Software

Make your messages accessible on any device: Use plain-text e-mail

William Jones believes that rich HTML email has seen its day. As people read email in more places and on more devices, content--and not presentation--is paramount.

William Jones believes that rich HTML e-mail has seen its day. As people read e-mail in more places and on more devices, content—and not presentation—is paramount.

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Last week, Joe Rosberg asked readers to respond to a poll regarding the role that smartphones play in their lives. Seventy-five percent of respondents have a smartphone themselves, and sixty-five percent of techs report having to support them at work. I’m hoping then that I’ll be able to get most of you on board when I encourage you to make plain-text e-mail the default on the machines you support.

I’ve been using a BlackBerry for two years now, and it’s great for e-mail. Having a smartphone has changed how I relate to messaging. In fact, I read a higher percentage of my messages on my smartphone than I do on my computer. Working the help desk means I’m usually not at my desk, and when I am I’m usually trying to accomplish other tasks. Having my e-mail in my pocket lets me be more productive. It also means I have no patience for HTML e-mail messages anymore.

To be fair, I’ve always been crotchety about rich text and image-laden e-mail. From the beginning I never got the appeal. E-mail was always useful enough for me as plain text and attachments. Adding HTML features seemed like gilding the lily.

I felt vindicated as we started seeing some of the ways that HTML e-mail could be misused: phishing scams can hide destination URLs and redirect users to malicious Web sites and inline images can ping advertisers’ servers to let them know their messages are being read. Now our mail clients avoid displaying most of those rich HTML features anyway, as a security feature. And yet, some people insist on continuing to use HTML e-mail. If they’re trying to reach a BlackBerry user like me, that's a great way to ensure I don’t read their messages.

When I whip out my smartphone to read a new message and find myself confronted with a screen full of HTML and no actual content, I assume the message is an advertisement, and I delete it. This is because my users and I discovered that reading image-rich e-mail messages on our BlackBerrys is a major pain. Those advertisers and newsletters that send the few image-heavy messages I do want to see are filtered so they don’t end up coming to my phone. I read them at my leisure when I’m at my desk. So, bear in mind, if you’re not on my personal Rich Text whitelist, your message may end up in the bit bucket.

As people read e-mail on a wider variety of devices, I think we should put plain-text e-mail at the forefront again. Set your users’ e-mail applications to default to using plain text when they compose new messages. Odds are, most of them will never miss the rich text features, and you can rest assured that messages are being sent in a format that is universally accessible. Which is great for the BlackBerry users like me, but even more vital for someone who relies on a different type of assistive device. You see, screen readers for the blind really prefer plain text, too.

58 comments
r.klingenberg
r.klingenberg

plain text are ugly nad difficult to read. html is confortable. I love html. Rainer

aevangelista
aevangelista

Dear fellow site users, I would like to thank Mr. William Jones for his opinion. It is good to know that someone else despises email in HTML as much as I do. However, I have received many emails that lacked just as much clarity in plain text. Can anyone give me a list of tips on writing a good email?

lindynanny13
lindynanny13

I am no genius, but I know what I like to see. My Dad was a computer system's analyst in the 60's while in the Navy. Today he uses a typewriter for letters, and doesn't have a clue how to e-mail.Pyography is fun. Let's go there.

jwells
jwells

is one that can be read universally by everyone by any appliance. It's the law for the government and educational institutions or anyone receiving federal monies.

ehruska
ehruska

The problem is is that there are three types of email. 1) Message, short chatty messages up to a paragraph. These should almost always be in plain text with key items as attachments. (this should be the majority of email) 2) Notifications, and alerts should be rich text so you can highlight key points otherwise people gloss over the important points (ideally this could be handled through RSS feeds or intranet/extranet site, but unfortunately most companies/people aren't coordinated enough to make that a reality) 3) Marketing messages and newsletters...like the TechRepublic Newsletter that pointed me to this blog...HTML (Spam fits under this category, but also some useful stuff as well) All three types should be categorized within your email client appropriately. I don't feel there is 1 best format.

whatisnew
whatisnew

I have to communicate with people outside of my organization. In order to see all incoiming emails, I have to allow HTML. Until a greater format to replace HTML, I don?t think that average email users would give up their HTML format emails. I didn't forget what my job is "I'm a IT support person not a IT Nazis". From an end user point of view, Word editor (HTML/rich text) is much much better than notepad (plain text).

