The term netizen is a portmanteau of the words Internet and citizen, as in a "citizen of the net" or "net citizen".[1][2][3] It describes a person[4] actively involved in online communities or the Internet in general.[5][6]

The term commonly also implies an interest and active engagement in improving the Internet, making it an intellectual and a social resource,[4] or its surrounding political structures, especially in regard to open access, net neutrality and free speech.[7] The term was widely adopted in the mid-1990s as a way to describe those who inhabit the new geography of the Internet.[8] Internet pioneer and author Michael F. Hauben is credited with coining and popularizing the term.[4][9][10][11][12]

Determining factorEdit

In general, any individual who has access to the Internet has the potential to be classified as a Netizen. In the 21st Century, this is made possible by the global connectivity of the Internet. People can physically be located in one country but connected most of the world via a global network.[11]

There is a clear distinction between Netizens and people who come online to use the Internet. A Netizen is described as an individual who actively seeks to contribute to the development of the Internet. Netizens are not individuals who go online for personal gain or profit, but instead actively seeks to the Internet apart of our world, and make it a better place.[13][11]

A term used to classify Internet users who do not actively contribute to the development of the Internet is "Lurkers". Lurkers cannot be classified as Netizens, as although they do not actively harm the Internet, they do not contribute either.[14][15][16]

In ChinaEdit

In Mandarin Chinese, the terms wǎngmín (simplified Chinese: 网民; traditional Chinese: 網民; Wade–Giles: wang3-min2, literally "netizen" or "net folks") and wǎngyǒu (simplified Chinese: 网友; traditional Chinese: 網友; Wade–Giles: wang3-you3, literally "net friend" or "net mate") are commonly used terms meaning "Internet users", and the English word netizen is used by mainland China-based English language media to translate both terms, resulting in the frequent appearance of that English word in media reporting about China, far more frequently than the use of the word in other contexts.[17][18]

The Netizen PrizeEdit

The international nonprofit organisation Reporters Without Borders awards an annual Netizen Prize in recognition to an Internet user, blogger, cyber-dissident, or group who has helped to promote freedom of expression on the Internet.[19][20][21] The organisation uses the term when describing the political repression of cyber-dissidents such as legal consequences of blogging in politically repressive environments.

See alsoEdit

  • Digital citizen – citizens (of the physical space) using the Internet as a tool in order to engage in society, politics, and government participation[22]
  • Netiquette – social conventions for online communities
  • Cyberspace – the new societal territory that is inhabited by Netizens
  • Active citizenship – the concept that citizens have certain roles and responsibilities to society and the environment and should actively participate
  • List of Internet pioneers – those who helped erect the theoretical and technological foundation of the Internet (instead of improving its content, utility or political aspects)
  • Participatory culture – a culture in which the public does not act merely as consumers and voters, but also as contributors, producers and active participants


  1. ^ Seese, Michael (2009). Scrappy Information Security. p. 130. ISBN 978-1600051326. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  2. ^ Hauben, Michael. "The Expanding Commonwealth of Learning: Printing and the Net". Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  3. ^ Hauben, Michael F. (November 24, 1995). "The Netizens and Community Networks - Presented at the Hypernetwork '95 Beppu Bay Conference". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c DeLoach, Amelia (September 1996). "What Does it Mean to be a Netizen?". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  5. ^ netizen,
  6. ^ The Net and Netizens by Michael Hauben, Columbia University.
  7. ^ What is netizen? definition
  8. ^ Thompson, Steven John (April 30, 2014). Global Issues and Ethical Considerations in Human Enhancement Technologies. p. 4. ISBN 978-1466660106. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  9. ^ Butler, Simon. "Michael F. Hauben". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  10. ^ Hauben, Ronda. "Internet PIONEER Michael Hauben". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  11. ^ a b c Horvath, John (July 27, 2001). "Death of a Netizen". Heise Online. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  12. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (June 30, 2001). "Michael Hauben, Netizen, dies". The Register. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  13. ^ Hauben, Michael; Hauben, Ronda (May 11, 1997). "Preface: What is a Netizen". Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet (PDF). pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-8186-7706-9.
  14. ^ DeLoach, Amelia (September 1996). "What is a Netizen?". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  15. ^ "The need for a Netizens Association". March 1996. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  16. ^ Hauben, Michael; Hauben, Ronda (November 1995). "What is a Netizen?". first monday. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
  17. ^ Brian Fung, "'Netizen': Why Is This Goofy-Sounding Word So Important in China?", The Atlantic, 11 October 2012
  18. ^ Matt Schiavenza, "Enough with the word "Netizen"", The Atlantic, 25 September 2013
  19. ^ "World Day Against Cyber-Censorship: new "Enemies of the Internet" list". March 11, 2011. Archived from the original on June 28, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  20. ^ "Netizen Prize 2012: nominees". February 27, 2012. Archived from the original on April 21, 2015. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  21. ^ Manea, Elham (November 5, 2014). "Reporters Without Borders award Raif Badawi the Netizen Prize for 2014". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  22. ^ Mossberger, Karen. "Digital Citizenship - The Internet, Society and Participation" by Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal. 23 November 2011. ISBN 978-0819456069

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit