Discussion Forum and Email Etiquette

Email and discussion boards will probably play a very important role in your online course! Here is a brief guide to email and discussion board etiquette:

  • Be considerate and appropriate when using the discussion board and the chat room. They are extensions of your classroom. Please keep in mind, as you contribute to a discussion forum or chat room, that not everyone comes from the same background, or shares the same values and ideals. Please be appropriate (professional) and considerate of others.
  • Be aware of your tone. The "tone" is a very important part of electronic communication. You might find it helpful to read your email or discussion board post out loud before you submit it. When you read your message out loud does it sound the way you would speak to another student in the classroom?
  • Use people's names (or nickname). When you reply to someone n a Discussion Forum, use their name! You can say "Hi Jessica" or "Hi Michael" or whatever their name/nickname might be. That is the only way you will really start to learn the names of the people in your online class!
  • Sign your email. Although email is often very informal in style, it is important to "sign" your email by including your name at the bottom of the email.
  • Sharing ideas. The point of a Discussion Forum is to share ideas, not to prove to others that you are right and that they are wrong. Differences of opinion are going to occur in any forum, and your goal should be simply to convey your ideas as clearly as possible.
  • Joking around. It is important to remember that tone of voice often plays an important role in letting people know that you are making a joke or being ironic. If you want to convey that tone in your email or discussion board post, you can learn to use smiley's or simply add parenthetical comments like "(just kidding!)". And be careful: sarcastic comments are easily misunderstood in any online discussion.
  • Reading and replying. Very often people will read postings in a Discussion Forum but not make a reply. Sometimes students become upset when they see that their post has been "read" but with no reply. This does not mean anything at all! Please do not feel offended or take that personally.
  • Reporting problems. If you find something in a Discussion Forum that strikes you as upsetting or unacceptable, please be sure to let your instructor know about it as soon as possible.

This document was modified from materials created by the University of Oklahoma.