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Status of This Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


This document provides a minimum set of guidelines for Network Etiquette (Netiquette) which organizations may take and adapt for their own use. As such, it is deliberately written in a bulleted format to make adaptation easier and to make any particular item easy (or easier) to find. It also functions as a minimum set of guidelines for individuals, both users and administrators. This memo is the product of the Responsible Use of the Network (RUN) Working Group of the IETF.

Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction

In the past, the population of people using the Internet had "grown up" with the Internet, were technically minded, and understood the nature of the transport and the protocols. Today, the community of Internet users includes people who are new to the environment. These "Newbies" are unfamiliar with the culture and don't need to know about transport and protocols. In order to bring these new users into the Internet culture quickly, this Guide offers a minimum set of behaviors which organizations and individuals may take and adapt for their own use. Individuals should be aware that no matter who supplies their Internet access, be it an Internet Service Provider through a private account, or a student account at a University, or an account through a corporation, that those organizations have regulations about ownership of mail and files, about what is proper to post or send, and how to present yourself. Be sure to check with the local authority for specific guidelines.

We've organized this material into three sections: One-to-one communication, which includes mail and talk; One-to-many communications, which includes mailing lists and NetNews; and Information Services, which includes ftp, WWW, Wais, Gopher, MUDs and MOOs. Finally, we have a Selected Bibliography, which may be used for reference.

2.0 One-to-One Communication (electronic mail, talk)

We define one-to-one communications as those in which a person is communicating with another person as if face-to-face: a dialog. In general, rules of common courtesy for interaction with people should be in force for any situation and on the Internet it's doubly important where, for example, body language and tone of voice must be inferred. For more information on Netiquette for communicating via electronic mail and talk, check references [1,23,25,27] in the Selected Bibliography.

2.1 User Guidelines

2.1.1 For mail:

2.1.2 For talk:

Talk is a set of protocols which allow two people to have an interactive dialogue via computer.

2.2 Administrator Issues

3.0 One-to-Many Communication (Mailing Lists, NetNews)

Any time you engage in One-to-Many communications, all the rules for mail should also apply. After all, communicating with many people via one mail message or post is quite analogous to communicating with one person with the exception of possibly offending a great many more people than in one-to-one communication. Therefore, it's quite important to know as much as you can about the audience of your message.

3.1 User Guidelines

3.1.1 General Guidelines for mailing lists and NetNews

3.1.2 Mailing List Guidelines

There are several ways to find information about what mailing lists exist on the Internet and how to join them. Make sure you understand your organization's policy about joining these lists and posting to them. In general it is always better to check local resources first before trying to find information via the Internet. Nevertheless, there are a set of files posted periodically to news.answers which list the Internet mailing lists and how to subscribe to them. This is an invaluable resource for finding lists on any topic. See also references [9,13,15] in the Selected Bibliography.

3.1.3 NetNews Guidelines

NetNews is a globally distributed system which allows people to communicate on topics of specific interest. It is divided into hierarchies, with the major divisions being: sci - science related discussions; comp - computer related discussions; news - for discussions which center around NetNews itself; rec - recreational activities; soc - social issues; talk - long-winded never-ending discussions; biz - business related postings; and alt - the alternate hierarchy. Alt is so named because creating an alt group does not go through the same process as creating a group in the other parts of the hierarchy. There are also regional hierarchies, hierarchies which are widely distributed such as Bionet, and your place of business may have its own groups as well. Recently, a "humanities" hierarchy was added, and as time goes on its likely more will be added. For longer discussions on News see references [2,8,22,23] in the Selected Bibliography.

3.2 Administrator Guidelines

3.2.1 General Issues

3.2.2 Mailing Lists

3.2.3. NetNews

3.3 Moderator Guidelines

3.3.1 General Guidelines

4.0 Information Services (Gopher, Wais, WWW, ftp, telnet)

In recent Internet history, the 'Net has exploded with new and varied Information services. Gopher, Wais, World Wide Web (WWW), Multi-User Dimensions (MUDs) Multi-User Dimensions which are Object Oriented (MOOs) are a few of these new areas. Although the ability to find information is exploding, "Caveat Emptor" remains constant. For more information on these services, check references [14,28] in the Selected Bibliography.

