will.) Never comment on a subject outside of the list purpose. (example: if the group deals with website coding, do not comment on the content of a website.)
If, at any time, you feel you must say something to an individual that would be embarrassing or personal in nature, you have two options. You could, of course, put the individual's email in the To: box rather than the list email address, but it is usually better to place your own e-mail address there and mail it to yourself only. :)
Practice making it look easy.
Groups and Lists generally have a constant influx of "newbie" participants. If you have done well in responding to a particular problem - explained the answer clearly and simply - keep the answer. It will be needed again, and with organization (macros and drafts) you will be in a position to help quickly and smoothly.
As it is difficult to know your internet audience in a group or in a list - and in the interest of appearing professional, this is one place where humor is best avoided.
Emoticons suitable for internet groups and e-lists:
:] or :-] = Friendly
) or :-) = Smiling
:O or :-O = Surprised
List Rules and Guidelines ~ actual Rules from the FP List
--Edit Replies! (snipping) Quoting too much of the email to which you are replying quite often hinders communication. Try and keep quoting to a
minimum, but not so little that list members don't know what you are replying to -- try and quote only the portion of the email that shows the topic and the point the other person was trying to make. If you include too much of the
originator's email, then some people may not have the time to read your post. When replying to a Digest, please be sure not to include the entire Digest. This will get folks riled
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