Category:      Search FAQ:          
Category
Online Classes   
Date Updated
2007-10-31 15:20:55   

Question   
How do I avoid offending other people in an online class?   
Answer   
Remember that most face-to-face communications use a number of non-verbal cues (i.e. gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions) to tell the audience that what you say is not necessarily what you mean. These cues tend to get lost in online conversations, and a remark which you assume will appear to everyone else as sarcastic or ironic may actually be interpreted as sincere.

Some people use written symbols, for example, the smiley :-) which has to be read sideways, or
abbreviations (for example, gr = grin), but your readers may not know the conventional meaning of these symbols, and the symbols may still not communicate the subtlety you intend. So in online communications (chat room sessions, e-mail, bulletin board postings), play it safe and say directly what you mean. Being direct, however, doesn't give you an excuse for being offensive.

Remember that your readers may have strong personal, religious, ethnic, gender, age, and other beliefs/identities that are very important for them, and that a joke or remark you consider appropriate among friends may cause emotional pain for people you don't know so well.

When in doubt, ask your instructor or rephrase your post.