- Don't cheat
Does it need to be said? Don't use mods and hacks that give you an unfair advantage over other players. Even passive cheats, such as changing models so that on your client enemies appear more distinctive, is cheating. On almost any server, if you are caught cheating, you will be banned permanently. Cheating doesn't prove anything other than your ability to cheat; it will impress no one, and it will do nothing for your skills. Even admitting to cheating is nearly as bad as being caught cheating -- admins are unlikely to take your word for it in that you have a cheat installed, but aren't cheating now.
Don't cheat. Just don't do it.
- Don't deliberately injure your own teammates (friendly fire)
In team games where friendly fire is on, it seems obvious that you should try to not kill your own teammates. However, players do it anyway, sometimes out of frustration, but usually with the intent of disrupting a game. Needless to say, this is considered extremely bad behavior and will get you kicked and banned from most servers. (Some games, such as Counter-Strike, even have builtin punishment for team killing -- you have to sit out the next round.) Accidental friendly fire, just as in real combat, is an unfortunate fact of life -- even the best players accidentally shoot at or kill their own teammates. It shouldn't happen often, though, and never when you're not embroiled in combat. If someone on your team is team killing, publicly point out their behavior and call a vote to kick him. Even retaliating against team killers is unwise; it makes it unclear to the rest of the players on the server who's actually instigating the misbehavior. Team killing applies to all forms of damage; using the map to hurt your own teammates (by, say, flooding the spawn point with water) is just as bad as directly hurting your own teammates with gunfire.
Deliberately hurting your own teammates in a team-based game is the height of missing the point.
- Keep the posturing and insults under control
Hey, first person shooters are competitive games; there's nothing wrong with egging on your opponents a little -- that's all a part of the competition. But a player who constantly harangues, belittles, and insults other players isn't going to be appreciated, winner or not. Hurling childish insults at someone else only serves to reduce the enjoyment of the game for everyone. Choosing deliberately offensive player names is also unwise.
There's nothing wrong with a healthy ribbing, but it can get out of hand. Keep the level hostility down.
- Don't whine when you lose or gloat when you win
It's a game. You win some, you lose some. Even the best players have bad days, and even the worst players get lucky sometimes. When losing, there's no point in blaming your enemies. When winning, there's not much point in insulting your opponents. It's customary in first person shooters to say "gg" ("good game") at the end of a game -- whether or not you did well or poorly. You don't have to shower your victor with praise, but it certainly doesn't do any good to hurl insults at him. Complaining about low- or high-ping players on an unrestricted server won't help, either.
No one likes a sore loser. But then, no one likes an ungraceful winner, either.
- Obey the house rules of the server you're on
Most servers have a set of "house rules," which are often displayed in a subtitle or the message of the day. Always respect these rules; after all, it's not your server. These rules might include anything such as pistols only, to no camping, to no team killing (a common rule), etc. If you don't think you can play by the rules or don't agree with them, find another server; there are plenty of fish in the sea. If you deliberately violate rules, you're likely to find yourself kicked and banned if an admin is around.
Follow the server's house rules. It's someone else's server, after all, not yours.
- Respect the admins
The admins are the ones in charge of the server you're using. Their word is final -- even if you know they're wrong. Even capricious or cruel admins are entitled -- it's their hardware, their bandwidth, their time and money. Respecting the people with the power to kick and ban you from a server you presumably enjoy using doesn't mean sucking up, it just means not deliberately or continually antagonizing them. Respect your admin and he or she will respect you.
Even the most gracious admin will not appreciate being called named or being asked every ten seconds to change the map.
- Don't flood, spam, or advertise
Deliberately flooding or spamming involves doing things that generate either chat messages or console output that tend to annoy others. Setting up key bindings that allow you to chat with your team effectively is extremely effective, but constantly hitting that key to bug everyone else on the server is extremely annoying. "Spamming" is a term that originally applied to Usenet posts, but has been generalized to email and all other methods of activity -- in this context, it means doing something over and over again in a manner that is annoying or disruptive. That includes endlessly buying and throwing grenades in Counter-Strike, repeatedly calling votes to change maps or kick people even after they have been voted down, and just typing the same thing over and over again. Lastly, people playing on the server don't care about your homepage, or clan site, or that your clan is recruiting. A small identification string after the game is over is acceptable, but repeatedly hitting your ID bind during the game is extremely annoying.
Doing any activity repetitively in order to be annoying or disruptive is going to be unappreciated by your fellow players.
- Don't hold up games by going AFK or camping poorly (survivor-style)
In survivor-style games, play is divided into rounds, and if someone is not playing properly, they will hold up the game (forcing the round to end in a timeout). Players don't like this -- they have no problem waiting when people are making a concerted effort to play, but they don't like waiting for no reason. Going away from your keyboard for extended periods is extremely rude, as it forces everyone to wait on you -- and you may not be back for several rounds. Similarly, camping on the offensive team, or even camping poorly on either team, is going to hold up the game -- if you're camping in a place where no one is likely to wander by, you're just wasting everyone's time.
Don't make your fellow players wait on you -- they're here to play, just like you are, not sit while others waste their time.
- Pay attention to the right form of score
Every player likes to track their progress in a game, and all first person shooters include ingame facilities for indicating their status relative to other players. But depending on the game, there are very different indicators that are relevant. In all games, there is a measure of the number of kills, or frags, so far this game. But that's not the whole story, and the whole story depends on what type of game you're playing.
- Scoring in deathmatch-style games
What counts in deathmatch-style games is killing, killing, killing. But your score (in frags) is not what counts -- it's the ratio of your score to the time you've been playing; that is, the number of frags you have racked up per minute (or hour). The higher, the better. If player A has 30 frags in 30 minutes, but player B has 20 frags in only 5 minutes, even though player A has more frags in total, it's obvious that player B is doing much better.
- Scoring in survivor-style games
In survivor-style games, you play in rounds until you're killed, at which point you have to wait until the next round. Rounds can vary greatly in time, but rounds have a timeout after which they end even if neither team has completed their objectives. As you can probably tell, kills per minute doesn't tell you very much about how well someone is doing. Survivor-style games, however, tend to track the number of deaths that a player has had as well -- either deaths by enemy action or by their own hands. In these games, what counts is the ratio of the number of people you've killed to the number of times you've died,or your kill to death ratio. With this number, you have a very simple metric for determining whether or not a given player is pulling his own weight: If his kill/death ratio is less than one, then he's getting killed more often than he's killing enemies, so he's weighing the team down. If it's more than one, then the player is doing their job and on average killing more than one enemy for each time they die. Obviously, the higher this ratio is, the better.
If you're going to brag, brag about the right numbers. It's kills per minute in deathmatch-style games, and kills per death in survivor-style ones.