Your guide to social media etiquette v0.1

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Your guide to social media etiquette v0.1
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Rule 8: Assume the best 

It's easy to take a comment the wrong way and even the use of emoticons, those :) smiley faces, don't always convey the correct intent.

And social media is global so customs and accepted behaviours vary wildly through the world.

When in doubt, ask politely for clarification. Otherwise, just let any slight, real or inferred, slide. It's not worth breaking Rule 1.

Rule 9: No one likes a grammar and spelling vulture ...

... But the quality of your expression will influence people towards your point of view.

Rule 10: Stay on topic

If you spam your network with useless trivia or whore your online persona to marketers your network will shrivel.

Rule 11: If in doubt, don't post

We've all said and done things we regretted later. But online it may last forever.

Hold your fire on questionable comments and be careful of entering heated conversations (ie flame wars).

And even well-meaning banter may be taken out of context so consider everything you say to be taken literally.

Rule 12: Enjoy another's right to disagree with you

Be like Mark Twain - be prepared to entertain an idea without having to agree with it. Some of the most interesting discussions are those that test your reality. Some of the best friendships are based on mutual respect for another's point of view even when it isn't one with which you agree.

Rule 13: Be genuine

It's often better not to reply than to reply with an autoresponder or "bot". If you respond to a post, be honest, fair and considerate.

Rule 14: Know what's yours

Don't reveal proprietary, secret or commercially confidential information. Stay within copyright and defamation laws.

Rule 15: Know your place

As Gutnick v Dow Jones proved, offence is incurred where it is taken not where a post is made. You may be sued, prosecuted, extradited and imprisoned under the laws of a foreign country even though in your own what you posted was legal. Be sensitive to jurisdictions. Refer to Rule 11 if in doubt.

Rule 16: Keep it civil

Don't swear, use racist or sexist epithets, taunt or bully others. Play nicely.

Nate Cochrane has been involved in social media forums since he went online in 1983. He founded and moderated the ITLizard e-mail listgroup for Australia's IT journalists for 10 years from 1997. He thanks his social-media network including RuthAnn Hogue, Christian Heinrich, Jennifer Leggio and Sarah Mitchell for their ideas.

But it doesn't end here! This is a work in progress. Add your thoughts to the comments below and encourage others to visit and share their ideas so we can develop this etiquette guide to keep it current with social media trends.

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