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Ethics and rules for the correct use of network services Revision of Naming Authority Italiana

Within the community of network service users, especially Internet users and, in particular, inside the “news” service Usenet, a number of “traditions” and “principles of correct behaviour” have been developed with time: all these rules are generally known as “netiquette”. Keeping in mind that whoever provides your network access (provider, public institution or agency, employer, etc.) can also control even more precisely the users’ duties, we summarise in this document the fundamental principles of “netiquette”, reminding everybody that these rules are mandatory.

  1. When you join a new newsgroup or a new electronic mail distribution list, read the messages posted there for at least two weeks before starting to send your own around the world: in this way you will understand the topics of the discussion and the methods to be used in such an environment.
  2. If you send a message, be brief and concise, both in the subject field as well as in the message itself. Always use the “subject” field to specify the topic. If using the “signature” file, please keep it short.
  3. Do not post or send messages to the target newsgroup or distribution list which deviate from the topic in question.
  4. Whenever possible, avoid broadcasting your message to many mailing lists (or newsgroups) at a time. There is usually only one specific mailing list representing the correct target of your message and which contains all interested users in that particular topic.
  5. If you answer a message, quote only the relevant sections of the original message in order to facilitate understanding by users who did not read it, and avoid systematically reposting the entire original text.
  6. Do not engage in “opinion wars” on the network through the sending of messages and replies: if you have personal discussions, solve them via private electronic mail correspondence with the interested parties.
  7. Never publish the content of electronic mail messages without the explicit permission of the author.
  8. Do not post stupid messages or take sides to support somebody’s opinion within an ongoing discussion. Always read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) relating to the discussion topic before sending new questions.
  9. Never send advertising or commercial promotion messages or any other unsolicited message via electronic mail, unless explicitly requested by the recipient.
  10. Be tolerant with users who makes syntactical or grammar errors when posting messages. Users posting messages must in any case improve their knowledge of the language, in order to be understood by the whole community.

Furthermore, to the previously mentioned rules we must add the following criteria based on common sense logic:

  1. The network is used as a major work tool by many users. They do not have time to read jokes, useless or personal messages which are not of general interest.
  2. Any activity which heavily affects network traffic, such as bulk data transfers, reduces the overall network performance. Users should thus perform these operations outside peak network time (at night for example), taking into account the different time zones.
  3. On the network a number of file server sites exists, containing up-to-date copies of relevant documentation, software and other objects made available via network. Users must ask in advance which is the most convenient accessible server node for their use. If a file is made available on this server, or locally, there is no reason to load it again via the network, wasting network bandwidth and waiting much longer for the file transfer to be effected.
  4. The software made available on network servers can be protected by copyrights and/or other restrictions on its use. Users must always read carefully any accompanying documentation before using, modifying or redistributing this software in any shape or form.
  5. Incorrect behaviour of an explicit illegal nature by users, such as:
    • violating the security of network databases and hosts;
    • violating other users’ privacy, reading or intercepting their electronic mail messages;
    • compromising the correct performance of the network and of any equipment which constitutes its service with programmes (virus, trojan horses, etc.) and other hacking tools;
    are explicit criminal violations and, as such, are punishable by current laws.

For more detailed information on the principles stated above, please refer to the documents RFC1855 Netiquette Guidelines, and to RFC2635 A Set of Guidelines for Mass Unsolicited Mailings and Postings,