4.1 User Guidelines

4.1.1. General guidelines

4.1.2 Real Time Interactive Services Guidelines (MUDs MOOs IRC)

4.2 Administrator Guidelines

4.2.1 General Guidelines

5.0 Selected Bibliography

This bibliography was used to gather most of the information in the sections above as well as for general reference. Items not specifically found in these works were gathered from the IETF-RUN Working Group's experience.
   [1]  Angell, D., and B. Heslop, "The Elements of E-mail Style",
        New York: Addison-Wesley, 1994.

   [2]  "Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet"
        Original author: jerry@eagle.UUCP (Jerry Schwarz)
        Maintained by: (Mark Moraes)
        Archive-name: usenet-faq/part1

   [3]  Cerf, V., "Guidelines for Conduct on and Use of
        Internet", at:

   [4]  Dern, D., "The Internet Guide for New Users", New York:
        McGraw-Hill, 1994.

   [5]  "Emily Postnews Answers Your Questions on Netiquette"
        Original author: (Brad Templeton)
        Maintained by: (Mark Moraes)
        Archive-name: emily-postnews/part1

   [6]  Gaffin, A., "Everybody's Guide to the Internet",  Cambridge,
        Mass., MIT Press, 1994.

   [7]  "Guidelines for Responsible Use of the Internet"
        from the US house of Representatives gopher, at:

   [8]  How to find the right place to post (FAQ)
        by (Aliza R. Panitz)
        Archive-name: finding-groups/general

   [9]  Hambridge, S., and J. Sedayao, "Horses and Barn Doors:
        Evolution of Corporate Guidelines for Internet Usage",
        LISA VII, Usenix, November 1-5, 1993, pp. 9-16. or horses.ascii>

   [10] Heslop, B., and D. Angell, "The Instant Internet guide :
        Hands-on Global Networking", Reading, Mass., Addison-Wesley,

   [11] Horwitz, S., "Internet Etiquette Tips",

   [12] Internet Activities Board, "Ethics and the Internet", RFC 1087,
        IAB, January 1989.

   [13] Kehoe, B., "Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner's
        Guide", Netiquette information is spread through the chapters
        of this work. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ., Prentice-Hall,

   [14] Kochmer, J., "Internet Passport: NorthWestNet's Guide
        to our World Online",  4th ed.  Bellevue, Wash.,
        NorthWestNet, Northwest Academic Computing Consortium, 1993.

   [15] Krol, Ed, "The Whole Internet: User's Guide and
        Catalog", Sebastopol, CA, O'Reilly & Associates,

   [16] Lane, E. and C. Summerhill, "Internet Primer for
        Information Professionals: a basic guide to Internet networking
        technology", Westport, CT, Meckler, 1993.

   [17] LaQuey, T., and J. Ryer, "The Internet Companion",
        Chapter 3 "Communicating with People", pp 41-74. Reading,
        MA, Addison-Wesley, 1993.

   [18] Mandel, T., "Surfing the Wild Internet", SRI International
        Business Intelligence Program, Scan No. 2109.  March, 1993.

   [19] Martin, J., "There's Gold in them thar Networks! or Searching for
        Treasure in all the Wrong Places", FYI 10, RFC 1402,
        January 1993.

   [20] Pioch, N., "A Short IRC Primer", Text conversion
        by Owe Rasmussen.  Edition 1.1b, February 28, 1993.

   [21] Polly, J., "Surfing the Internet: an Introduction",
        Version 2.0.3.  Revised May 15, 1993.

   [22] "A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Community"
        Original author: (Chuq Von Rospach)
        Maintained by: (Mark Moraes)
        Archive-name: usenet-primer/part1

   [23] Rinaldi, A., "The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette",
        September 3, 1992.

   [24] "Rules for posting to Usenet"
        Original author: (Gene Spafford)
        Maintained by: (Mark Moraes)
        Archive-name: posting-rules/part1

   [25] Shea, V., "Netiquette", San Francisco: Albion Books,

   [26] Strangelove, M., with A. Bosley, "How to Advertise
        on the Internet", ISSN 1201-0758.

   [27] Tenant, R., "Internet Basics", ERIC Clearinghouse of Information
        Resources, EDO-IR-92-7.  September, 1992.

   [28] Wiggins, R., "The Internet for everyone: a guide for
        users and providers", New York, McGraw-Hill, 1995.

6.0 Security Considerations

Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

7.0 Author's Address

Intel Corporation
2880 Northwestern Parkway
Santa Clara, CA 95052
Phone: 408-765-2931
Fax: 408-765-3679

Source Document: RFC 1855
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