Is It OK to Poke You?

Once upon a time, before the Internet, calling after 9 p.m. was the most serious communication taboo. But with new technology comes new rules, and Facebook is no exception. Before your kids, co-workers or parents ask you "WTF?", read our guide to Facebook politesse.

The friend request: This tool lets you invite anyone on the site to become your friend. But don't go overboard. In the beginning, seek out your freshman-year roommate and high-school boyfriend. But get to know someone before pressing the request button. Is the woman you spent five minutes in line with at Wal-Mart truly one of your "friends"? If someone denies your request, sending another request is sure to annoy.

Photographs: Ideally, your profile picture clearly displays your face. And only yours. No need to cloud your image with friends, lovers or an homage to your favorite Nick@Nite star. This is Facebook, not fakebook, after all. When "tagging" others (attaching their names below the photos), refrain from posting anything people wouldn't have put up there themselves. You might want to showcase your best friend's bawdy bachelorette party, but if her boss clicks on your name, then your friend's the one in trouble.

The poke: Like friend requests, you're allowed to "poke" anyone (it shows up privately on that person's home page as a visual icon). But just because something is allowed doesn't mean it should be encouraged. With strangers, poking is the digital equivalent of eyeing someone across the room without working up the courage to say "hello." With friends, it's a quick way to remind them you exist.

Messages: Think e-mail, but even quicker and less formal. Use these to privately invite a group of friends to a party or banter about the embarrassing changes other friends have made to their profiles. No need to include a subject line or salutation. Refrain from sending spam or group advertisements.

The Wall: As the backbone of Facebook, this message board is where you can show others how clever, insightful and friendly you are. Like your profile, your Wall can be seen by hundreds. So don't share secrets. This is the best place to wish someone a happy birthday, and the worst place to be passive-aggressive.

Is It OK to Poke You? | News