Proper Netiquette includes reading this column

As I agonize about writing this opening paragraph,

I wonder what type of people read this column. I mean,

are they reading this while they chew gum with their

mouths wide open, are they chewing their toenails or,

worse yet, are they putting gum between their toes?

OK, I really wasn't thinking about that, I was wondering

how much Dr Pepper I could drink. But this brings up

a good point about etiquette. I guess if you were home

alone, you could put gum anywhere you like, as long

as you have a jar of peanut butter handy. But in the

real world, and on the computer, it helps to have some

etiquette skills.

If you use a public computer, there are a few simple

steps you should take each time you sit (or stand, if

you are shorter than a printer table) so other people

in the computer lab won't think you are armed with Krazy

Glue.

• You should be at a terminal by yourself. If

you are working on a group project or you just want

to show your friends the

Texas Department of Criminal Justice's list of final

meal requests, that's fine, as long as you don't

stay there for three weeks.

• Never turn your music or sound up so high that

a person three labs down thinks there's a party and

orders pizza. The person might not realize you don't

like sausage!

• You can be louder than in a library when discussing

work with others, but don't be as loud as you would

be at a baseball game. That is, unless someone is walking

around the office selling Cracker Jacks.

• There should be no food and drink around the

computer. I say this as I take a sip of my Dr Pepper.

If you are allowed to bring that sort of stuff into

the lab, make sure your hands are clean when typing

and using the mouse. You aren't doing the next guy a

favor by leaving him half of a pepperoni.

• If you are logged in, you should log out before

you leave. The area should be left exactly the way it

was before you got there. Leave a tip for the Cracker

Jack vendor if necessary.

If you aren't using a public computer, there are still

plenty of etiquette rules by which to abide. I found

a slew of sites pertaining to everything from e-mail

flaming to online wedding registries. The best summary

of these rules can be found under Netiquette

Guidelines, but you may also want to check out the

DMOZ

listings for Computers: Internet: Etiquette for

even more links. Of course, to expediate things, I've

condensed the rules to a few simple points so even gum

in your toes won't slow you down.

• Never send chain letters. First of all, I've

seen every chain letter. Hasn't everyone? Why do people

still send them? YOU WON'T BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING IF

YOU DON'T SEND ONE!

• Do not type in all caps because it looks as if

you are yelling at someone. For instance, I was yelling

at my computer about sending chain letters and yelling

for the Frosty Malt vendor, who is scanning photos right

now.

• When sending a reply, check your mail to make

sure it is going to the appropriate correspondents.

Only perform a Reply All if you really want to reply

to all 65,403 people who just received a chain letter

from your supposedly best friend.

• Use emoticons only when necessary. Some examples

are a smiley face :) and a frowny face :( . I've also

devised a few new ones: |\\\\\\| (a bookshelf), ={)

(a rabbit with a moustache) and 8-)}= (Richard Simmons).

• When chatting with someone online, you should

always say goodbye in some form. Because people's connection

speeds are different, you never know when the person

has left or just doesn't want to talk to you. Sending

the person the Richard Simmons emoticon is also an adequate

way of saying goodbye.

These tips should suffice for now. Visit those links

for a more in-depth look at etiquette on the Internet.

I've got to get back to work, crank the music up and

finish my Dr Pepper.