Netiquette document (Versión LACRALO)

This documents outlines some guidelines for all LACRALO members on posting to the LACRALO mailing list

DRAFT Document

Netiquette is not new; and yet, today new ways of improving virtual interaction are still developed.  In 1995, RFC 1855 set the first behavior standards for digital media. Plenty of these recommendations are observed to date. 


This document sets out to propose some basic recommendations in order to make ICANN virtual meetings more agreeable in spaces like the Adobe Connect Room, the e-mail exchange lists and the Wiki.  


Overall Participation Guidelines

    • Try to enter the Adobe Connect Room at least five minutes prior to the beginning of a session. This will enable you to greet participants already in the room.

    • Enter the AC room using your first and last names. Do not use a nickname. Thus, everyone will know who they are interacting with.

    • Once you have entered the AC room, perform audio and video checks (a video check is not needed or recommended) by clicking on the corresponding set-up icons (these checks are necessary if you intend to participate and use the room audio at a later stage).

    • When a speaker/lecturer is delivering a presentation, it is advisable not to use the chat so as to avoid any distractions or interruptions. It is also advisable to keep your video camera off.

    • Questions can be posted on the AC chat during the presentation, but will be replied once the presentation has concluded. If you wish to make a comment and use audio, “raise your hand” by clicking on the corresponding icon in the upper left-hand section of your window.  Please wait until the moderator gives you the floor, and then enable your microphone. Make your comment and then make sure you have muted your microphone.  Please note:  to turn your microphone on/off, click on the icon in the upper left-hand section of your window.

    • Show respect by addressing other participants by their names, so that everyone will know who you are addressing.

    • When requesting the floor, please use your name, so that participants who do not know you can make reference to you, if needed.

    • Remember that sessions are recorded.

    • Schedules are set in GMT UTC time (Greenwich Meridian Time), and each participant has to adapt them to their own local time zone by using the link included on the agenda so as not to be late or miss a session.

    • All attendees (participants, moderators, speakers) will act on the basis of collaboration and good faith.

1. Recommendations regarding E-mail.

It is important to note some aspects that will result in a more effective and efficient communication.  On many occasions, details are overlooked and, hence, an e-mail does not meet the recipient’s expectations and may lead to confusion.  Please remember that an e-mail is still a letter, similar to any other letter, the only difference being the communication medium through which it is sent.

Here are some important tips to take into account when sending an e-mail:

  1. 1.       Make sure the recipients e-mail address is correct.  With some many registered domains, changing only one letter may result in the message reaching an unintended recipient.  Also, the message may reach a company, but not the intended department or person.

  2. 2.       Send only the message you want to convey, or the material you have been asked to send. Do not use a free communication system to send unnecessary documents or attachments that create more traffic on the web and waste the recipient’s time.

  3. 3.       Remember to complete the e-mail subject heading. This enables the recipient to have a clear and concise idea of the email content.

  4. 4.       Your e-mail should have an opening greeting, a body and a complimentary close, just like a traditional letter. There is no reason why you should use different conventions in this type of message. Your register should not be more formal or more familiar [than that of a letter], unless you are writing to an intimate friend or a person that is close to you, in which case your register will be more informal.

  5. 5.       Do not use other people’s e-mail addresses to send unsolicited correspondence or files.  E-mail privacy must be respected.  Do not give someone’s email address to third parties, unless you are authorized by the intended recipient.

  6. 6.       Write clearly, concisely and correctly (without spelling mistakes) and do not write your entire message in capital letters.  Also, avoid using several font types, colors, smileys or emoticons.

  7. 7.       When sending an e-mail to multiple recipients, use the blind carbon copy field to avoid disclosing recipients’ e-mail addresses.

  8. 8.       Sign. Do not send anonymous or incomplete messages.  At least, state your name after your message. You may include additional information, like your address, phone number, web site, etc.

  9. 9.       If you have engaged in previous e-mail correspondence with the recipient, you may use the same e-mail string so as to keep details, important points or points of interest at hand.

  10. 10.    As in a signed letter, initial and closing greetings are in order.  Include your contact information at the end of your message.

  11. 11.    Using upper case is really bad-mannered.  Upper case looks as if you were shouting.  Therefore, avoid writing full paragraphs in upper case.  If you think the importance of a message justifies it, immediately reply briefly to an email message, to let the sender know you got it, even if you will send a longer reply later.

