When communicating online, whether via e-mail, instant messaging, or social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook, there are etiquette rules you should follow. The common courtesies used online are collectively known as “netiquette.” By using proper netiquette when spending time in a forum or other site, you make a positive first impression on those you are chatting with. 1. Remember that you talking to people when you are online. It’s easy to forget to be courteous when you’re sitting in front of a screen. A good rule to keep in mind is “would I say face-to-face what I’m about to type?” 2. Apply a “do as the Romans do” attitude when visiting a new website. While gossip may be acceptable in some forums, it may not be looked at kindly in others. Some websites have a more lighthearted tone, while others possess a more serious voice. If you’re a new member of a forum, observe for a little while (known as lurking) before you post. 3. Keep your writing simple. Pay attention to your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Because you are faceless online, it’s the quality of your writing that people use to draw a conclusion about you. 4. Don’t fan the flames. Proper netiquette dictates that you don’t perpetuate flame wars. Flame wars happen when someone shares their opinion with no thought to politeness or being tactful. While there’s nothing wrong with sometimes expressing yourself in a no-holds-barred manner, it isn’t fair to monopolize a thread or forum with these sorts of posts. 5. Stay out of other people’s e-mail. Reading other people’s e-mail without their permission is as much of a privacy violation as opening their physical mail. So, unless a message has been forwarded to you or printed out for you to read, respect the privacy of your friends and coworkers and don’t read their e-mail messages.