Guide to Computing Etiquette at Rensselaer

It is the hope and intent of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute that providing high-quality computing facilities to its users will allow the Rensselaer community to maintain its access to all available local, national, and international information, as well as provide an environment which encourages both knowledge and the sharing of information.

However, Rensselaer also wishes to stress that each computer within the campus community acts as a tool which belongs to someone, be it an individual, an organization, or the Institute itself; therefore, it is each computer user's responsibility to be familiar with the particular conditions of use of, and to abide by, the computing provisions set forth by the Institute.

As a user of the computing facilities here at Rensselaer, you should be aware that, while you have specific rights associated with your computer use authorization, Rensselaer also expects that you will use that authorization in a professional and responsible manner.

Please refer all questions or problems to

Specifically, Rensselaer requests that you adhere to the following computer provisions:

  • Use your computer account for educational purposes only. Rensselaer computing facilities are not to be used for commercial purposes.
  • Keep your password confidential. It may be tempting to share your password with your best friend or class project team members, but remember that doing so puts you at risk. For example, anyone having access to your password may also use the Student Information System (SIS) to find out your class grades or credit card information, or run up large printings bills from your account.
  • Therefore, to avoid the chance of these things happening, change your password frequently, and use other means to share your files.

  • Give others a fair chance to use the resources. Remember, there are many other users on this campus who have as much right to the resources as you do. Therefore, be considerate of other users' computer needs, and avoid resource "hogging." Basically, remember that you may be in a position at some time when you would like to have access to a machine, and just think how you would feel if an inconsiderate user was "hogging" a machine you could use.
  • Be yourself. Specifically, use your own userid when sending electronic mail to others; trying to disguise your identity by using another person's userid could qualify as falsifying information and could therefore be grounds for disciplinary action.
  • Keep privates private. Currently, a number of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) sites exist which allow users to access and copy sexually explicit and other potentially offensive files to their home directories. Rensselaer, by right, cannot forbid users from obtaining these files. However, since it is nearly impossible to avoid seeing large images displayed on other users' computer screens, Rensselaer considers the display of such material within its labs to be public display, and therefore creates a hostile working environment which violates Rensselaer's policy regarding sexual harassment. In addition, the practice of publicly displaying sexually explicit or other similarly offensive material is a Class A misdemeanor under Penal Law 245.11. Therefore, we request that you view such material elsewhere to avoid offending others.
  • Exercise caution. Occasionally, computer users will leave temptingly attractive files lying around on the network; these programs, known as "trojan horses," may outwardly appear to have a legitimate and advertised purpose--such as letting you play a certain game--but remember that programs such as this may have been put there with malicious intent, and running them may unobtrusively cause some serious harm to your account, such as deleting all your files.
  • So, in short, be careful. If you happen to come across something on the network that looks tempting but which you're unsure of, don't run the risk of falling victim to a "trojan horse." Instead, report your findings to by e-mail to For immediate assistance, you can go to the Help Desk in the VCC.

  • Leave the chain mail to the Middle Ages. Chain letters may sound like a cool thing to send on the system, but in reality, they do little more than up take space on the system...and waste your time! So if you ever consider starting up an on-line chain letter, please...think twice. And if you ever receive a chain letter on the system, just ignore it. The system--and anyone else to whom you might have considered passing the letter on --will thank you for it.
  • Respect other sites' computing facilities. Remember, while Rensselaer allows you to connect to a host of other computing facilities, the computer users at other educational, commercial, and governmental sites--whether they be local, nation-wide, or world-wide--have as much right to reliable computing facilities and accurate information as you do here. Therefore, please do not misuse any other sites' facilities or attempt to modify any sites' system hardware or software.

A Reminder...

Rensselaer wishes to remind you that, while we will do everything we can to provide you with the best quality computing facilities, it is also your responsibility to ensure that your computing experience here at Rensselaer is a productive and enjoyable one.

If at any time, even after taking all the precautions that you can, you still feel that your rights as a computer user on this campus are being violated, or if you are aware of other computer users who are misusing or abusing the computer facilities, please report the problem to your system administrator, or to the appropriate Rensselaer official, such as the Dean of Students. The sooner the proper authorities become aware of these problems, the sooner we can investigate the incidents and remedy the situation.

Thank you for your cooperation...and happy computing!