Hunters & Browsers
Push vs. Pull
Reach & Frequency
This is the most important rule, so engrave it upon your heart:
You are not communicating with a computer; you are communicating with real people. Be patient with them.
As a business person, your style reflects back on your business. Remain businesslike, don't engage in "flame wars" where you trade insults with others and maintain your sense of humor.
There are some special rules that apply to commerce on the Internet. The most important one is a prohibition against spamming. Spamming originally meant sending off-topic messages to multiple newsgroups. Example: sending an ad or a press release to a hundred (or a thousand) newsgroups advertising your widgets. Advertising is prohibited in most newsgroups and if you persist in doing it you could have your Internet access revoked.
You can, however, join appropriate newsgroups and subtley weave your marketing message into the conversational threads. For example, join the widget newsgroup and if someone complains that they can't find a reliable source of purple left-handed widgets you are within the bounds of netiquette to pipe in and mention that you make them. Don't be too pushy.
Spamming can also refer to unsolicited commercial e-mail -- junk mail. Remember that the Internet is a pull system, where the customer requests information, rather than a push system, where you send it to them without being asked. Besides being offesnive, spam mail is also illegal. If you persist in spamming, people will take offense and will make life difficult for you. They might complain to your ISP to the point where you lose your account. They could flood your mailbox with thousands of email messages (called letter bombing.)
A wise person once suggested that you treat the Internet like a foreign culture and study it for a month with an anthropologist's eye before participating. If a month seems like too long, take two months.
Places to learn more about Netiquette
The Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette
Acceptable and Unacceptable Uses of the
Roadmap 96: Netiquette By Patrick Crispin, University of Alabama professor.
Next Section: Legal Blunders
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