We've put together a handy guide to provide information on how to interact respectfully online while studying at uni
General net etiquette
Alan Redpath has often been accredited with the THINK acronym. The THINK acronym may also help you consider whether a comment should be posted.
T = Is it true?
H = Is it helpful?
I = Is it inspiring?
N = Is it necessary?
K = Is it kind?
- Be succinct and keep to the topic or subject of discussion.
- Be polite and inclusive, use appropriate names and preferred pronouns.
- Be professional, positive and participate in the discussion.
- Respect people’s different views, opinions and ideas.
- Be aware of others’ cultural differences.
- Avoid arguments, put-downs, or comments that may degrade someone.
- Be open to alternative views and thoughts.
- Proofread your message before you send it.
- Avoid making statements that can cause harm, especially racists, sexists, or discriminatory comments.
- Avoid acronyms and abbreviations unless the terminology is widely known within your field.
- Avoid the use of sarcasm, in-jokes, wit and humour in public forums as it may confuse your audience.
- Avoid using CAPITALS, colour fonts or exclamation marks. It may come across assertive at best, rude or aggressive at worst.
- Avoid dominating the discussion, posting long essays on discussion boards as this may discourage other’s participation.
- Test your microphone and audio settings before the start of a Zoom session.
- It is generally good etiquette to enter a Zoom meeting with your microphone turned off (especially if you are late).
- Online unmute yourself if you have something to say or ask your lecturers/tutors to do so. This is important as your tutors may not always have host privileges to mute participants.
- It is generally a good idea to Zoom from a location with as little background noise as possible; for example, having the TV on in the background while you try to speak may make it difficult for others to hear you.
- It is generally good etiquette to have your camera on during a tutorial or lecturer. This will allow the teaching staff to engage with their class and see who they are talking to. However, talking to a Zoom session full of people with their cameras off can be discouraging.
- Dress casual but appropriately for the Zoom session.
- It is not always easy to have your camera on, especially if you are not in an ideal location. Therefore, it is good practice to message your lecturer/tutor at the beginning of the session and let them know you can’t have your camera on.
- Always display your first name and surname as per your enrolment. Nicknames are discouraged, especially when you do not have their camera on. However, for your lecturer/tutors to maintain a safe online teaching space, they must be able to identify their students.
- It is also an excellent inclusive practice to add your pronouns in brackets behind your display name.
- Your lecturer and tutors will let you know if a Zoom session will be recorded. These recordings are usually made so that they can be posted on the La Trobe LMS. If you feel uncomfortable being recorded, please inform your lecturer/tutor and turn off your camera.
- Students must not record the Zoom session without prior permission from their lecturer/tutors.
- Before speaking in class, it is good etiquette to use the Zoom ‘raise hand’ function.
- Always ask for permission from your lecturer/tutor before sharing your screen. Please ensure that your screen does not contain material that may cause offence, humiliation or embarrassment.
- Drinking while on Zoom is generally fine, but it is good practice to turn your camera off if you are eating. Also, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while in a Zoom session.
- It is a good idea to THINK before you post a comment in the chat function. Keep your comment brief, concise and on topic.
- Always use appropriate headings and subject lines when creating a new post.
- It is generally a good idea and polite behaviour to read all the existing posts before posting something, which may cause duplication. In addition, it is generally not a very good use of staff time to be answering the same question multiple times.
- Always re-read your email before you send them.
- Avoid sending multiple emails to lecturers/tutors in a short period. Students are welcome to send a follow-up email if they haven’t received a response from their lecturers/tutors within a reasonable timeframe. However, avoid sending multiple follow up emails.