Communicating in Forums

There are many different ways to communicate on-line now days from chat rooms, forums to e-mail, instant messaging, blogs and personal spaces. Some have clearly stated rules and some depend on unwritten codes of behaviour.


  • Welcome a member when they join a discussion or enter a chat room / forum and be helpful if they are trying to catch up on the debate.
  • Be courteous and considerate in what you write. Please refrain from harsh comments. Written words have the tendency to come across a bit harsher then when the same words would be spoken out loud. Different cultures or backgrounds can also result in different language nuances.
  • Only post relevant questions and/or answers. Keep your remarks on topic to ensure professionalism throughout the forums.
  • Use a clear title in your comments and answers. This will enable easy retrieval of specific topics afterwards (titles of comments are always readable) and will ease reading through discussions for your colleagues and yourself.
  • Be clear and concise in your written comments. Avoid general terms if possible. A lot of us are not native English speakers, which means some of our nuances can get lost in translation. Keeping it simple always helps.
  • Include arguments in your comments. Do not just disagree or agree with your colleague. Disagree or agree while adding well-founded arguments (facts or references rather then mere opinions) in order to give your colleague a better understanding of your train of thought.
  • Be tolerant with the comments you read. Do not feel threatened by the language that is used even if you feel the comment is offensive; ask the author what he or she meant specifically before jumping to conclusions.
  • Do not use capital letters unless for abbreviations. Capitals letters are considered shouting on the Internet.
  • Avoid language that uses abbreviations, for example writing ‘bcoz’ instead of ‘because’ as not all people will understand the short form. Be aware that ‘smileys’ or similar symbols :>) are not always recognised and may sound like ‘colon, greater than, right parentheses to a screen reader user.
  • In the event a rude or threatening message is addressed to you, do not respond. Inform the tutor (if he or she has not already seen it themselves). Be the wiser person and neglect the remark or mail.
  • Quote only that part of the comment which is necessary to better understand your reply on a comment. This enables your colleagues to quickly relate to what you are saying/answering in accordance to the previous comment.
  • If a discussion is not on topic, do not answer it. In case a discussion is off topic the tutor will post it/move it to the relevant discussion forum, or will simply delete it.