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Dave's Beginners Guide to the Internet

Net Etiquette and Shorthand

Net Etiquette

There are a few things you should try to remember if you want to be treated with respect from the online community.

  • Don't type everything in CAPITAL LETTERS. A sentence typed in capital letters is considered yelling by the online community, and it makes you look like a goof.
  • If you are sending an e-mail to or communicating with someone you don't know well enough to be informal with:
    • Address them with respect.
    • Use complete sentences with proper capitalization and punctuation.
    • Do not use shorthand abbreviations, especially u for you, because you'll look like a goof.
    • Don't use profane language.
  • Laws applicable offline are almost always applicable online. Do not break a law. Do not harass or defame individuals. Do not pirate (that is, make illegal copies of) copyrighted material such as web sites, music, and software. You can be sued or prosecuted from your online activity just as you can be sued or prosecuted from your offline activities.


In many informal situations on the Internet you may see a lot of shorthand. It saves times to use shorthand. Just remember not to use shorthand in formal situations where it may not be appropriate.

Some common shorthand includes:

  • wb - welcome back (sometimes write back in an e-mail)
  • lol - lots of laughter or laughing out loud
  • rofl - rolls on floor laughing
  • roflmao - rolls on floor laughing my a** off
  • asl or a/s/l - age / sex / location query. Used in informal chat situations to get to know people. A proper response would be something like 25/f/ca if you were a 25 year old female from California.
This is just a tiny list of shorthand. If you don't know what an abbreviation means, ask the person who wrote it. You should get used to it pretty quickly.

Next Chapter: Anonymity and Privacy