Software

Chain e-mails: We don't want them, but what to do?

Chain e-mails. We've all received them, and most IT professionals probably loathe them. But how should we go about asking people to refrain from sending them without running the risk of offending a good friend or a relative? This is my stab at it.

Chain e-mails. We've all received them, and most IT professionals probably loathe them. But how should we go about asking people to refrain from sending them without running the risk of offending a good friend or a relative? This is my stab at it.

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It seems like a catch-22 situation. On one hand, we don't want to be the recipient of those annoying chain e-mails. On the other hand, we don't want to be too harsh on a friend or relative asking that we be excluded from their mass e-mailing. What to do? What to do?

Yes, some (maybe most) of these chain e-mail senders do deserve a harsh cease-and-desist order. But what about the ones who deserve a bit more?

I recently attempted to solve this dilemma by sending, what I hoped to be, a friendly and professional request to opt out of such future mailings. Feel free to copy my letter and send it along to people who send you these types of e-mails. Or if you can come up with better wording or explanations, please share with your TR peers. Also, please share any other experiences or comments you have about these things — these chain e-mails.

(Due to requests, the letter has been edited and condensed from its original form.)

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Dear.....

Regarding what I might call chain e-mails — a missing child report; a pyramid letter; a joke exchange; a heart-throbbing story about some dying child; a political statement, usually making some fringe-element claim; or any number of other useless bits or bytes of information (or misinformation).

Please exclude me from your list of recipients. I don't want to receive any of them, even the ones you think I will just love. I never pass them along when people do send them to me, the claims are almost all hoaxes, and people would be wise to simply ignore all of them. Moreover, these types of e-mails actually pose a threat to the security of my computer — and yours. One of the worst things a computer user can do is to broadcast his/her e-mail address to too many people, which ultimately gets it added into any number of address books.

Whenever any e-mail is forwarded to others, all e-mail addresses that came before are also forwarded. And you'd be surprised at how many computers,¬†especially home computers, have malware of some sort residing on them — some of which are designed to actually harvest e-mail addresses from people's address books and from their e-mails.

So please, do me a favor and stop sending them to me. And consider doing yourself a favor and refuse them yourself. If you'd like to share this request, feel free, but PLEASE don't forward it or mass e-mail it, but rather send it individually. I would never share your e-mail address with anyone without your consent, and forwarding any e-mail does just that.

Regards.....

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Like I said, feel free to copy my letter and send it along to people who send you these types of e-mails (minus my name and e-mail address, of course). If you can come up with better wording or explanation, please share with your TR peers. (Mine does seem kind of long.) Also, please share any other experiences or comments you have about these things — these annoying chain e-mails.

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