Ann K
Ann K

It has been said more than once here that HTML or RTF are very effective means of communcation and I readily concur.

user support
user support

I don't have a smart phone and don't directly support persons that use them. I have been using plain text email for a long time. Recently our office switched to "Branding" of email signatures which requires all emails to be in HTML format. This blessing came from the Communications office without the support of IT. HTML or RTF does come in handy when I need to email a screen shot of an issue where there is not way to drop it at a network location to pick it up elsewhere. So I think your format depends on device used and situation.

Jaqui
Jaqui

and It's what I've been saying for a long time. html / rich text emails are spam.

williamjones
williamjones

In my post for this week, I explain how my increasing reliance on my smartphone for reading my email has worn out my patience for messages that rely on rich text, HTML, and embedded images. Reading my mail on a mobile device has made me more selective about the messages I read. Unless the content is worth going out of my way for, I'll probably just delete any message that makes me wade through a lot of HTML code to get to the point. Apart from advertising, is there a justifiable business case for using rich-text or HTML email, especially when to do so risks not getting the message across?

ian3880
ian3880

Too many people, in my opinion, simply do the email equivalent of frothing at the mouth. Apply the KISS principle (Keep It Short & Simple). Consider some of these tips ... 1 Good, clear thinking about what you are trying to convey to the reader is a great place to start. Sit and think about it for a minute or two before starting to type. * Stick to the point. * Keep sentences short. * If what you have to say needs more than (say) three paragraphs, consider if it would be better to add an attachment * If you do add an attachment, preferably use PDF format - as this is just about the only document type EVERYONE can readily open. Now this is where you CAN go crazy. In an attachment you can use as much colour, formatting, pictures - just about any font your little heart desires. PLEASE - make use of spell and grammar checkers which are often in word processing programs :-) A free plug for OpenOffice - Open Office will export any of your fancy documents and/or spreadsheets DIRECTLY to PDF format, as do some other programs. 2 ALWAYS re-read your email carefully and check that it correctly conveys your message. Check also for spelling and grammar mistakes, particularly if it is to a client or prospective employer. [i dont think itssmart to shew your igorant ] 3 Avoid jargon unless it is to a like-minded person. 4 NEVER ... I repeat ... NEVER reply to an angry or derogatory (flame mail) email on the same day you receive it. Sleep on it overnight. Re-read the email and try to work out what the real message actually is. Reply with humour if possible. Otherwise simply reply "Thanks for your email and info" and NOTHING MORE. This often annoys the crap out of the sender because the whole aim of flame email is to annoy you, the reader. Of course some people are just morons, and would be just as rude and abusive over the phone, or face to face. In which case seriously consider if any reply would be worthwhile. Hope this answers your question

cnet
cnet

You mean the stuff they send to your address of record? That's snail mail.

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

I allow my users to send/receive html formatted mail. but all mail I personally receive is plain text by choice. I support several graphics designers and local and remote sales staff, I see the valid use of html mail for them. Notepad supports multifonts, bold, italic, and general text formatting (tabs and paragraphs). What it lacks is underlining and font coloring as well as in-line graphics and files. I agree that the proliferation of HTML mail is only going to increase as a global trend, but that also includes all exploits, hacks, scripts, trojans, and virus that can proliferate through the html medium. And as of yet, I know of no bullet proof AV product. Interesting point, several friends of mine work in government agencies that do not allow any html email for security and data integrity reasons. So there are good, valid reasons to not use HTML mail, and very good reasons to use HTML mail. Its another one of those "right tool for the job" situations.

