Security and Privacy in a Networked World/Netiquette guide

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The Supervisor's Notes on the Netiquette[edit]

As our course is fully network-based, some notes on proper behaviour or netiquette (as you probably know, this comes from 'net' + 'etiquette') might be appropriate. I strongly suggest you to read the Netiquette, an online book by Virginia Shea - but for the lazier ones here, some quick pointers.

First - I can assure you that we are profoundly different. Even TLU IMKE students (the main audience of the course) come from a wide variety of backgrounds, participants from outside add even more diversity. And English is likely not the mother tongue for most people here (even if the course is in English). Sometimes, even the most grave insults come out as misunderstandings.

Imagine the hypothetical scenario from a chatroom:

  • A: Had a great barbecue yesterday - tons of ham, sausages and stuff! Yummy!
  • B: Bah, you eat that shit?????
  • A: ????? !!!!!! "&"%&%"//"/¤##%"%"!!!

(a real nasty virtual fisticuff follows)

What was the problem? A was your typical American youngster, B was a very dedicated vegan. What was a friendly sharing of experience for A, was a blatant promotion of a totally unacceptable behaviour for B. And what was a perceivedly justified reaction for B, was totally unprovoked hostility for A.

Actually, both parties could have avoided the conflict. B, while irritated, should have just said "Sorry, I don't eat meat. I'm a vegan". In this case, if A was sincere and did not mean to provoke, an apology would have followed and both would have understood the reason.

Some suggestions[edit]

  1. Know where you go and what is the topic. A negative example: coming to the weekly discussion without reading the topics first. :)
  2. If the tone or atmosphere of a discussion is not suitable for you, consider if you have to join at all. But anyway, read and think first, write later (see the scenario above).
  3. A note of caution: earning respect in an online community is not that easy and takes some time. On the other hand, it is extremely easy to earn the label of an idiot - what is really hard, is to get rid of it.
  4. Even if you oppose someone, do not stress your opposition all the time. Try to find at least some points in common.
  5. Again - before jumping into a heated discussion, take a break. Read it first and be sure that you understood the other side correctly.
  6. Don't be afraid to say "I don't know" and admit that you were wrong.
  7. Personal attacks (argumentum ad hominem) are out - this is not politics here.
  8. In case of a conflict, there are two suggestions. First, don't react immediately to an offense - take your time and think about it first. On the other hand, the Biblical wisdom "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (KJV; Eph 4:26) makes a good point. Most conflict tend to escalate over time when not dealt with. So - take your time, but not too much.
  9. Remember the Human - the first Commandment in Virginia Shea's book. We are interacting not with cables and computers but other human beings.


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