A network for anyone with an interest in
adult education and mental health

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'Netiquette' is online etiquette, the do's and don'ts of online communication. As with other forms of communication, some common courtesies should be followed. In the context of this e-support project we would like to remind you that our community brings together workers from different sectors and include mental health service users/learners and carers.

Everyone will have a valuable perspective to bring to our discussions but please remember that participants may not always be familiar with your sector, its priorities, specialist knowledge and terminology, etc. What a great chance to share different ideas and learn from each other!


1. Discussion forum netiquette

The basics of netiquette are agreed worldwide. Here are some points to consider when posting to a discussion forum or when using our social networks or webinar programmes.


2. Flaming

Sometimes you might offend someone unintentionally. Be prepared to receive some angry email or to be treated rudely in a public discussion. This is called being 'flamed'. If you attack back, you will spark a 'flame war'. To contain the heat, the best response is usually no response at all.


3. Message content

Treat your messages as you would a postcard, bearing in mind that many people may read them. Cite all quotations, references and so on. Do not include personal or confidential information and be aware of copyright issues. Be professional and careful about what you say about others ? your text is on public display and can be easily copied and forwarded. Libel laws still apply in cyberspace.


4. Respect and confidentiality

In the e-support project you may work in online in groups and engage in discussions with mental health service users, carers, managers and practitioners from a range of organisations.

 To allow open and honest communication and debate, all discussions on the forums and in on-line chat should be treated as confidential. You should not discuss the content with anyone outside the network without the express permission of the originator. When working online, it is sometimes hard to remember that you are dealing with other human beings. At all times, treat others on the course with the same respect you would in a face-to-face discussion.


5. Smileys

It is easy to misinterpret a message when you cannot see the communicator's body language. Bear this in mind, both when reading messages and writing them. If you mean something to be humorous, use a smiley to indicate this.

Smileys (also known as emoticons) are expressions you create from the characters on your keyboard. They add humour and personality to your messages. While these are not usually appropriate for professional emails, they can contribute a lot to more informal messages.

A few popular smileys include:

: - ) Happy

:- e Disappointed

:-(  Sad

:- < Cross

:- o Surprised

:- D Laughing


When reading messages, do not assume someone is being rude or offensive. If you feel offended by another contribution, you should email the originator (off discussion) and explain how and why you feel offended.


6. Further information

The above suggestions are based on: Rinaldi, A, The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette