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Under the Netiquette (also netiquette written, a portmanteau word from the English net for the " power " and the French etiquette for the " Code of Conduct ") refers to the good or adequate and respecting (respectful) behavior in the technical (electronic) communication. The term originally described behavioral recommendations in Usenet , but is now used for all areas in data networks . Even if considered useful by many network participants, the netiquette usually has no legal relevance. Partial aspects of netiquette are often discussed controversially. What is (still) accepted in the network as good interaction with one another varies widely and depends on the participants within the communication system, whereby it is up to the respective operator / responsible person to specify the type and extent of the netiquette, to monitor compliance with it and Negatively sanction violations by excluding participants . There is no uniform netiquette text, but a multitude of texts and recommendations.


The aim of netiquette is to ensure that communication is as pleasant as possible for all participants. A document that is widely recognized on the internet is RFC 1855 . Some examples of common rules:

The wording and content should be appropriate for the target audience (is only one person addressed or a group, how well do you already know each other, etc.). In particular, rudeness, ambiguity or even insults should not make communication by text that lacks meaning through non-verbal signals more difficult. In single forums, it is good form to state whether you are bound or single. This is how you protect yourself and others from unpleasant surprises.
The standards for the transmission of messages should be adhered to so that they are not mutilated or falsified on the way through numerous different systems and appear to as many readers as possible in the form originally intended. This includes in the transmission of e-mails about the correct declaration of the character set or compliance with a maximum line length of 78 characters (see RFC 2822 ).
In order for messages to be read as easily as possible, they should follow certain practices. This includes correct sentence structure and spelling (including upper and lower case), quoting by indenting (with ">" in front of each line - and without changing the wording) and omitting unnecessary information (do not always quote everything!). Unnecessary formatting (HTML messages) and excessive use of colors should also be avoided. A maximum line length of around 65 characters is recommended, otherwise the usual line length of 80 characters would be exceeded in the case of multiple indented quotations (after a long correspondence) and the display on text screens (or in console windows) would be confusing. Writing in CAPITAL LETTERS or continuous bold is not only considered unsightly, but is usually interpreted as aggressive shouting and should therefore be avoided. In addition, it is considered intrusive and impolite to line up multiple punctuation marks. So that e-mails can be recorded and assigned quickly and their later findability is easier, the subject should be meaningful and related to the content of the e-mail. For this reason, it is frowned upon if different topics are mixed up in an email or if new topics are introduced as a result of ongoing email communication without the subject being adjusted accordingly.
Depending on the medium, people for whom the content is not actually intended can view a message. Accordingly, one should conceal what is not intended for third parties.
There are different laws for the use of third-party material such as images or text. In the German-speaking area, copyright and the right to quote must be observed. The participants are to be informed of the applicable rules.

Forums, Usenet

The first and basic recommendation of Usenet netiquette is:

"Never forget that there is a person on the other side !"

Individual recommendations of the netiquette are sometimes criticized, for example the demand for a real name , according to which it was considered impolite on the German-speaking Usenet to post under a false name ( code name or pseudonym ). In many forums and partly also on Usenet, this recommendation has lost its importance since the beginning of 2000. Since then, anonymous participation in a forum has been increasingly accepted, especially if it appears desirable or necessary due to the topic or the type of discussion. In many forums, for example in larger mailing lists, preference will still be given to the real name.

Caution is advised when using crosspostings . Are frowned upon entirely multi postings .

People who - sometimes to an exaggerated degree - voluntarily devote themselves to checking compliance with netiquette are often disparagingly called netcops .

In most German-speaking forums, Duzen has also established itself as a form of address. If you do it, it can be understood as an expression of distance. By way of comparison: in France, for example, people always eat. In some other languages, such as English , this problem does not exist or only to a limited extent. The salutation "you" does not distinguish directly between "you" and "you", but it does use the salutation by first or last name or Mr./Mrs., Academic title, etc.


