Category Archives: email

On email etiquette and privacy…

>While almost everyone these days is using email, either at home, at work, or both, there are some simple principles of email etiquette that are largely ignored.

Protect your contacts
I give out my email address to my friends and colleagues so that they can communicate with me. Unfortunately, not everyone can keep things to themselves. While many people wouldn’t think of writing the addresses of every person they know on an envelope, that’s exactly what they do when sending an email. Not only is this a huge breach of trust and downright rude – it also helps spread viruses and spam. Use Bcc whenever you are sending to a group of people.

Don’t pass along chain letters and hoaxes
Chain letters are downright annoying, and are a form of spam – about the only thing worse than spam is spam from a friend.
Hoaxes can spread panic, clog mailboxes, and waste many, many hours trying to clean up the mess afterwards.

Use a clear concise subject for your messages
Some people get a lot of email – hundreds or thousands of messages a day. When dealing with that many messages, it helps to be able to find things quickly, and know what you need to look at first. Thus, the subject line can be the most important part of the message – in about 40-60 characters or so, it should tell the recipient clearly what the message is about so that they can decide when they need to read it, and can find it later.

But don’t abuse words like urgent or important
Sure, your message is important to you – every message is for that matter… however, trying to draw attention to your message in this manner is like crying wolf – it makes the recipient numb to such cries and may even make them ignore you entirely. Furthermore, such keywords are common in spam emails – and may cause your message to get eaten by spam filters.

Remember that email isn’t private
Emails can be easily forwarded, printed, and copied. You never know who else may be looking at the screen. Furthermore, email usually travels unencrypted over public networks – similar to a postcard – everyone that handles it can read your message. If privacy matters to you, then you – and whomever you are trying to correspond with need to take special measures to protect privacy, including using encryption software, screen locks, and other means to keep private messages private. Even with encryption, you have no control of what the recipient of a message does with it.