Things not to do with email…

I came across a post at the “43 Folders” blog (Writing sensible email messages) that has some good pointers on writing useful email messages. I won’t rehash it all here but it got me thinking of some of the things I’ve learned over the years with all the emails I’ve handled (and if you’re anything like me you know what a nuisance spam is…but then nobody is immune!) Anyway, I’m surprised how many people still follow such poor email habits that I thought I’d write a list of things not to do with email…hopefully it will be helpful.

1. Don’t be a lazy forwarder…

What is a lazy forwarder? A “LF” is someone who gets a joke, or chain letter, or story from someone via email and fowards it to everyone in their address list. I usually delete close to 95% of such emails I get from people simply because a. The subject field has a, “[FWD – Cute joke lucy!]” or b. I just don’t have the time to be reading all these things. Half the time I wonder if the person sending me the forward even knows that they sent it to me.
Some helpful pointers:

  • Before forwarding something ask yourself if what you are about to pass along is something you’d print out a hard copy of, place in an envelope and plant a stamp on to send to everyone in your address list.
  • Although it takes more time…take the time to find out whether people in your address book actually want to receive those jokes, stories, or chain letters that you just have to forward. Use your email program’s groups to make it easier to differentiate between these people. It will take a little time to set up but if you are a compulsive forwarder DO IT!
  • If you forward something, do a little editing to ensure that the “meat” of the email is what is seen first. Cut out all the comments that people added (“This is funny”, “Cool”, “LMAO”, etc.) and just leave the original text. The biggest reason why I delete any forwarded emails I get is when I have to scroll to find the original – now i don’t even bother…I just crumple it up and trash it (well, figuratively speaking!)
  • Then, make sure the subject field contains a good description of the contents. It also doesn’t hurt to add a brief message to your recipient(s) to indicate that you’ve actually read it.

2. Don’t be a myth propagator!

There are numerous myths, urban legends, and hoaxes that circulate through the internet and via email. A myth propagator is someone who receives one of these things and right away thinks to themselves, “Oh my! I’ve gotta pass this on…I can’t believe it!”. Then the “MP” proceeds to forward it to everyone in their address book. The problem is, they shouldn’t have believed it! Just this week I received three emails from friends that were forwarded hoaxes. Remember:

  • Not everything you receive from people (even friends/trusted people because they probably just were LF’ing it) via email is true. Before you send it off to someone else check out the story…if you’re too lazy to check it out then don’t bother forwarding it. A good resource I use all the time that helps me determine if something is a hoax or not is
  • Sending off stuff that is a hoax passed off for fact can be detrimental to your credibility – do you really want to become known as the joe who believes anything that comes through their inbox?
  • Sadly, I find that Christians tend to be among the most prolific “MP’s” when we should be vigilant at what we pass on as fact. Alot of the hoaxes that I get in my inbox have to do with religious themes.
  • When in doubt, and a story can’t be verified – don’t send it unless you can verify it.

3. Don’t be an Attachment Queen!

Email has given us the wonderful ability to send documents, pictures, and different files to friends, workmates, and others. Attachment Queens are people who fill up their email with so many “attached” files that instead of taking milli-seconds to open an email, it takes 2-3 seconds to open theirs (even longer for dial-up users). I’m not against sending pictures via emails but please, please don’t send a whole album! Also, take the time to resize your pictures so that the file size is smaller. Most photo album or editing software will automatically do this for you when you use it to send the pictures via email (some good software that I use is Picasa by google. Best of all – it’s FREE!)

Well that’s just a few of my suggestions for things not to do with email. It would make all our inboxes a whole lot less cluttered if there were less LF’s, MP’s, and AQ’s in the world…wouldn’t you agree?

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