  12. 12.    If someone asks you to send them a file, it is important to let them know the file size before sending it.  Take into consideration that not everyone has broad band access or a 5-Gigabyte e-mail box.

  13. 13.    Avoid sending chain messages.  Virus and chain message alarms are intentional and aim at saturating servers as well as the net.

  14. 14.    Watching cc’s when replying is very important.  If the person sending the message addressed a long list of recipients, you should not follow suit.

Remember that the people with whom you communicate, including the web master of the pages you browse, are not paid or under the obligation to reply. If they do, they are acting out of courtesy.


Recommendations for E-mail Lists

In the case of discussion lists used to manage discussion forums based on email exchange, following appropriate netiquette guidelines is especially important, given that these services are particularly sensitive to abuse. Disorderly use may weaken the list, or else put an end to the list’s prestige or usefulness in an amazingly short time. This derives from the significant information flow circulated on the lists, their multiplier effect… and, above all, from the fact that lists are prone to sterile debates, fostered by abuse and poor management, which tire and deviate audiences from their focus of interest.

A good style guide is, therefore, an indispensable tool for an effective discussion list.

  1. However, the first guideline regarding lists starts with your own area of interest.  Lists generate considerable message traffic and demand plenty of attention, as well as computer resources and message management tools.  Therefore, you should subscribe only to those lists of high interest to you, or in which you will be able to participate.

  2. Once you have joined a list, do not plunge into it – wait and take some time to observe how the list works, the tone of participants’ interventions, the topics addressed and the overall environment.  Pay attention to what subjects are considered off topic.  Start participating only after you feel sure you are treading on firm ground and are at ease within the group.

  3. Read the general information on the list and identify the forum topics.  Identify the scientific, academic, professional topics and other topics specific to the list.  And restrict your communication to these topics.  Ignore, and avoid responding to, provocative interventions or digressions that simply lead to off topic replies.  If you want to reply, do so on a personal basis and off the list.

Many times we subscribe to a list without a clear idea of its content because the list is an open subscription one.

  1. If the list is a Listserv list, or has a data base of archived interventions, consult the data base and find out about the topics of your interest; even before your own intervention, you can check whether there are prior interventions on the same topic to avoid redundancy.

  2. Before sending an open question to the list:

Check if there is a FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) section.  Check if your question is on the FAQ list.

Consult the list owner in private.

Post your question only if it is related to the list topics.  Senior members tend to get upset when seeing the same questions posted frequently.

Feel free to express your opinion on the list, but remember that this freedom has to be scrupulously respected in the discussions of proposed topics. This entails respecting:  a) the topic list for the discussion, b) the rules of procedure and time limits indicated.

However, this freedom should not be mistaken with questioning the list’s rules of procedure.  You are to respect these rules at all times and observe the list owner’s application thereof.  The list owner may set forth local netiquette specifications for their list.

  1. Remember that discussion lists have members from many countries.  In particular, discussion lists conducted in Spanish have members from the Latin American community and from Spanish-speaking communities in other countries.

Do not assume that participants will understand local references, references to films, football/soccer, cuisine, music, festivals, proverbs, etc. or the latest news in your country or region.  If you still choose to make a reference along these lines, please provide an explanation.

Do not take it for granted that people will understand geographic, idiomatic, cultural or climatic references of local, regional or national nature.

  1. Quite frequently, someone subscribes to a list only to send an invitation, spread an idea, or publish a commercial announcement, with no intention to engage in a debate or exchange ideas/experiences.  This is called bombing.

Bombing is a common practice quickly detected by users, and seldom overlooked or forgiven.

Do not engage in this practice; if you do, take into account that list owners will usually react by limiting your access to the list or net, either totally or partially.

  1. Do not make off topic comments or questions. Remember that list members have subscribed to address the list topics. If you do not respect this, then you are taking advantage of an audience which is not your own and are wasting everybody’s time.  Likewise, is somebody makes an off topic comment or question, do not reply or engage in a public discussion on account of this, or on the off topic subject, or on the appropriateness of the off topic intervention.  If at all, use your private e-mail to do this.

  2. Sometimes, messages without a substantive content are posted on discussion lists. For instance, “I agree with…”, or “Bravo, so-and-so! It was high time somebody said…,”‘ [followed by so-and-so’s exact message, be it verbatim or paraphrased, but without any substantive contribution to the previous idea].  Expressions of this nature do not contribute to the list’s objectives, do not increase shared knowledge, reflection or experience… and foster a biased, confrontational and sectarian environment  where, ultimately, opinions are inhibited and some members feel intimidated or without the freedom to express their views.

