Online Etiquette

With more Queen’s University classes, services, and activities moving online, the Student Conduct Office would like to remind everyone that the Student Code of Conduct may apply to interactions that occur through electronic media. We have developed the following tips for respectful and professional conduct online.

Tips for online etiquette

Share mindfully

Always take a moment to consider before posting. Does the content represent your online presence in a positive light? Potential employers and educational institutions may review your online posts as part of their application process. Treat every post like it will be publicly available permanently.

Edit for tone

Electronic communication lacks the nuance of tone and body language. Interpretation is left to the reader without the physical context clues of in-person communication. It is important to edit not only for grammar and punctuation but also for tone. Reread your message out loud or have someone review a draft. Take the time to ensure your message is clear and the tone is appropriate to avoid misinterpretation.

Professionalism via video

If you are participating in an activity with video, take a professional approach. Dress appropriately; wear an outfit that you would to an in-person class. Check your video before the activity. What is visible in the background? Make sure anything inappropriate is moved out of frame. For example, move any alcohol or cannabis out of view.

The in-person test

When communicating in-person, the feedback is almost immediate. We can see someone’s physical reaction, hear their tone of voice, and get a verbal response back. This feedback speed makes us more cautious about how we communicate and allows us to course-correct quicker. A good test for online communication is to ask yourself if this is something you would say in-person. If not, think twice about saying it online.

Be an online upstander

If you witness cyberbullying, there are actions you should take to prevent further harm. If someone you know is engaging in cyberbullying, talk to them about the impact of their actions. If someone you know is a target of cyberbullying, offer support and ask if they are interested in campus and community resources. Learn more on the Cyberbullying resource page.

Thoughtful communication

If you are feeling emotional and plan to connect with someone online, you may want to consider sending a voice note or video chatting. These formats allow for more physical context clues, which may help prevent misunderstandings. If a voice note or video chat is not appropriate, consider drafting your message and taking a moment before sending it. Give yourself time to process your emotions before communicating them.

If you would like a printable handout or alternative format of this information, please email