Whether commenting on discussion boards, blogs, wikis or even YouTube, there is a certain netiquette that it helps to follow. This helps ensure that the discussion remains positive, constructive and civil. (If you’ve ever read any of the comments on a YouTube video, you’ll know what we’re talking about!)

Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when posting comments:
  1. Be respectful, kind and honest. This is no place to be offensive in any way, shape or form! It is okay to disagree with somebody –  it’s even encouraged! – but do so in a respectful manner. Make sure that whatever you write as a comment you would be willing to say to somebody in a face-to-face conversation and you would be willing to repeat in the classroom.
  2. Read before participating. If you are new to the site, take some time to read previous posts to get an idea of what is acceptable. If you are new to the thread, be sure to read the post or topic and the comments that have been written before you.
  3. Make sure your comment adds value to the discussion. Avoid comments that only agree or disagree with a previous post. Be sure you include supporting details in your comment. Also, make sure you comment stays on the current topic.
  4. Communicate clearly. Before submitting your comment check it for typos and grammar mistakes. Do not use slang, abbreviations or TXTSPK unless it is a site where everybody (including your teacher!) will understand it and it is relevant to the topic.
  5. Never use ALL CAPS. It is the same as shouting at somebody and is considered aggressive. It is also a good way to get your message deleted from lots of sites.
  6. Use smileys, emoticons and formatting when appropriate. These help explain the tone of your message. It is very easy to be misunderstood if you do not use them, especially if you are joking!
  7. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes. If you make a mistake that somebody later corrects, be sure to write a comment saying so. If you change your point of view because of the discussion be sure to acknowledge that.
  8. Problems with other users. If you have a problem with another user, contact the moderator or the administrator privately.
  9. Don’t feed the trolls.
  10. Remember the Golden Rule. It is very easy to misinterpret what you read in the comments because you cannot hear that person’s tone of voice and you cannot see their body language. (If you’re not sure of what was meant, just ask the person to clarify!) This is why it is very important to communicate clearly! Keep in mind the Golden Rule: It’s not just what you say, but how you say it!

These rules are adapted from Message Board Etiquette by Michelle Lehmann.