Therefore, do to induce people to take sides, do not take sides groundlessly, avoid being sectarian and do not encourage “partisanship”.  This sterilizes [sic] the list and sets a bad climate.  A list is not an assembly or a political ballot.  It is not about seeking confrontation, but participation, input, and reflection on science, technology, or research. One idea is not better than others simply because it has a larger number of supporters, but because of its value as an idea per se, as a contribution or supplement to existing knowledge.  This is not about crushing or excluding, but about contributing.

  1. If you are going to be absent for more than a week, please use one of the tools available to suspend your e-mail correspondence or to receive only list summaries; thus, you will avoid a large amount of messages upon your return, as well as possible accidents [sic].

  2. Do not pose questions or ask for information that you can easily obtain and is readily available after some research.

  3. Do not reply to questions on the list unless it is unavoidable and your reply is of general interest. For instance, if you are providing and address where to find solicited information.

Questions to the List

If your reply is of interest only to the person that posted the question, then use their e-mail address for a private response.  If twenty people respond to a question posted on a large list, e-mail boxes may collapse, especially if each reply triggers off a follow-up argument and counter-argument.

  1. When responding to another participant, do not reproduce the entire message string, especially if the string contains all prior messages related to the same topic. Keep only those aspects of the message that are being referred to in your reply and delete any other section that is not relevant or related to your reply.

Take your time to edit your reply and, if possible, compose your reply in a dialog format, intercalating original paragraphs with their corresponding replies.

Nobody likes reading lengthy messages, already sent on three or four previous occasions, only to find a brief line at the end that reads:  “Me too”.

  1. Most lists do not allow attachments to avoid virus risks and system overload.  If you need to send a lengthy text, it is not advisable to include it the body of your message.  The best course of action is to post it somewhere else and send a brief summary to the list, together with a link to access the original text.

  2. If you need to make reference to previous work, the best course of action is to send the URL address from which to download this material together with a brief summary and a note on its relevance.  Avoid lengthy and convoluted messages.  If you cannot avoid them, include an announcement at the beginning of your message letting your audience know that a lengthy message follows.

Use full stops and leave a blank line between paragraphs; this makes text look less saturated.

  1. Sometimes, the same message is sent to several lists.  Remember that, just like you, other people may have subscribed to all or several of these lists and may be receiving the same message repeatedly. In this case, keep the subject heading but include a warning note, indicating that the same message may be received through several conduits.

  2. When posting a question on the list, ask participants to send their replies to your personal e-mail address.  Afterwards, send a summary of the input you received to all respondents, or to the list as a whole.

  3. When responding to a message sent to a discussion list, verify that you are sending your reply to the appropriate recipient and not to the entire list.  If you send a personal message to the whole list, then a very delicate situation may arise.

  4. Save the subscription message for the list you join. It contains instructions to manage the list, unsubscribe, or suspend your subscription on a temporary basis while you are on holiday or change your e-mail address.

  5. Use your personal and exclusive e-mail account to subscribe to the list. Do not use a shared e-mail account, an office account, a departmental account, a friend’s account, or your spouse’s account.  Although they may volunteer their accounts, they ultimately get tired of receiving your messages.

  6. From time to time, beginners that are not familiar with netiquette rules, inadvertently send unsubscribe messages or request to be deleted from the list. Please be tolerant of this mistake and, in any case, give them some useful advice instead of being intransigent or sarcastic with them.

  1. Likewise, if you would like to unsubscribe, do not send such messages to the list.  Read the initial subscription message you received for instructions. If you failed to save this message, search for the relevant information on the list or consult the list owner about how to unsubscribe. Usually, this entails sending a brief message to the list server (automated management operation), such as:

Unsubscribe [list name].

Recommendations regarding the Use of Cell Phones during Face-to-face Meetings

Cell phones have become a permanent communication tool. As such, they require the observance of the following etiquette rules, especially in public places, events, dinners and ceremonies.

Before an activity or event starts:

–      Turn off your cell phone or turn it to vibrate mode.

–      Do not use your cell phone photo or video cameras without prior authorization.

–      Avoid speaking on your cell phone.

–      Make sure your cell phone is not visible by others.

–      During important meetings, your cell phone must be off.  Do not take calls while you are attending the meeting.

–      If you have to take a call during a meeting, apologize, leave the room, and then take the call. Do not take the call in public.

–      Do not avoid taking a call whenever possible.