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Chapter 6. ETIQUETTE: Rules to Live By > Develop Your Ground Rules

Develop Your Ground Rules

How do you figure out how to behave in a public gathering place? In the physical world, you look at the furnishings and decorations of a place, the way people look and act, and the official roles they’re playing to assess what kind of situation you’re in. Even if you’re new in town, these cues help you to quickly figure out how to behave appropriately in a run-down neighborhood tavern, or an upscale downtown bar.

On the Web, it’s much harder to read a social situation. All AOL chat rooms, for instance, look identical (save for an unobtrusive title)—yet while one room might host a supportive chat for arthri-tis sufferers, another serves as a raucous hangout for forty-some-thing flirts, and still another functions as a place for kids to play word games. If you were to wander through all these chat rooms one evening, it would be challenging to figure out each room’s etiquette standards at a glance.


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