Netiquette Guide

Netiquette Guide

Professional online communication

The University of Wollongong’s online communication for e-teaching and learning is based on two premises:

  • online discussion forums play an important role in graduates professional lives
  • student learning is improved in a community.

Online forums are important to professionals today. They enable us to keep up to date with colleagues and new ideas related to our work. Online discussion forums offer us a way to read what others have said or posted when we next "log-on" to the discussion.

At the University of Wollongong many of the subjects now include online communication via the various WebCT Vista communication tools. To help make discussions more effective here are some simple guidelines.

Write effectively and professionally

Find your own voice

A secret to good virtual communication is developing a style that reflects who you are. After a few weeks of a good online discussions you should begin to know some of your fellow students , and they you, because your personalities will begin to emerge through postings.

It is important to develop a style that is both appropriate yet genuine. You should aim to form a good professional reputation online, especially in terms of quality of content. You want to become a person about whom others say: "I always read so and so posts because I know they'll be good!"

Stick to the topic

When you are in a discussion thread keep your ideas focused on the ideas being discussed. If you want to express a new idea you might put in a new subject title or start in a new thread. 

Use subject titles

Name your postings with a title that lets people know what the message is about.

Keep it short

You don’t have to share everything you know about a topic. Keep your messages short enough so that it can be read on a single screen without scrolling is ideal.

Use attachments

Short paragraphs can help the reader, but if you’ve got something longer to say think about using an attachment.

Be respectful

Share the floor

Not everyone can get online as regularly, or has the confidence to post ideas as often, bear this in mind and try not to dominate the discussion. Give others space and air time so everyone can be heard equally.

Acknowledge before differing

Let the author know your interpretation of their ideas before adding a contrary position. “What I think you mean is... Have I got it right? My own view differs as follows...”

Avoid offending others

Any derogatory or inappropriate comments regarding race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, are unacceptable and subject to the same disciplinary action that they would receive if they occurred in the physical classroom.

Make it interesting

Add a human touch

We all like to feel as though someone has heard what we said. When you are responding to another student's post you might like to use their name. For example:

I’ve been thinking about what Jess said last week about government funding for filmmakers, and I think I agree. But this also made me wonder if the argument applies to all filmmakers, or just successful ones. Jess, do you think the government should give more money to established filmmakers, or to people just starting out?

Stop problems early

Let someone know

Most problems are easily solved, but we have to hear from you before we can help. If you run into any difficulties, don’t wait! Contact your lecturer, tutor or subject coordinator immediately through their preferred method (you will be advised of these at the beginning of session and will be included your subject outline).

Ask questions

If you don't understand what someone said online, ask them to clarify it.

Avoid common errors

Did I say that?

Re-read your ideas and tidy up the punctuation, sentences etc. When you're satisfied hit "send". Never hit "send" when you are responding in anger, draft it in a word processing software and sleep on it.




"Flaming," or flying off the handle and ranting at someone else is unacceptable; it’s the equivalent of having a tantrum, something most of us wouldn’t do in an onsite, face to face classroom.

When flaming escalates into a heated online discussion or "flame war" it is very offensive to other readers. Avoid saying anything that may offend another person. If you see it happening report it to your lecturer, tutor or subject coordinator.

Exclusionary online text conventions

For some of you this University will be your first experience in communicating virtually. Others will be experienced with recreational tools such as instant messaging, text messaging etc.

In the same way that we speak differently to our friend than we do employers, it is important to adjust your existing skills for a professional/academic environment.

Electronic communication has developed into a language of its own. While abbreviations are quick they can exclude students, unfamiliar with the language, from the conversation.

Think about who you are talking with before you use abbreviations, text messaging conventions or other exclusionary types of language.

Keep it legal

Acknowledge the original author

If you’re copying something written by someone else, they own the rights to that. Just like in an essay, put it in quotes and give the author credit.

Illegal downloads

Never use the Discussion space to share illegal files eg. Downloaded mp3.


Plagiarism, cheating and other violations of ethical student behaviour are serious actions in a learning community. You should expect to be treated accordingly.

Read the rules

Make yourself aware of University policies, if you know the rules you won’t go wrong.

You have specific obligations as a user of the University's computing facilities including not using another person's name/password and not using computing facilities, to harass others or to interfere with their work.

Specific policies regarding the above actions are spelled out in official University publications. It is a good idea to read the university’s policies by visiting the web site at:

Student Rights & Responsibilities

Last reviewed: 17 November, 2014


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How does eLearning@UOW benefit me?

The goal for eLearning@UOW is to support active independent learning as well as collaborative learning communities.

In developing competence as an eLearner you will be developing a number of the Graduate Qualities, including:

  • skills to enable you to become an independent learner
  • the capacity to act responsibly
  • problem-solving skills