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Netiquette and Emoticons

Q: Art and Peggy ask: We are new to computers and e-mail. Sometimes we get responses back from people that we don't understand. They tell us to "Stop Shouting" or use acronyms or series of characters (often with the colon) that we just don't understand. Help!

A. Welcome to the world of Internet e-mail etiquette, called Netiquette. Growing up, we all learned how to talk to people. We also learned to write letters in the proper way. Now that we communicate via e-mail so much we have to learn some of the shortcuts and manners.

Just because e-mail is easy to create and send does not mean you should ignore spelling, punctuation and other disciplines. After all, it is correspondence from you and therefore reflects back on you.

When someone tells you to "Stop Shouting" they mean that you are writing in all capital letters. NOTICE THAT THIS IS MUCH HARDER TO READ than this is, especially for more than a paragraph or two. There should be a CAPS LOCK key on your keyboard, which you have undoubtedly discovered. For the sake of your reader, don't just press it on and type everything in capital letters.

The computer world is full of acronyms and shortcuts. Most are frequently typed phrases that are readily recognized. By typing them instead of the whole phrase you save some time and effort - but if your recipient doesn't understand what they mean they are counterproductive. These are often used in chat rooms where typing speed is more critical than in e-mail.

Here are some examples of commonly used shortcuts and what they mean. Some you will recognize from everyday life.

  • FYI - For Your Information

  • BTW - By the way

  • AFAIK - As far as I know

  • IMO - In my opinion

  • IMHO - In my humble opinion

  • BRB - Be right back

  • IANAL - I am not a lawyer (usually followed by But…)

  • LOL - Laughing out loud

  • GD&R - Grinning, Ducking and running (made after a snide remark, pun, etc.)

  • TIA - Thanks in advance

  • WYSIWYG - What you see is what you get

  • TTFN - Ta ta for now

  • FAQ - Frequently asked questions

  • FWIW - For what it's worth

  • OTOH - On the other hand
And many dozens more.

The series of characters you see are called emoticons, which is a combination of emotion and icons. It is hard to express emotion in e-mail because people can't see your face and detect a grin, wink, nod, etc. Nor can they hear the inflection in your voice. Emoticons are often used to try and express these emotions.

They are created with characters from the keyboard that types letters from left to right. So tilt your head toward you left shoulder to see what they represent.

For example, the characters :-) can be interpreted as a colon, dash and parentheses but if you tilt your head to the left you could interpret that as a pair of eyes, a nose and a smile. So :-) after some words is meant to tell the reader that you are smiling. Same with ;-) which is a smile with a wink.

Here are a few samples of other emoticons:

:-D This is more a laugh than a smile
8-OWide eyed and open mouthed
B-)Person with glasses smiling

Give it a try - it's easy to create your own and bring some emotion to your messages. Have fun.

Answered by Tech Expert Dan Hanson

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