Ethical Suggestions

The following ethical suggestions outline appropriate computer use with regard to behaving responsibly. Further ethical suggestions may be found in the Additional Ethical Resources section at the bottom of this page.


  • Do respect the privacy rights of others by immediately redirecting and deleting email for which you are not the intended recipient.
  • Do log off users who forget to log off from campus computers. 
  • Do be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you receive. Jokes and sarcastic comments may be appropriate between friends, but who knows how many people your message will be forwarded to.
  • Do assume the best intentions when reading emails. Remember that electronic forms of communication lack tone of voice, facial expressions and hand gestures. Assuming that the author had friendly intentions will help you avoid unproductive arguments.
  • Do add tone of voice to your emails with the use of emoticons. Do not rely solely on emoticons; they only enhance the understanding of content, not add value to it.
  • Do realize that you are not the owner of the email you send. Email is the property of its current holder whether that is your employer, friend, or network administrator.
  • Do walk lightly when writing email. If an email message upsets you, distance yourself from it for a while and then respond with a clear head.
  • Do include informative subject lines, headers and/or footers to your emails. Be sure to include your name, position (if business related), and contact information.  For more information on what headers and footers should include, visit Business Netiquette International.
  • Do use limited formatting on your emails. Adding color and different sizes of fonts may obscure and/or prevent your message from being read. Ensure that your mail messages will be received by omitting specialty formatting.


  • Don't use computers and/or other electronic devises to break the law or University policy.
  • Don't use Missouri State campus resources for commercial purposes.
  • Don't attempt to crash or hack network systems. Such attempts will almost certainly lead to expulsion from the University and criminal prosecution.
  • Don't attempt to explore restricted areas or masquerade as network authorities.
  • Don't attempt to gain access to others' accounts, passwords, or information.
  • Don't use computer resources to scam, harass, or annoy other computer users.
  • Don't use materials unless you have specific authorization for their use.
  • Don't use copyrighted software or information without the expressed consent of the copyright owner. An in-depth look at the legal as well as ethical uses of software is provided by EDUCOM and ADAPSO.  Be aware that software companies have the ability to audit computers to check for license fraud.
  • Don't plagiarize others' ideas by passing them off as your own.
  • Don't install personal software on Missouri State computers.
  • Don't use resource intensive programs like Napster, Morpheus, Kazaa and Bonzi Buddy on campus computers or networks. Such programs can slow down computer resources for everyone.
  • Don't assume the identity of others while online or sending emails.
  • Don't send or forward mass emails to individuals whom have not communicated an interest in receiving the mail message, regardless of the original author's claim of the need to do so.
  • Don't alter the wording of emails you are forwarding. Even slight changes in punctuation or spelling may cause the original author's intent to be misinterpreted.
  • Don't assume that risqué comments or materials will only be forwarded to people who appreciate them. The nature of email, namely the ease with which it is forwarded and copied, prevents everyone from knowing who may or may not receive a mail message on the 4th, 5th or 6th time it is forwarded.
  • Don't think of email as private and temporary. Electronic messages are as permanent as other written documents and only as private as a postcard, which may be read by anyone walking past your mailbox.

Additional Ethical Resources

  • Core Rules of Netiquette - Initially presented in outline form, this hosted site, expands to give the hows and whys of internet Ethics.
  • Online Netiquette Quiz - Feeling like a netiquette expert?  Take this online quiz to test your wits and see how you measure up to the professionals.
  • Business Netiquette International - A concise guide on company to company email and proper internet computing within the international business arena.