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The Basics

Sending and Forwarding

About "Attachments"

The Law

The Human Touch

Rumors and Legends

About "Emoticons"

Symbols in e-mails

netiquette guide for email


AJ's Netiquette guide for e-mail

Many of us baby boomers have literally grown up along with the Internet. For us, it was a natural environment begging for expansion. We learned by trial and error and our exploration and understanding happened simultaneously...hand in hand.

Nowadays, 1000's of new users join this community everyday who are unfamiliar with the Internet culture and the general guidelines that we Netizens (citizens of the Internet) follow when we communicate by e-mail (electronic mail).

To bring "Newbies" up to speed with the Internet culture and etiquette on the Internet (Netiquette), we offer this guide as a minimum set of behaviors for anyone who sends, receives, or posts e-mail messages.

We are not the know-it-all resource when it comes to netiquette. We are just a normal band of Netizens who use the Internet and e-mail 12-16 hours everyday for business and pleasure. We receive over 350 messages each week from people all over the globe with all kinds of messages and requests. Corresponding so much with e-mail lead us to realize that we needed to offer some basic guidelines to people who were communicating with our office, and with others.

This guide is not the end-all be-all, last word, on the topic, so if we've missed something, please drop us a line. Surf safely and be happy :-).

The Basics

- ALL UPPER CASE CHARACTERS MEANS YOU ARE SHOUTING. Use mixed case characters in your message.

- E-mail is no excuse for poor grammar, bad spelling, terrible punctuation and forgetting to capitalize proper nouns. If you have the necessary intelligence to use a computer to communicate with the entire planet, check out the spell check program too.

- Keep your messages brief without being curt. When replying, include enough of the original message to be understood - but no more.

- Smileys (see emoticons) to indicate tone , but use them sparingly. :-)
Use symbols (see symbols) for emphasis. That *is* what I meant.
Use underscores for underlining. _War and Peace_ is my favorite book.
Remember a smiley does not negate an insulting remark.

- Don't be anonymous. Add your contact information to the end of your message (called a signature) to ensure that people know who you are. Unsigned e-mail is similar to an unsigned letter - hurried and blundering.
Include you name, or nickname, and your return e-mail address.

- Know the size of your message. As a rule, don't send messages over 100 Kilobytes. Large attachments choke bandwidth.

- Edit your attachments - Bandwidth is what it's all about = how much information you can receive. Internet graphics are produced at 72-96 DPI. The average screen size used around the world is 600 pixels wide (about 8.5 inches) - Edit your graphics, or don't send them.

- Make your reply easy. Always hyper-link your return address using the prefix "mailto:" (without the " " symbols).
For example: - This allows your reader to double click on your address to send you an e-mail if their program accepts hyper-links

- Make your Internet links active. Always use complete URL addresses. For example: This allows your reader to double click on any complete URL address and they will visit the Internet address if their program accepts hyper-links.

- Apply a common sense "reality checks" before assuming a message is valid. Say to yourself "would I believe this tale if this message came to me in the regular mail?"

Sending & Forwarding e-mail

- Remove those messy <<<< symbols before forwarding a message. No one wants to see how many times someone else has read your message. If you don't care enough about your message to remove the <<< symbols your message is not worth sending.

- Never send chain letters by e-mail. Besides being childish and consuming time and bandwidth, sending chain letters can cost you your Internet privileges.

- It is extremely bad form to forward a message and to include all the previous message headers from others.

- It is a very high security risk to send an e-mail message that includes all of the recipients of your e-mail. Learn how to send BCC's, or how to send mass mail where the recipients are hidden.

- Don't send unsolicited mail to people whose names you have recovered from another persons e-mail message.

- Use a subject heading to reflect the content of the message. Using the word "none" means "I'm dumb and there is nothing inside this e-mail." Include the word "Long" in the subject header if your message is over 100 lines.

- If you receive an important message it is OK to return a brief reply to tell the sender that you received their message and you will send a reply at a later timely.


- Know the size of your attachments. Large attachments choke bandwidth.

- Downloading infected software programs (or files) or clicking on an infected e-mail attachment are the most common ways of unleashing malicious code (a virus) onto your computer.

Here are some general virus protection tips:
- ALWAYS use a high-quality virus protection program
- ALWAYS make sure the virus programs' definitions are up to date!!!

- ALWAYS make sure your virus protection program scans your downloads
 and your e-mail attachments
- NEVER run a program whose origin you do not trust
- NEVER open an attachment from anyone you do not know
- NEVER open an attachment from anyone who hates you
- NEVER open an attachment from anyone you know
- NEVER open a "Word" text document
- NEVER open an attachment .exe

- In general, NEVER open an attachment unless you are 100% sure the attachment is 100% safe.

- Rule of thumb: if it can be said in the body of an e-mail, why is there a need for an attachment?

- If the source of the attachment is know ask them to resend the information without the attachment and to include the attachment information inside the body of the message.

- Adobe Acrobat® documents (.pdf are Portable Document Files) are
the Internet standard for safe attachments.

The Law

- There is no such thing as a right to privacy when this regards work place e-mail. Ownership of electronic mail is the property of the employer. Many employers have regulations about using e-mail at the work place.

- Always assume that your e-mail is available to the whole world. Without a high-end encryption program, don't put anything in an e-mail message that you would not put on a postcard (credit card numbers, bank information, passwords, etc.).

- Respect the copyright on material. Give credit where credit is due (see the end of this message for our credit for this information). Even if the material is not protected by copyright laws, no one likes a thief.

- Unsolicited e-mail (called SPAM) can cause a loss of service privileges by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). SPAM is not yet illegal. If you send an unsolicited message, respect the "remove me" reply your might receive on the return.

- Do not respond to SPAM. A response saying "remove me" to a spammer says "Yes, I'm home - this is a valid address."

The Human Touch

- The Internet adds your computer to the global community. Language and humor have different meanings in different parts of the world. Be careful with sarcasm and ethnic humor.

- The recipient of your e-mail is a person with feelings and emotions like you. Treat others like you would like to be treated.

- Avoid insults, unless you are particularly rude to strangers on a regular basis, don't use e-mail to give someone a piece of your mind.

- "Be conservative with what you send and liberal in what you receive." Avoid sending emotional messages (we call these "flames") even if you are provoked.

- Two wrongs don't make a right; if you get flamed, do not respond.

- Watch cc's when replying to an e-mail. Just like a verbal conversation between two people, don't continue to include outside people if your messages have become a 2-way conversation.

- Give the world a break. You might be communicating with someone across the globe. When you send a message and want an immediate response, remember the recipient might be in another time zone and might be sleeping - have some patience.

Rumors, Legends, and Warnings

There is something about the Internet that causes users to believe without question every groundless story, legend, and dire warning that shows up in their "Inbox" or on their browser. Apparent the low cost of e-mail causes people to forward copies to others of silly hoaxes relating to cookie recipes, e-mail viruses, missing persons, and get-rich-quick schemes.

Most hoaxes, legends, and tall tales have been widely discussed and exposed by the Internet community. When faced with a tall tale, urban legend, or a chain letter request there is online help from many sources:

Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability

Symantec Anti Virus Research Center

The Urban Legends Web Site

Urban Legends Reference Pages

Datafellows Hoax Warnings

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