Better communication is in everyone's interest, including yours.
Netiquette [net etiquette] is a set of established conventions that
have evolved over time on the Internet and on the Usenet news.
Netiquette is most of all based on what has been found useful and
proper in the electronic form of communication made possible by the
Internet, what is appropriate in any form of communication between
civilized human beings, and what is dictated by the common sense.
Netiquette is not a law or (with some exceptions such as spam
cancelbots) rules that will be forcibly imposed on the net
community. Maybe the best way of thinking about the netiquette is to
see it as a useful set of wise recommendations.
There are many collections on the various
aspects of the netiquette on the Internet in the electronic format,
The netiquette has not been written to be a nuisance or to curb your
freedom. Don't look upon the netiquette that way. It is to your own
advantage to pay attention to the netiquette recommendations. It is
sensible to be familiar with the netiquette also for quite selfish
If you pay attention to the netiquette, your communication
will succeed better. You will gain more credibility on the Usenet
community for your own views.
If you pay attention to the netiquette you will in all
probability get helpful answers more readily on the net when you
have questions to ask or need help on the net.
On the Usenet news the majority of the readers will know you
by your messages only. What you write and how you behave will make
your net personality. Think carefully what kind of a picture you
wish to give about yourself. And who knows? Maybe one day you may
have other dealings in real life with a few of the persons who have
formed their picture of you on the net.
If you repeatedly and deliberately ignore the netiquette you
will soon develop an indelible reputation of a troublemaker, and at
least the more serious users on the net will start avoiding you
Even if this last point is a bit farfetched, displaying a
good familiarity of the netiquette in one's postings can sometimes
have a "secret handshake effect" on the Usenet news. Others
similarly inclined may better see that you are for real.
My and the other collections of the netiquette are meant to help you
better to find your way on the net, and to get more benefit and
enjoyment out of the net in general, and the Usenet news in
particular. But be forewarned that especially the Usenet news can
occasionally be an intolerant and sometimes an outright hostile
environment even when you duly observe the netiquette yourself.
You'll often be needing a lot of tolerance and a tough skin.
There are no rules on the Internet - except
that there are no rules!
If you say that you have missed the essence of what was said in the
above. The relatively easy access and world-wide propagation of
messages on the net does not mean that there would be no
conventions. Most of them are voluntary and, no doubt, often broken.
But the essential point is that it is in your own self-interest to
be aware of the netiquette conventions which have evolved over a
long period all the way back from the mid-1980's.
Furthermore, some of the rules are enforced. Misplaced commercial
announcements on Usenet newsgroup (spam) will often be canceled
and/or reported to the sender's ISP (Internet Service Provider).
Binary postings in discussion newsgroups will be refused by many
ISPs. They will not carry them and binary cancelbots might be
removing such postings. Thus they might reach only a small part of
the readers. More seriously, if you outright break the law on the
Internet by distributing highly dubious material, the police
officials might intervene as has happened internationally on a few
Many even commercial IPSs can have terms of service (TOS) which you
have agree to and sign before you get the account. If you are an
employee, your employer can have explicit rules of usage, as do most
of the schools and universities for their students and personnel. If
you constantly break the rules you stand a chance of eventually
losing your account and/or other disciplinary action. So there
definitely are more rules than the "no rules" on the Internet.
From ts(ät)uwasa.fi Mon Feb 4 20:13:54 EET 2002
From: ts(ät)uwasa.fi (Timo Salmi)
Subject: Re: The "Rules" of alt.msdos.batch
Date: 4 Feb 2002 20:12:25 +0200
Organization: University of Vaasa, Finland
> There are no rules [to what one can
post in an unmoderated newsgroup].
[The following (slightly edited) posting discusses that sentiment in
general terms of the Usenet news. Not in relation to any specific
The Usenet news no-rules fallacy: Despite the fact that some
users would like to think otherwise, there are many codes of
conduct, both voluntary and some even forced on the Usenet news.
The rules which are actually forced most often concern things such
as spam, binary postings in discussion newsgroups (if not explicitly
allowed by the charter), pyramid scams and other outright illegal
material. Such posting can invoke counter-measures, including
automatic cancels (cancelbots), complaints to the sender's ISP (and
the potential consequent action), and even police action as has
happened internationally in the case of distributing offensive,
illegal material. Also keep in mind that not all the ISPs pass on
all the material. Thus e.g. the binary postings do not necessarily
propagate as widely in discussion newsgroups as the poster of a
binary might think.
The very purpose of having distinct newsgroups with the topic areas
specified is to have some kind of an order in the system. Else the
system would neither be manageable for the carriers of the news nor
useful for the readership. Hence there are tens of thousands of
different newsgroups each with some sense of their topics. Why else
would one need more than one newsgroup on the Usenet new in the
first place! In the case of comp-hierarchy newsgroups the topics are
to a considerable degree governed by the charter of the newsgroup,
explicitly or implicitly drawn up for the voting process to create
the newsgroup. In the more easily created alt-newsgroup hierarchy
the critical phase is also at the creation time and furthermore to
get the ISPs to carry the newsgroups. In order for a newsgroup to
survive in the long-run, it needs to stay reasonably on-topic even
when there is no mechanism to actually force the issue.
Finally, there is the netiquette. Netiquette is a set of established
conventions that have evolved over time on the Internet and on the
Usenet news. Netiquette is neither a law nor a rule. Netiquette is
most of all based on what has been found useful and proper in the
electronic form of communication made possible by the Internet, what
is appropriate in any form of communication between civilized human
beings, and what is dictated by the common sense.
One of the obvious recommendations of the netiquette with regard to
the Usenet news is to keep one's material within the confines of the
topic area of the newsgroups where one decides to post. Newsgroup
takeovers, by tenaciously forcing off-topic material, are both bad
netiquette and a breach of the spirit of having the at least a
semi-organized system of newsgroups. All told, thinking that one
should feel totally free to post whatever and wherever one happens
like is neither very well founded nor constructive.
All the best, Timo
Now look here. I am far too busy to play by
your little rules (like not including into my comments entire
postings from others). An intelligent reader will know what to
You are right in the sense that the choice, of course, is yours. But
flaunting a deliberate disregard of the common format is bound to
affect the image that you give of yourself on the net. There are
better ways to stress your individuality than a belligerent breach
of the netiquette. Besides, the haughtiness of your reaction can't
help but reflect an inflated belief in the value of your own
You are also right that many readers will know what to choose. Be
aware, however, that some readers who otherwise would pay attention
to what you have to say might even start ignoring you because of
such an attitude. Is that what you want?
You are quite wrong, however, in the sense that these are somehow my
own little rules. Yes, I agree with the netiquette recommendations,
but they most certainly are not my own invention. I act here rather
just as the bookkeeper. The netiquette is a common, long-established
code of conduct on the net. You can easily verify that fact from the
huge number of link references included throughout this netiquette