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Remember that you won't have all those non-verbal cues that you get in the traditional classroom and neither will your classmates or instructors. Almost all your information will come in the form of words. Taking a class online means you won't be sitting quietly in the classroom; participation is essential. Online, you will be responsible for initiating more contact, for being persistent and vocal when you don't understand something. The web etiquette listed below will help guide you in becoming an effective communicator which is critical to success in distance education.


  • Keep the communications productive
  • Never send a message when you are angry
  • Respond to the messages from others the way you want them to respond to your messages
  • Avoid abbreviations for common phrases, (i.e. BTW - By the way, TTYL - talk to you later) 
  • Take the time to compose and write your message carefully
  • Avoid using ALL CAPITALS or numerous explanation points !!!!! as people often interpret this as shouting or being rude and sarcastic
  • Follow the conventional parts of a message:
    • Header or subject
    • Salutation 
    • Write the content of your message
    • Sign your signature the way you want people to address you
  • Phrase the subject line of your message appropriately  
  • Use your word processor to check your grammar and spelling


  • Try to keep your e-mail short and make only one point per message
  • Send your messages to those who need to know rather than replying to everyone 
  • Use an e-mail or private chat for messages that could embarrass or anger someone if made public

Discussion Board and Wiki's

  • Before you reply to a post, scan the headers of all other unread messages in case there is a related post and then read it
  • Make discussion groups you first stop when checking for information or asking questions
  • Sometimes a private message has a general applicability as often people have similar questions and could benefit from your explanation
  • Say something more than "me, too" when you post on the discussion board or wiki
  • Quote wisely when responding to another person's comments: it often helps to quote the part to which you are referring