Smile :-)

photo of John Michael Pierobon By: John Michael Pierobon

You are not fully dressed until you wear a smile on your face.

This article explains how to smile on the Internet, and also provides some basic tips on "netiquette". (Netiquette is Internet etiquette.)

In written communicaton there is no way to tell if one is shouting, sarcastic, humorous or serious. This can lead to some serious misinterpretations of electronic mail. So a couple of "de facto" standards, or conventions, have taken hold to overcome the fact that electronic mail has no voice inflection and lacks non-verbal cues.

By convention, using all capital letters indicates that one is SHOUTING!

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Capital letters are used for acronyms. LOL is an acronym for laughing out loud. TLA is a three-letter acronym for three-letter acronym.

That last sentence was suppose to be funny, and therefore it should have ended with a smile. So how does one smile on the Internet? Write out a colon for the eyes, a dash for the nose, and a closing parenthesis for the smile. Rotate the page ninety degrees, and you have the drawing of a smiling face.

Here are a few symbols to reflect different types of smiles.

:-) Your basic smile. This smile is used to inflect humor.
;-) Winky smile. User just made a flirtatious or sarcastic remark, perhaps a "please do not hit me for what I just said" smile.
:-( A frown. User did not like that last statement or is upset or depressed about something.
:-I Indifferent smile. Better than a frown but not quite as good as a happy smile.
(-: Left handed smile. User is left handed.
8-) Eye wear smile. User wears glasses.
:-{) Moustache smile. User has a moustache.
:-X Secret smile. User's lips are sealed.
:) Midget smile. Short hand for a smile, omitting the nose.

So smile. It looks good on you. :-)

John Michael Pierobon is an Internet consultant based in Fort Lauderdale.
John Michael may be reached by sending electronic mail to

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