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g2gp 17-01-2009
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Creating and Using Virtual Reality: a Guide for the Arts and Humanities #

Virtual Reality Case Study Library #

'Netiquette' in Collaborative Virtual Environments#

Standards of behaviour in Collaborative Virtual Environments may differ depending on what area of virtual space you're visiting, what your means of expression are, and if you are interacting with other 'real' people or simply leaving your traces in the virtual world. However, it can be said that these standards are not lower than in real life, and if you encounter an ethical dilemma in cyberspace, consult the code you would follow in real life.

Below are some guidelines for 'how to behave' in an on-line community:

  • Avoid misunderstandings and always respect the human on the other end of the line. In CVEs, you probably lack in some or most of the communication means that are available in real-life conversations, such as facial expressions or gestures – channels that simplify and enrich face-to-face communication. Due to the limited set of channels in the virtual world, it is easy to misinterpret the messages of others, or to be misinterpreted
  • However, there is nothing you can say that won't offend somebody! When being misunderstood, take the blame on yourself for being unclear, apologise, and say what you meant more clearly
  • Be careful when using sarcasm and humour. Without face-to-face communications your joke may be viewed as criticism
  • Be pleasant and polite. Don't use offensive language, and don't be confrontational for the sake of confrontation
  • Know where you are in the virtual community. What's perfectly fine in one CVE can be pretty rude in another. When you enter a domain of cyberspace that's new to you, take a look around. Spend a while listening to the chat and get a sense of how the people who are already there act before you participate
  • Keep in mind that because web-based CVEs are often globally accessible, a world can have inhabitants from many countries. Don't assume that they will understand a reference to TV, movies, pop culture, or current events in your country. Also, they might not understand geographical references that are local or national. If you must use them, explain them
  • When being engaged in a serious conversation in an interactive CVE, don't expect instant responses to all your questions and contributions. And don't assume that all other inhabitants will agree with, or care about, your passionate arguments. It's easy to forget that other people have concerns other than yours
  • Be aware that your actions can take up other people's bandwidth and rendering time. Use gestures and animations of your avatar appropriately. Bear performance in mind when designing your own avatar.

And finally, be forgiving of other people's mistakes. When someone makes a mistake, whether it's a spelling error or a stupid question or an unnecessarily long answer, be kind about it and think twice before reacting. Having good manners yourself doesn't give you licence to correct everyone else.

Useful Netiquette links to follow up: