Netiquette Guide for Online Courses

It is important for you as a student to recognize that the online classroom is, in fact, a classroom, and certain behaviors are expected when you communicate with both your peers and your instructors. These guidelines for online behavior and interaction are known as “netiquette”.

The purpose of the following information is to help you be a more effective and successful student when communicating via email, chat rooms, or on discussion boards as a part of your online learning activities at Southeastern Community College.


When communicating online, you should always:

  • Treat your instructor(s) with respect, even in email, or in any other online communication.
  • Always use your professors’ proper title: Dr. or Prof., or if you’re in doubt use Mr. or Ms.
  • Unless specifically invited, don’t refer to them by the first name. Some will be OK called “Bob” and others will expect to be “Mr. Smith”.
  • Use clear and concise language. Be respectful of readers’ time and attention.
  • Remember that all college-level communication should have correct spelling and grammar. Also, avoid using slang and text language.
  • Avoid using the caps lock feature AS IT CAN BE INTERPRETED AS YELLING.
  • Be cautious when using humor or sarcasm as the tone is sometimes lost in an email or discussion post and your message might be taken literally or offensively.
  • Be careful sharing personal information online (both yours and others).


When posting on the Discussion Board in your online class, you should:

  • Make posts that are on-topic and within the scope of the course material. If necessary, re-read the instructions from your instructor.
  • Take your posts seriously and review and edit your posts before sending. (Would you put sloppy writing with poor grammar in a formal research paper?)
  • Be as brief as possible while still making a thorough comment.
  • Always give proper credit when referencing or quoting another source.
  • Be sure to read all messages in a thread before replying.
  • Don’t repeat someone else’s post without adding something of your own to it.
  • Avoid short, generic replies such as, “I agree.” You should include why you agree or add to the previous point. The point of a discussion in an online course is to help you and your other students learn through an in-depth consideration of important topics.
  • Always be respectful of others’ opinions even when they differ from your own. When you disagree with someone, you should express your differing opinion in a respectful, non-critical way.
  • Be open-minded as that is one of the major points of participating in an open classroom discussion.


When you send an email to your instructor, teaching assistant, or classmates, you should:

  • Use a clear and descriptive subject line as a way to give them a reason to open your email.
  • Include a polite salutation.
  • Identify yourself, your course, and section number.
  • Use formal language (no text slang), and be concise.
  • Sign your message with your name and return e-mail address. Make sure they know how to contact you.
  • If you are sending an email while upset or angry, think about not sending it until you’ve cooled off. A 24-hour resting period is often a good idea.