In chat , netiquette becomes chatiquette . The anonymity of a chat repeatedly tempts participants to make statements that they would refrain from in non-electronic forms of communication . These range from penetrating attempts at flirtation and unkindness to mobbing and insults. Many different chatiquettes have been written in order to give chatters clues about the appropriate behavior in a chat, but all of them are similar in the most important points: Insults, racist remarks and constant bullying, for example, are considered undesirable. It is also not welcome to write in capital letters or noticeably enlarged letters, as this is understood as screaming.

Chat operators usually pay attention to these points and also punish violations, for example by blocking the participant.

Social media


In 2010 the German Knigge Council , a private group that was founded by Adolph Freiherr Knigge on the basis of the now classic guide on dealing with people , published rules of courtesy for dealing with social networks .

The twelve-point program of the "Social Media Etiquette" shows that social media produce a different form of networking than communities in the previously common newsgroups, mailing lists or web forums, in which the focus was on the discussion of topics Social media is primarily about the links that virtually create, receive and fill in personal contact. Accordingly, in netiquette, social interaction with one another is in the foreground and less the purely technical operation of the software, for example the news reader, in order to create an article that is as easy to read as possible. The user interface is the same for all users anyway and cannot be changed.

Above all, the careful selection of the networks that you use was recommended, but warned against too “clumsy confidentiality” and advised to distance yourself from friend inquiries: “Your customers are not necessarily your 'friends' and may find this term inappropriate or too intimate . “One should refuse unwanted inquiries, avoid harassment and exclude trolls , overall one should try to stay lively and humorous. With everything you do on social networks, you should ask yourself: "Do I want my message to be found and read in two years?"


Two years later, in 2012, recommendations for maintaining privacy on social networks followed in a so-called "privacy etiquette". The focus was on advice on controlling virtual privacy by configuring the settings of your own account on the social network. One should carefully consider "whether one wants to make one's political views, sexual orientation or marital status public for everyone" and one should consider the pillory effect of public statements on the Internet.


  • Thor Alexander: Electronic etiquette . Netiquette and rules of conduct for professional and private tele and online communication. Rhombos, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-937231-54-9 .
  • Thor Alexander: etiquette for social networks. Entry into Web 2.0; Success in the interactive web - stylish handling, controllable privacy . Rhombos, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-941216-32-7 .
  • Katja Cronauer : Communicate, organize and mobilize via email lists , email campaigns for activists. Edition AV'88 , Lich 2009, ISBN 978-3-86841-010-5 (Contains a detailed part about manners, tips for e-mail senders and solving problems that can arise when communicating online).
  • Martina Dressel: E-mail etiquette. The original. 3rd, completely revised edition, Web Gold Akademie, Freital / Dresden, Luzern, Calgary 2008, ISBN 978-3-00-026059-9 .
  • Gundolf S. Freyermuth : Communicette 2.0. Heise, Hannover 2002, ISBN 3-88229-191-5 .
  • Alfred Walze: On the subject of e-mail. "The Netiquette" . In: Office economics, teaching and practice. KMI office management, Bonn 2001, ISSN  0178-594X .

Web links

Wiktionary: Netiquette  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. S. Hambridge: Netiquette Guidelines. Retrieved June 12, 2017 (English).
  2. Andreas M. Kirchwitz: The Netiquette . In: de.newusers.infos. August 8, 2006. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  3. Elmar K. Bins, Boris-A. Piwinger: Newsgroups - discuss worldwide: [Access to Usenet, overview of hierarchies, effective use of discussion forums; CD-ROM: Internet trial access from Netsurf, newsreader, news-enabled WWW browser, PGP 2.6.3] . 1st edition. Boarding school Thomson Publ, Bonn [a. a.] 1997, ISBN 3-8266-0297-8 , pp. 240 .
  4. ^ Rules of courtesy for social networks. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 18, 2012 ; accessed on November 22, 2015 .
  5. Friendship at the first click: Knigge-Rat warns against naive leveling out in social networks . In: Knigge-Rat . July 31, 2010 ( [accessed February 19, 2018]).
  6. Privacy etiquette protects privacy in social networks . In: Knigge-Rat . January 2, 2012 ( [accessed February 19, 2018]).