Netiquette refers to the generally accepted rules of behavior for using the Internet. By following Netiquette guidelines, users help to make the Internet a civil place to communicate and share ideas. AAR would not and could not exist without you and your ideas, beliefs, and passions. In general, the following are useful guidelines in a glance for conducting yourself anywhere on the ‘Net.
  • Do the “right thing,” and use your manners, and treat others with the same respect you’d like in return.
  • Maintain perspective – discussing romance novels is not the same as offering proposals for world peace or cures for cancer.
  • Remember the human – the person who reads your post can’t see your face or hear your voice and can easily misinterpret what you are trying to convey. And while emoticons seems silly, they can temper the tone of posts to prevent miscues.
  • Never post out of anger, and if someone else does, ignore it.
  • Flame wars make everyone uncomfortable – bystanders in particular – and stifle discussion. It’s better to take a day or two off than to add fuel to the fire.
  • Always remind yourself: Those are real people out there with the same feelings I have.
  • Always ask yourself: Would I say this to someone’s face? If the answer is no, reread, rewrite, or consider not posting at all, or until some time has passed.
  • Be patient. Not everyone has the same level of knowledge about posting. Consider cutting newbies some slack.
  • Do an occasional spot check: Am I holding myself back too much in fear of looking silly or “causing trouble?” On the flip side, in my enthusiasm for sharing ideas, am I becoming a forum/list hog?
  • Learn the dynamics of a forum or list before jumping in. There are ways to share your thoughts that encourage discussion and ways that discourage discussion and create bad feelings.
  • Learn the parameters of a forum or list so that you can stay on topic.
  • If you share a first name with another poster (or AAR staffer), we hope you will add a last initial to your posts in order to cut down possible confusion.
  • Before hitting the “post” or “send” button, remind yourself that your comments may be read by thousands of people. Are you sure you want to post/send, or would it best be shared with a smaller group of people?
  • Remember the adage: “You are not the center of cyberspace.” This is superflous to most readers but when you’re deeply involved, it’s easy to forget that other people have different ideas and concerns. What you’re passionate about may not be important to someone else, or they may be passionate about your concern, only in reverse. (Hey, one of the reasons I started AAR was because I have a big mouth. It takes me a lot of self-control on a daily basis not to get into every single discussion that interests me; too much of a good thing is still too much. <g> )

You will eventually post something bone-headed that will come back and bite you on the butt. It’s embarrassing and unpleasant and can feel awful, but if you remember these guidelines at a glance, you’ll minimize this.

While the above guidelines apply all over the Internet, there are some AAR-specific Netiquette guidelines as well:

  • Staying on topic is important on both our forums and discussion lists. When in doubt, refer to the introduction accompanying each forum and the guidelines that accompany both our discussion lists.
  • Do not talk about the forums on the forums themselves. This is a site about the discussion of books and those who read them. Once the discussion stops being about something, and starts being about the site and each other, it’s very easy for the forums to slide into irrelevance.
  • While it may not be apparent why you are asked to post about Book X on this forum and Book Y on that forum, we have our reasons – both administrative and monetary.
  • We are believers in Internet openess, so readers, feel free to link to pertinent articles elsewhere, but web owners and bloggers, unless you are an author or part of a writer’s group – in which case we encourage you to take advantage of our Writer’s News forum – we think it’s bad form to grow your site at the expense of ours. Please remember that AAR is your host; posts on our forums that poach our readers for your website are not appropriate. We liken it to going to someone’s house for a dinner party and inviting the other guests to leave the party for your house. (Similarly, it’s considered bad form to “poach” email addresses from our forums or lists to “grow” other sites and/or lists.)

While we want AAR to become as important to you as it is to those of us who work here, we want you to have a life away from your computer screen. If you feel you are getting too involved in a topic or spending all your free time at the site, as much as we love having you, we encourage you to spend some of that time with your friends, families, pets, and yes, books. Take a walk, play a game. . .chill. We’ll be here when you get back. If you feel really strongly about something, you may want to write about it for a future ATBF article so that it’s online in perpetuity.

On the flip side, if you come to AAR only to lurk, we don’t think you’re getting everything out of the site that you could, and you are limiting the benefit others may have to your ideas and experiences. Please consider coming out to play with us – it’s loads of fun and doesn’t hurt a bit! One of the best things that has come out of AAR for me has been my new friendships with readers and authors all over the world. If you stay in the shadows, you may be missing out on some terrific relationships.

If you have questions or concerns that pertain to the administration of AAR, feel free to email our ombudswoman, Lynn Spencer, at If you have a particular question or issue about a review that is not yet online, please mail the managing editor.