Are 1995's Internet Etiquette Rules Still Even Remotely Relevant?

By Liam Butler on at

Like most people, I enjoy spending my evenings reading twenty-year-old articles about the internet. One of my favourites is about 'netiquette'-- a list of internet politeness rules. They just didn't see Twitter coming.

Cast your minds back to 1995. Frank Bruno had become the world heavyweight champion, petrol cost 50.9p per litre, and Gangsta's Paradise had just changed the face of music forever.

Then there was the internet. It looked like this, and was mostly treated with bemused curiosity.

At the time, The Independent ran a collection of pieces called 'The Idiot's Guide to Cyberspace'. Part four warns fledgling netizens of a number of faux-pas that, if committed, would lead to a swift and brutal flaming.

Let's see if the internet of 2014 still adheres to the then-rules of netiquette, shall we?


1) "Make sure you are not asking a question that has been asked a zillion times before."

This rule hasn't stood the test of time. Nowadays, folks will often send a tweet as opposed to actually googling something themselves.


Here you go, fella! Glad to help.


To be fair to Kim, I've often found myself faced with the same dilemma. I've made a diagram to better illustrate this quandary:

2) "Do not advertise. You are allowed to tell other readers about something they may be interested in, but you must not promote your own product."

Self-promotion? On the internet? Well, I never!



Of course, I could never be accused of posting attention-grabbing tweets to peddle my wares.


But the obvious winner is Shia LaBoeuf, whose recent antics concluded with a caps-lock spam sesh that breaks rules three and four in one fell swoop...


3) "Do not flood several groups with the same message: This is called "spamming", after the Monty Python spam sketch."



4) "Do not use capital letters: this is the computer equivalent of shouting."

That's not true, Shia. I'll always have a soft spot for Even Stevens.

So there you have it. Turns out that the genteel rules of 1995 netiquette don't hold up very well in 2014. Set a reminder in your calendar for 2033, then come back here and marvel at how delightfully polite these tweets are in comparison to what you now see on a daily basis.

Liam is a displaced Yorkshireman living in London. He writes the blog Angry Flat Cap. It's unlikely that you've heard of it. Once, he was retweeted by The Guardian. He never misses an opportunity to inform people of this fact.

Top Image Credit: IndependentMusicNews