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Online Course Nettiquette Guidelines

The basic premise is that the etiquette expected of students in the online environment is the same as that which we expect in a classroom. Online communication lacks visual and auditory clues. In face-to-face discussions, these clues contribute a lot of nonverbal nuances of meaning carrying an intangible amount of weight. The absence of these cues can quickly lead to misunderstandings in the online environment.

Common courtesy is the guiding rule of online communications. Be prepared to communicate effectively when taking an online course. Following these simple netiquette rules in your online class to ensure your success.


This is a shared learning environment. It is not enough to log in and read the discussion thread of others. For the maximum benefit to all, everyone must contribute.

Be Respectful.

The tone of messages in an academic environment should be polite and display respect for others. Do not dominate any discussion. Give other students the opportunity to join in the discussion. Communication should be tactful, with disagreements based on scholarly ideas or research evidence.

Avoid Repetition.

Read everything in the discussion thread before replying. This will help you avoid repeating something someone else has already contributed. Students should contribute by adding to the discussion, not by repeating in their own words what others have already posted. Acknowledge the points made with which you agree and suggest alternatives for those with which you don’t.

Be Brief.

You want to be clear and articulate your point. Be direct. Stay on point. Don’t lose yourself, or your readers, in overly wordy sentences or paragraphs.

Use Proper Writing Style.

This is a must. Write as if you were writing a term paper. Correct spelling, grammatical construction, and sentence structure are expected in every other writing activity associated with scholarship and academic engagement, and online discussions are no different.

Cite Your Sources.

Another big must! If your contribution to the conversation includes the intellectual property (authored material) of others, e.g., books, newspaper, magazine, or journal articles—online or in print—they must be given proper attribution.

Respect Diversity.

It’s an ethnically rich and diverse, multicultural world in which we live. Use no language that is or that could be construed to be offensive toward others. Students should respect diversity and opinions that differ from their own. Refrain from inappropriate language and derogatory or personal attacks.

No Shouting.

Never type in all upper-case letters, because it reads as if you are shouting at people.

No Flaming.

Criticism must be constructive, well-meaning, and well-articulated. Refrain from inappropriate language and derogatory or personal attacks. Act as professionally, via your writing, as you would in a face-to-face classroom.


Read your post out loud before hitting the send button. This will tell you a lot about whether your grammar and sentence structure are correct, your tone is appropriate, and your contribution clear or not.

Be aware of West Virginia University’s Academic Integrity and Dishonesty Policy You can review the rules, regulations, and procedures concerning student conduct and discipline for the main campus of West Virginia University, at

This work, “Online Course Netiquette Guidelines”, is a derivative of “Creative Commons Netiquette: Ground Rules for Online Discussions by Peter Connor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.