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The Internet is like any other crowded place: the main thoroughfare of a city, a subway car or the main session hall in parliament. However, netiquette, a term for the social code of network communication, is significantly different from the etiquette in parliaments, on the streets or in cars all over the world. In any public place, say, in Kyiv, Paris or Tokyo, besides etiquette there are also laws and on online forums the main law is their etiquette. In all forums there is a general rule: “Log off if you don’t like it". An option for mail addressees is: “Unsubscribe and do not read, if you do not like it”. Typically, only those who do not know or understand the old proverb “When in Rome do as the Romans do” are told when to log off.
In Ukrainian forums you will find much less obscene expressions than in the U.S. forum. Forum administrators and owners of web-pages usually announce bans on the use of expletives and the worst offenders are banned access to such websites. Of course, literary clubs and other hangouts for cultural elites are guided, first and foremost, by the sense of beauty. For this reason, they prefer using warning announcements of advertising nature, such as: “Attention! Obscene words”!
At the same time, internal political censorship is much rarer on UAnet than on RUnet. In its report Freedom on the Net 2012 the international organization Freedom House ranked Ukraine in 12th place out of 47 countries surveyed. Estonia, the U.S and Germany were ranked in the top 3, while Russia was ranked 30th. Iran, Cuba and China were at the bottom of the ladder in these ratings. Noting that “the popularity of social networks is rapidly growing” in Ukraine, Freedom House pointed to another Ukrainian trend: “Political parties and the government began using the Internet as another instrument in political rivalry, using both legitimate forms of communication, such as profiles in social networks and blogs, and manipulative techniques, such as trolling”. As for trolling, the report goes on saying that "the majority of political analysts do not consider this an effective political strategy because users quickly recognize trolls and do not take their comments seriously”.
Trolling, which is the placement of provocative texts and comments is one of the worst violations of netiquette. Therefore, when trolls are hired by political parties their activity is fraught with a boomerang effect, which means it ruins the images of such parties. As an example, one may recall the image-making and electoral losses of Crimean PoR members over the past year due to the fact that prior to the parliamentary election nearly 100 trolls suddenly tried to make friends with residents of the region via social networks and posted offensive materials about the rivals of the PoR on their web pages.
Be that as it may, it was construction companies that threw the most striking boomerangs over the past two years. For example, last May the Kominternivskiy District Court in the Odesa Oblast fined three activists, who shared their opinions about a local developer in the forum of the Social Site of Fontanka Village, to the tune of UAH 15,000. Fontanka is a suburb near Odesa, where the developer rented 33 hectares of coastal land in the village for 49 years. According to the rules of netiquette, the developer had the right to respond in the forum. The company filed a libel lawsuit – and immediately earned an odious reputation among Odesa Internet users. Odesa Oblast Court of Appeals overruled the decision of the district court in October and this past March the Kyiv Supreme Specialized Court did not satisfy the plaintiff´s appeal. Two months later, on May 21, the Dniprovskiy District Court in Kyiv ordered to collect nearly UAH 14.165 mn from the defendant – the creator of the web-site of one of the new buildings – to the benefit of the plaintiff – the company selling apartments in that building. On the web-site residents of the building discussed their utility problems and other troubles of everyday life. The hearing of the defendant´s appeal is scheduled for August 20. However, even if the ruling of the district court retains its force, it is unlikely to change the bad reputation that the plaintiff created among potential buyers that go online.
Netiquette, of course, regulates the language and the use of Caps Lock (press this key only as a last resort when you really need to stress your point or vociferously make a statement). Of course, netiquette also regulates behavior on the worldwide web: no trolling, no flooding (i.e. no blabbering), no stale jokes (no repeating of information that everyone has known for long), no posing of inane questions (instead, use search engines) and no encroaching on the time of other users.
In any case, the first thing that regulates netiquette is users’ attitudes towards the Internet: this should be appreciated as an inalienable right and personal freedom so that any official or big-shot business owner does not forget: "It´s the Internet, baby".Printable version