As long as people have been living near each other they've had social customs - ways that they behave toward each other. That's how they live in peace.

Netiquette is a batch of social customs for life online. Who coined that word? I have no clue. Its origins are (cue spooky music) lost in the dim swirling mists of early internet history. But we still need these principles, maybe more than ever.

  1. Don't use ALL CAPS. That's considered shouting, and it's hard to read. You could use all caps to emphasize a point, but the standard for that is to enclose the word or words in asterisks (*).

  2. Set your email up right. Some folks don't like HTML, some email programs don't do a great job of reading it, and more email programs do an awful job of creating it. Plain text, in lines of 72 characters or fewer, is always safe, and will earn you friends.

  3. Being conversational and casual is a good thing. Being wordy and repetitive - not so much. Good grammar and syntax may seem like effort, but you never know when a future employer might be reading your words.

  4. Use email subjects that make sense. If you're vague and general, some people will never read the message.

  5. When the thread goes off topic, it's time to change the subject line. Don't wait for someone else to do it.

  6. If you're a newbie, it's considered respectful to lurk for a while before you post. Lurking also gives you time to check the archive to see if your question's already been answered.

  7. Don't type anything that you wouldn't say to a person's face.

  8. No one knows from your tone of voice whether you're serious or joking. That's where emoticons can help. Try not to overdo it.

  9. When you reply, quote or paraphrase only the part you're talking about. That's what your email editor is for.

  10. Don't post just to say "I agree," especially if you quote the entire message. That's how you get called a dittohead.

  11. If you're replying to only one person, use private email. Double check that TO address! Saying things in public that you meant to say in private can be uncomfortable, or worse. I've been there.

  12. Think before you send. Your message is going to be archived. It'll probably hang around the net until the world ends. Before you hit send, think: Would I want a potential employer or life partner to read this?

  13. Finally, if someone's breaking these rules, and you just have to say something, say it in private email. No matter how rude the person was, reaming him or her in public is even ruder. And as always, trolls are best starved.