Netiquette - net etiquette
On-line communication may seem like talking or writing on paper but it's a bit different. It has its own set of rules or manners, called net-etiquette, or “netiquette”. The rules are very logical and will come naturally once you get used to them.
Rule #1: Avoid Hurting People's Feelings
If someone insults you, talk to your teacher about it before responding. The “insult” may really be a case of somebody using the wrong word, or a word that means something else in their culture or dialect. Even if the insult seems intentional, don't get into a flame war (sending insults back and forth). If you are angry, wait awhile, talk to your teacher and perhaps try sending a polite message asking what the person meant.
The other kids are just as cool as you are. If you think their clothes look strange, remember that your clothes look funny to them, too. Or maybe it's your haircut.
CAPITAL LETTERS in an online situation means you are shouting! So use them very rarely, as people might be offended (like you would be if someone shouted at you).
Rule #2: Cultural and Language Misunderstandings
Avoid slang. Students who speak other languages don’t usually understand it, because they haven’t learned it in school.
If a non-native English speaker makes a mistake and you don’t understand, just ask them what they meant. Or use the word properly when you respond, so that they can learn from you. Never, ever make fun of someone’s ability to speak or write English. They may lose their confidence and never write again. On the other hand, remember that if someone uses a word that offends you, it may not be an offensive word in their local slang. Ask them what they meant.
If one of your partner schools is fluent in English and the other is weak, make sure ALL your messages are written in simple English so that everyone can understand.
Jokes are easily misunderstood in online situations because the reader can't see your face to know whether you are joking, so avoid them at first. For the same reason, avoid sarcasm altogether.