Make friends online

Without the barrier of geographical location chatting online means you can meet all sorts of people. But online relationships can be just as complicated as offline ones, we explain the netiquette so that you can keep it friendly.

Girl and boy on a laptop

They clearly forgot that you can't get Wifi in the park.

Lurk before you leap

It is often worth browsing/lurking on the boards for a while before you join, to get a feel for the place and see what’s the best way to act. This helps avoid being at the receiving end of abuse after just one post!

Introduce yourself

When joining a new community it is usual to say hello before posting away. Some boards have Introductions forums, like The Mix’s, where you can tell the other users a little about yourself. Say roughly where you are from, how old you are, and what your interests are. For example:

cymruangel: “Hi all. My name’s Hannah and I’m from South Wales (Swansea). I’m 18, a well-balanced [if often indecisive] Libran. I’ve just finished 6th form coll so off to uni in the autumn, provided I get my grades of course – not looking forward to August 15th!

Interests – well it all depends on my mood! but seriously – I’m a musician and singer, I also help out in a disabled youth club (I’m such a good girl!!) ummmmmm… well if you want to know anything else just ask!! love Hannah.”

Play nice

Make yourself at home. Chat to people as you would in real life, don’t get too offended by jokes, and don’t type with the CAPS LOCK ON as it looks like you are SHOUTING. Don’t flood the board by posting loads of new threads at once, but don’t be scared to join in conversations.

Be friendly and polite and you should get the same response back (from most people). Being arrogant, rude or abusive will only lead to alienation and possibly being banned from using the boards. If unsure whether you’re acting in line, ask yourself whether you would say it to the person’s face. If the answer’s no, either rephrase it or don’t post it at all.

What should I talk about?

Anything and everything but don’t ask anything too personal of others unless you are willing to offer up your own personal answers/ reasons first.

Don’t rush

Online communities are odd in that you get complete strangers telling you intimate details of their lives immediately. If you were in the street and this happened, you’d feel uncomfortable, however here it is par for the course.

By their very nature, online friendships tend to develop at an accelerated pace, so try not to get too attached to quickly. This way you can avoid a nasty fall if your new mate gets bored of you and finds someone new to play with.

One on one

Once people have got to know you a bit on the boards, you may wish to chat one to one, and you can do this in several ways.

PMs: A lot of boards have private messaging, where threads are only started and replied to by the two of you and no-one else can view the conversations. This is quite a safe way to chat as there is the option to have an ignore list/ deny receipt if the desire to be mates is not mutual.

Email: This is an easy way of contact, however you may wait days/ weeks before getting a response and it is easy to come up with excuses for not responding.

Instant chat: Once installed, this is a quick and easy way to chat with one or more of your newfound mates. It also lets you know when they are online, so you don’t miss them. However it can lead to obsessive behaviour, verging on stalking. Constantly being barraged with messages when you are working/ busy can be really annoying, and feel invasive. If you want to keep them at arm’s length for a while longer, don’t give out your messenger address.

A real life meeting?

Don’t rush into meeting up in the flesh. Get to know each other over the web, email each other a few times or instant chat, and eventually start talking over the phone before you meet. If you still want to meet them after some time has passed, then follow The Mix’s safety guide. Make sure you meet in a public place during daylight hours, e.g. afternoon coffee or a quick lunchtime drink and try to take someone with you, arrange a signal beforehand so that if you don’t want to stay, you can make your excuses and leave safely. Be careful of dangers like date rape, and don’t leave your stuff unattended.


Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of young people on laptop by Shutterstock.