Before using, (re)learn your netiquette

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Welcome to Carnegie Mellon, where every student had an e-mail address before most schools figured out what ARPANET was. For some first-years, coming to CMU opens doors to the unfamiliar world of newsgroups. For others, USENET is as old a hat as Lincoln?s stovepipe. In order to more speedily acclimate the former with these forums of theirs, and in order to refresh the latter (and some older readers), I present some fundamentals of netiquette.
First of all, what you do on AIM and private zephyr is your business; what you post to [SLANT12][/SLANT12], the community bulletin board, and other public forums is everyone?s business. It?s going to be there for a very long time, can be read by everyone you know (including potential professors and bosses), and is a reflection of yourself out there in the faceless world of the ?Net. There are some simple rules you can follow to make sure people take you seriously and listen to what you have to say.
One of the easiest things to do is not use AIM-speak. That?s it. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. You?re well past middle school, and your correspondence should reflect that. ?U? and ?ur? are not acceptable substitutions for words that are only three and five letters, respectively. You can kiss ?L8r? goodbye, too. An equally obnoxious habit is TO WRITE IN ALL CAPITALS FOR LONG SENTENCES. This is the e-mail equivalent of shouting and should be used sparingly. A preferred method of adding emphasis would be like this or this. When you respond to an e-mail and you plan to address a previous post, delineate any direct quotes you use with something like ?>?. For example:
[COURIER]> Did you hear

they got new
G5s in the
Wean intro
Yeah, they?re
For the threaded argument style that [SLANT12][/SLANT12] so dearly embraces, subject lines are crucial. E-mails with the subject ?FREE SEX? and a body that starts out ?...Now that I?ve got your attention? haven?t been funny since 1993. An informative and accurate subject line will get you far. Not only is the original subject important, but also follow-ups should adhere to ?Re: Original Subject? unless they take an extreme tangent that is somehow related to the original message, in which case the format becomes ?New Subject (was Re: Old Subject).? The countless [SLANT12][/SLANT12] readers who browse by subject will be very grateful.
To all those who insist on posting blank e-mails with the subject ?test, please ignore? before making their actual post, please don?t. Send the real one. If it goes through, you?ll know, and if it doesn?t, dig the message out of your sent mail folder and try again. Those inane message proxies take up valuable room on my 12.1" screen and are easily avoidable.
For the few and the brave that attempt to use [SLANT12][/SLANT12] to actually sell or buy anything, here are some useful pointers. First, the acronyms: WTB: is ?Want to Buy? and FS: is ?For Sale.? Rudimentary, but important. If you intend to respond to one of these e-mails, scroll through the posts after it first. Many people follow up their FS: or WTB: with a post saying if the item was sold or bought. When you do respond to one of these e-mails, make sure it sends only to the seller or buyer and not the whole [SLANT12][/SLANT12] world. No one cares that you want to buy Joe Quark?s physics textbook. Also, to all potential sellers out there, condense your posts! If selling everything you own, put it in one e-mail with a subject that says so. Scrolling through 30 e-mails from the same person all advertising one item each is the leading cause of premature gray hair.
That?s the syntax of effective electronic communication. Now for the style.
Never, ever, forward a private e-mail to another person or newsgroup without the original sender?s permission. There are very few reasons to break this rule, and hopefully you will never
experience any of them. Also,
ad hominem attacks are not kosher. Contradicting someone?s lucid, well-constructed argument with ?You?re so dumb? will get you about as far as an ant on a treadmill.
Concise arguments are a sign of good argument style. Mark Twain is said to have written, ?I?m sorry this letter is so long, but I did not have time to write a shorter one.? If every person took the time to say in two sentences what he or she said in three paragraphs, world peace would be exponentially closer.
Finally, if you take away only one thing from this piece, take this: Think before you post.