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Thanks for reading Sally's excellent RFC! (full unabridged text enclosed below)

Larry Jaques
DIVERSIFY Communications


Network Working Group                                       S. Hambridge
Request For Comments: 1855                                   Intel Corp.
FYI: 28                                                     October 1995
Category: Informational

Netiquette Guidelines

Status of This Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


This document provides a minimum set of guidelines for Network Etiquette (Netiquette) which organizations may take and adapt for their own use. As such, it is deliberately written in a bulleted format to make adaptation easier and to make any particular item easy (or easier) to find. It also functions as a minimum set of guidelines for individuals, both users and administrators. This memo is the product of the Responsible Use of the Network (RUN) Working Group of the IETF.

table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. One-to-One Communication
  3. One-to-Many Communication
  4. Information Services
  5. Selected Bibliography
  6. Security Considerations
  7. Author's Address

1.0 Introduction

In the past, the population of people using the Internet had "grown up" with the Internet, were technically minded, and understood the nature of the transport and the protocols. Today, the community of Internet users includes people who are new to the environment. These "Newbies" are unfamiliar with the culture and don't need to know about transport and protocols. In order to bring these new users into the Internet culture quickly, this Guide offers a minimum set of behaviors which organizations and individuals may take and adapt for their own use. Individuals should be aware that no matter who supplies their Internet access, be it an Internet Service Provider through a private account, or a student account at a University, or an account through a corporation, that those organizations have regulations about ownership of mail and files, about what is proper to post or send, and how to present yourself. Be sure to check with the local authority for specific guidelines.

We've organized this material into three sections: One-to-one communication, which includes mail and talk; One-to-many communications, which includes mailing lists and NetNews; and Information Services, which includes ftp, WWW, Wais, Gopher, MUDs and MOOs. Finally, we have a Selected Bibliography, which may be used for reference.

2.0 One-to-One Communication (electronic mail, talk)

We define one-to-one communications as those in which a person is communicating with another person as if face-to-face: a dialog. In general, rules of common courtesy for interaction with people should be in force for any situation and on the Internet it's doubly important where, for example, body language and tone of voice must be inferred. For more information on Netiquette for communicating via electronic mail and talk, check references [1,23,25,27] in the Selected Bibliography.

2.1 User Guidelines

2.1.1 For mail:

2.1.2 For talk:

Talk is a set of protocols which allow two people to have an interactive dialogue via computer.

2.2 Administrator Issues

3.0 One-to-Many Communication (Mailing Lists, NetNews)

Any time you engage in One-to-Many communications, all the rules for mail should also apply. After all, communicating with many people via one mail message or post is quite analogous to communicating with one person with the exception of possibly offending a great many more people than in one-to-one communication. Therefore, it's quite important to know as much as you can about the audience of your message.

3.1 User Guidelines

3.1.1 General Guidelines for mailing lists and NetNews

3.1.2 Mailing List Guidelines

There are several ways to find information about what mailing lists exist on the Internet and how to join them. Make sure you understand your organization's policy about joining these lists and posting to them. In general it is always better to check local resources first before trying to find information via the Internet. Nevertheless, there are a set of files posted periodically to news.answers which list the Internet mailing lists and how to subscribe to them. This is an invaluable resource for finding lists on any topic. See also references [9,13,15] in the Selected Bibliography.

3.1.3 NetNews Guidelines

NetNews is a globally distributed system which allows people to communicate on topics of specific interest. It is divided into hierarchies, with the major divisions being: sci - science related discussions; comp - computer related discussions; news - for discussions which center around NetNews itself; rec - recreational activities; soc - social issues; talk - long-winded never-ending discussions; biz - business related postings; and alt - the alternate hierarchy. alt is so named because creating an alt group does not go through the same process as creating a group in the other parts of the hierarchy. There are also regional hierarchies, hierarchies which are widely distributed such as Bionet, and your place of business may have its own groups as well. Recently, a "humanities" hierarchy was added, and as time goes on its likely more will be added. For longer discussions on News see references [2,8,22,23] in the Selected Bibliography.

