Avoiding Netquarels

I wrote a long paper on Ambiguity, Superficiality and Quarrels on the Net

Here’s the intro:

Inequality in society continues or is even aggravated on the net. The fact that the cost of the equipment required to set up and access computer networks creates “haves” and “have nots” advantages certain groups of Internet users over others. (Herring, 2001, p. 12). Some social groups do not get a hearing in society because their habitual forms of discourse are not privileged, not recognised as legitimate or even “sensible” by those who control the media and exercise power. Things are not different on the Internet. Both in the real world and on the Net a major task of unprivileged groups is to break through a credibility barrier so that their voice and their arguments can be heard.


Since Computer Mediated Communication inherits power asymmetries from the larger historical, economic and social context power conflicts cannot be avoided. But a completely open network will soon become useless when opposing groups opposing in society meet each other on the net. While empowerment is the main concern when people meet, relentless disputes covered by the anonymity of the Internet will paralyze any discourse very soon.

There are different solutions to solve this problem, but this isn’t the main concern of this review because even if this problem is solved a lot of traps remain. Net quarrels have a higher frequency than quarrels in face to face communication.  In this text I will try to track down the origin of these quarrels. I think this might be useful. First I will compare Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) with Face To Face (FTF) communication thus framing the problem. Second I will line out a pragmatic view on language on the net. This said I will describe in detail five important differences between CMC and FTF that may cause problems. Concluding I will propose some thumb rules that might help making CMC relevant, also stating that CMC is useless without FTF, something we always should bare in mind.


At the end of the paper I formulated 10 rules of thumb to write relevant email

(1) Review what you received
(2) Revise your answer
(3) Use argumentive discourse, avoid hegemonic discourse
(4) Be consistent
(5) Frame your answer
(6) Use an elaborated code
(7)Watch Implications
(8) Pretend it’s Face-to-Face and be aware whom you’re talking to
(9) Don’t abuse CC and other powerfull features of email, use them thoughtfully
(10) Have an open mind

You can download the complete paper in PDF at



One thought on “Avoiding Netquarels

  1. thanks! i’ve posted my blog yesterday, so i did’t have time to finish it! the language was serbian,but it’s very similar to croatian (it was the same language a few years ago, serbo-croatian)!

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