I've been asked to participate in a panel presentation on "Online Etiquette" at a nearby college, and I need help deciding whether I should avoid this potential train wreck altogether, or try to turn it into something actually useful for any students attending.
This started when I was editing an announcement that went along the lines of, "Become an online etiquette expert and spread the word about good manners online. You can be a responsible digital citizen!" Along with my grammar edits, I sent a note saying that the fastest way to be bullied online is to tell other people how to conduct themselves. The ensuing conversation made it clear that we had pretty different views on all this internet business.
So, what to do? As far as I can tell, the panel will be mostly about English grammar, but it may touch on "how to behave" topics, which I would really like to avoid. If I don't attend, it seems the panel will just be a sort of abstinence-style lecture on "never misspell, emoticons are the devil, always use punctuation."
My personal belief is that people are smart enough to speak multiple "languages" online, and the only problem is when those languages blend together, i.e. when you use emoticons and all-caps in a business e-mail. Similar to how you talk to your mom, your friend, and your boss differently, electronic communication can differ based on who you're messaging (this is called "Code-Switching" for anyone interested in looking up articles).
Despite some of the shit that goes down on this site, I still consider Giant Bomb to be one of the best communities on the internet, so I'd really appreciate any input. I'm not exactly Ms. Manners when it comes to online interaction, and I certainly don't follow some strict grammar guidelines in everything I type, but I think both of those are OK as long as I keep the business stuff professional don't post something I might regret later. That's the point I would like to get across I guess. I just don't know if that's a message I can actually convey in a panel setting.
Am I stupid for even considering it? What do you think about grammar in instant messages to friends versus memos to clients? What are some of your personal guidelines for posting on forums or e-mailing someone? I would guess the majority of people attending would be English-as-a-second-language students and older continuing education students without as much experience online.