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Excuse me, please

June 10, 2003 12:50 IST

Good manners should extend beyond the dining table to the online world

"Remember, respect is contagious, pass it on."

This is mission of the US-based Civil; to fight rudeness prevailing in our society and to develop a well-mannered, patient and more civilised society. Operating from New York, the organisation has chosen to spread the consciousness in a novel manner. By approaching a person behaving rudely directly and handing him a CivilCity Card.

This is for ill manners and stupid behaviour that takes place in real life.  But what about our behaviour and manners when we are online?

Mumbai-based software developer Suresh VS recounts an incident that happened a year ago.  One of his chat friends requested him to send across any virus or worm. The reason? His friend wanted to send it to a schoolmate so that it would crash his computer!

Nirmala Devi a teacher in a reputed Kochi school started using the Internet while taking care of her son's studies. Now a Net enthusiast, she frequents chat rooms and has online friends across the globe. She notices that some people behave in strange ways when online. While chatting or mailing, some people strictly go for the upper case letters, which is actually quite difficult to comprehend. Another trend is constant buzzing on instant messenger, which can be very annoying, says this teacher.

She also feels people need to learn basic tips when chatting with unknown people for the first time. Many insist on meeting and asking about physical appearance. "Can you imagine someone behaving in the same manner in real life as well?" she asks. Some people try their best to disturb your conversation in chat rooms by constantly posting purposeless messages, thus making it impossible to keep track of the conversation.

Rude and long nicknames are also extremely annoying, says Swarup Shah, a college student from Mumbai. "But when I learnt very long nicknames can mar the actual message we send, I stopped that practice and now restricts myself to more practical names."

Virginia Shea in her book "Netiquette" tells us to "remember human" - the golden rule of netiquette! She underlines the importance of behaving online in the same manner you behave in real life. The anonymity associated with Internet may help you to treat those around in the rudest way possible to an extent, but just think about that embarrassment in will cause you, in case you need to meet them!

Online discussion forums often come across the meanest of comments. Hostile replies and flaming is also common on discussion boards, especially when the issue is contentious.

Shea, who has been called the 'Ms. Manners' of the Internet, says in her book: "When you communicate through cyberspace -- via email or on discussion groups -- your words are written. And chances are they're stored somewhere where you have no control over them. In other words, there's a good chance they can come back to haunt you."

Additional Resources:

-- Chatiquette
-- E-mail manners
-- E-mail abuse
-- Netiquette


Bijoy AK