Online etiquette: 'How not to be a jerk'

For the “city that never sleeps,


As the “city that never sleeps,” is attracting more and more “sleepless” people, New York Magazine has published “The Urban Etiquette Handbook.”

The magazine describes New York City as:

home to almost a million more people than it was fifteen years ago. We’re literally on top of each other: We share wireless, cram into subways and cubicles…

To help New Yorkers cope, New York Magazine has published 75 rules for “getting along in an endlessly wired, ruthlessly crowded, sexually libertarian city,” or, “how not to be a jerk.” Among the etiquette guidelines, many tips on how to navigate the wired urban world with class:

Is it okay to use wireless if your neighbors don’t password-protect it?

Yes—free wireless is a karmic gift bestowed by the rental gods to make up for all the times you’ve experienced your neighbors’ sexual encounters, arguments, and guitar practice in startling sonic clarity, gotten roaches because you live in the same building as a restaurant, and sampled the tapestry of malodorousness that is the ethnic-food/cigarette-smoke/pet-by-product–scented apartment hallway. Your only obligation as a wireless sharer is to avoid massive bandwidth-hogging downloads.

Can you reject a Friendster, Facebook, or MySpace friend request from someone you know?

No. It’s not as though adding someone to your online social network costs anything: The only potential damage is to the perceived quality of your accumulated friends. And if you know someone who judges you based on your Friendster network, then, well...he’s not your real Internet friend anyway.

How do you end an exchange of witty, flirtatious e-mail banter?

The exchange of witty, flirtatious banter is admittedly the e-mail quagmire with the fewest number of obvious exit strategies. Nonetheless, it should be resolved like real-time witty, flirtatious banter: with one party either summoning the courage to ask for a date or ending the quasi relationship by means of unexplained unresponsiveness.

When does an e-mail exchange end?

At the office, acknowledging receipt of requested work or information is entirely appropriate and necessary, but acknowledging receipt of receipt-acknowledgment is superfluous.

When can you send a thank-you via e-mail?

A mass e-mail is actually preferable when thanking people who combined to put together a work project or totally rockin’ party, as it emphasizes the communal nature of the achievement and offers the opportunity for public praise. Everything else (e.g., weddings, gifts, anniversaries, job promotions or interviews, etc.) still goes on nice, high-fiber stationery or a store-bought card.