  • In NetNews parlance, "Posting" refers to posting a new article to a group, or responding to a post someone else has posted. "Cross-Posting" refers to posting a message to more than one group. If you introduce Cross-Posting to a group, or if you direct "Followup-To:" in the header of your posting, warn readers! Readers will usually assume that the message was posted to a specific group and that followups will go to that group. headers change this behavior.

  • Read all of a discussion in progress (we call this a thread) before posting replies. Avoid posting "Me Too" messages, where content is limited to agreement with previous posts. content of a follow-up post should exceed quoted content.

  • Send mail when an answer to a question is for one person only. Remember that News has global distribution and the whole world probably is NOT interested in a personal response. However, don't hesitate to post when something will be of general interest to the Newsgroup participants.

  • Check the "Distribution" section of the header, but don't depend on it. Due to the complex method by which News is delivered, Distribution headers are unreliable. But, if you are posting something which will be of interest to a limited number or readers, use a distribution line that attempts to limit the distribution of your article to those people. For example, set the Distribution to be "nj" if you are posting an article that will be of interest only to New Jersey readers.

  • If you feel an article will be of interest to more than one Newsgroup, be sure to CROSSPOST the article rather than individually post it to those groups. In general, probably only five-to-six groups will have similar enough interests to warrant this.

  • Consider using Reference sources (Computer Manuals, Newspapers, help files) before posting a question. Asking a Newsgroup where answers are readily available elsewhere generates grumpy "RTFM" (read the fine manual - although a more vulgar meaning of the word beginning with "f" is usually implied) messages.

  • although there are Newsgroups which welcome advertising, in general it is considered nothing less than criminal to advertise off-topic products. Sending an advertisement to each and every group will pretty much guarantee your loss of connectivity.

  • If you discover an error in your post, cancel it as soon as possible.

  • DO NOT attempt to cancel any articles but your own. Contact your administrator if you don't know how to cancel your post, or if some other post, such as a chain letter, needs canceling.

  • If you've posted something and don't see it immediately, don't assume it's failed and re-post it.

  • Some groups permit (and some welcome) posts which in other circumstances would be considered to be in questionable taste. Still, there is no guarantee that all people reading the group will appreciate the material as much as you do. Use the Rotate utility (which rotates all the characters in your post by 13 positions in the alphabet) to avoid giving offense. The Rot13 utility for Unix is an example.

  • In groups which discuss movies or books it is considered essential to mark posts which disclose significant content as "Spoilers". Put this word in your Subject: line. You may add blank lines to the beginning of your post to keep content out of sight, or you may Rotate it.

  • Forging of news articles is generally censured. You can protect yourself from forgeries by using software which generates a manipulation detection "fingerprint", such as PGP (in the US).

  • Postings via anonymous servers are accepted in some Newsgroups and disliked in others. Material which is inappropriate when posted under one's own name is still inappropriate when posted anonymously.

  • Expect a slight delay in seeing your post when posting to a moderated group. The moderator may change your subject line to have your post conform to a particular thread.

  • Don't get involved in flame wars. Neither post nor respond to incendiary material.

  • 3.2 Administrator Guidelines

    3.2.1 General Issues

    3.2.2 Mailing Lists

    3.2.3. NetNews

    3.3 Moderator Guidelines

    3.3.1 General Guidelines

    4.0 Information Services (Gopher, Wais, WWW, ftp, telnet)

    In recent Internet history, the 'Net has exploded with new and varied Information services. Gopher, Wais, World Wide Web (WWW), Multi-User Dimensions (MUDs) Multi-User Dimensions which are Object Oriented (MOOs) are a few of these new areas. although the ability to find information is exploding, "Caveat Emptor" remains constant. For more information on these services, check references [14,28] in the Selected Bibliography.

    4.1 User Guidelines

    4.1.1. General guidelines

    4.1.2 Real Time Interactive Services Guidelines (MUDs MOOs IRC)

    4.2 Administrator Guidelines

    4.2.1 General Guidelines

    5.0 Selected Bibliography

    This bibliography was used to gather most of the information in the sections above as well as for general reference. Items not specifically found in these works were gathered from the IETF-RUN Working Group's experience.
    1. Angell, D., and B. Heslop, "The Elements of E-mail Style", New York: Addison-Wesley, 1994.

    2. "Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet"
      Original author: jerry@eagle.UUCP (Jerry Schwarz)
      Maintained by: netannounce@deshaw.com (Mark Moraes)
      Archive-name: usenet-faq/part1

    3. Cerf, V., "Guidelines for Conduct on and Use of Internet", at: here

    4. Dern, D., "The Internet Guide for New Users", New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994.

    5. "Emily Postnews Answers Your Questions on Netiquette"
      Original author: brad@looking.on.ca (brad Templeton)
      Maintained by: netannounce@deshaw.com (Mark Moraes)
      Archive-name: emily-postnews/part1

    6. Gaffin, A., "Everybody's Guide to the Internet", Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1994.

    7. "Guidelines for Responsible Use of the Internet" from the US house of Representatives gopher, at: here.

    8. How to find the right place to post (FAQ)
      by buglady@bronze.lcs.mit.edu (Aliza R. Panitz)
      Archive-name: finding-groups/general

    9. Hambridge, S., and J. Sedayao, "Horses and Barn Doors: Evolution of Corporate Guidelines for Internet Usage", LISA VII, Usenix, November 1-5, 1993, pp. 9-16. here.

    10. Heslop, B., and D. Angell, "The Instant Internet guide : Hands-on Global Networking", Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley, 1994.

    11. Horwitz, S., "Internet Etiquette Tips", here.

    12. Internet Activities Board, "Ethics and the Internet", RFC 1087, IAB, January 1989. here.

    13. Kehoe, B., "Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner's Guide", Netiquette information is spread through the chapters of this work. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ., Prentice-Hall, 1994.

    14. Kochmer, J., "Internet Passport: NorthWestNet's Guide to our World Online", 4th ed. Bellevue, Wash., NorthWestNet, Northwest Academic Computing Consortium, 1993.

    15. Krol, Ed, "The Whole Internet: User's Guide and Catalog", Sebastopol, CA, O'Reilly & Associates, 1992.

    16. Lane, E. and C. Summerhill, "Internet Primer for Information Professionals: a basic guide to Internet networking technology", Westport, CT, Meckler, 1993.

    17. LaQuey, T., and J. Ryer, "The Internet Companion", Chapter 3 "Communicating with People", pp 41-74. Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley, 1993.

    18. Mandel, T., "Surfing the Wild Internet", SRI International Business Intelligence Program, Scan No. 2109. March, 1993. here.

    19. Martin, J., "There's Gold in them thar Networks! or Searching for treasure in all the Wrong Places", FYI 10, RFC 1402, January 1993. here.

    20. Pioch, N., "A Short IRC Primer", Text conversion by Owe Rasmussen. Edition 1.1b, February 28, 1993. here.

    21. Polly, J., "Surfing the Internet: an Introduction", Version 2.0.3. Revised May 15, 1993. here.

    22. "A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community"
      Original author: chuq@apple.com (Chuq Von Rospach)
      Maintained by: netannounce@deshaw.com (Mark Moraes)
      Archive-name: usenet-primer/part1

    23. Rinaldi, A., "The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette", September 3, 1992. here.

    24. "Rules for posting to Usenet"
      Original author: spaf@cs.purdue.edu (Gene Spafford)
      Maintained by: netannounce@deshaw.com (Mark Moraes)
      Archive-name: posting-rules/part1

    25. Shea, V., "Netiquette", San Francisco: Albion Books, 1994?.

    26. Strangelove, M., with A. Bosley, "How to Advertise on the Internet", ISSN 1201-0758.

    27. Tenant, R., "Internet Basics", ERIC Clearinghouse of Information Resources, EDO-IR-92-7. September, 1992.

    6.0 Security Considerations

    Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

    7.0 Author's Address

    Sally Hambridge
    Intel Corporation
    2880 Northwestern Parkway
    Santa Clara, CA 95052

    Phone: 408-765-2931
    Fax: 408-765-3679
    EMail: sallyh@ludwig.sc.intel.com

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