ITCompGuy
ITCompGuy

Personal feelings aside, I think that it is easy to get jaded working in IT. We are usually the early adapters and sometimes are the main thing stopping progress. When we find something that works well or to our liking, we will find any excuse not to change, unless the change is forced upon us. I think there are good arguments on both sides. Sometimes plain text just makes sense. Depending on your environment, circumstance, and audience, HTML or RTF may be preferred. I used rich text in the majority of my messages because it is a personal preference. I also carry a Blackberry. A good example of living and learning is Text Messaging and Instant Messaging. In the mid-to-late '90's, I used and tested various instant messaging clients. I just did not see any valid business use for them. Also, there were gaping security holes and risk inherited with using instant messaging the the associated tools. Years later I worked in a high volume helpdesk call center where an Instant messenger client was used. It was great. It was used so that agents could communicate between other agents and other IT groups while talking to customers. It helped emensely with problem resolution and quick efficient customer service. A lot of people live by text messaging. I personally have very little use for it. I have email work & home, work phone, home phone, blackberry and if I can't be reached by any of those mediums then I do not need to be reached. But that is my personal take. Professionally, I support SMS texting and have it enabled for smartphone users. It is the preferred method of communication for a growing number of people, which means that you either prepare to adapt or be left behind.

tim2iron
tim2iron

I can't imagine a world without e-mail formatting. I'm sure the next generation wouldn't consider working for a company that doesn't employ the technologies they use day in and day out in their private lives. Man where have you been? ALL devices will soon support these rich, colorful, life enhancing features.

brett.aubrey
brett.aubrey

SPAM??? Pffft! The reason it came in is to improve productivity and increase quick comprehension. Spam is content, not highlighting and emphasis. Make all technology compatible as capability rises.

darpoke
darpoke

at the end of the day. Various studies place the role of the actual words used in a conversation at around or less than ten percent of what is communicated between parties. Whatever proportion they convey, I'm sure most would agree that things like tone, emphasis and body language are significant contributory factors. When communicating over the phone (unless video chatting), body language is obviously off-limits - but intonation and cadence are perfectly observable to the listener. In a purely text-based medium however one quickly finds that such nuances can be very difficult to convey. Sarcasm, for example, is one of the hardest forms of expression to impart without directly stating so, which greatly diminishes its effectiveness. Those who are accomplished at written communication will have less difficulty in navigating such pitfalls but it is by no means easily done, particularly in a plaintext composition. Formatting options such as text style, colour, or even fonts can greatly reduce the difficulty of communicating non-textual information such as tone of voice or emphasis of a word or clause, in a way that may have been possible without them but not achieved as succinctly or easily. In other words they are a tool - to save time for those who could have managed to do without them, as well as to make such expression available to those to whom it comes less easily. Surely this is true for most if not all software packages, when viewed as tools? Naturally it is a case of choosing the right time and place to use them, since they come at a cost of increased message size, which as stated earlier in this forum is literally a _cost_ for those on certain data price plans (thank god for my uncapped iphone contract!). However I would be inclined to view the exclusion of HTML messages or their automatic conversion to plaintext as a rather strong and perhaps even intolerant approach to the issue. Living as I do in England, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect people to speak the English language. I think it would be a little unfair however, to restrict my communication to those who speak in a manner I find acceptable, such as correct verb conjugation, article usage, or enunciation. We can and ought to expect that users of HTML formatting do so with less of a liberal hand when considering the needs of their readers, but in the same way we ought to respect their freedom to express themselves in this fashion. The fact that exploits exist in the medium or that it requires more resources to support it are the worst reasons to abandon it that I can think of. Maybe we should remove all our machines from the network if we're worried about hacking or malware? Or perhaps we should properly secure our networks and educate our users instead of shackling them with monotonal 19th century communication methods. It's been a long-winded way of saying so but I don't think, in the 21st century, that we should chastise people for communicating with us in manners that our client devices are not optimised to handle. If you don't have wi-fi access or HTML support then perhaps the failure in communication is not on the end of the HTML writer?

ian3880
ian3880

Been using plain text emails all of my computing days. Has anyone complained that my emails look drab? NO! Has anyone complained that they couldn't understand what I was saying? NO! Emoticons are good. What about all those keyboard shortcuts BEFORE HTML emoticons eg colon hyphen right bracket ( happy) which will show up on most people's email clients as [ :-) ] (an emoticon) semicolon hyphen right bracket (wink) or ;-) etc, etc. What about good old shorthand eg LOL (Laughing Out Loud)? Recently had to admonish a friend who 'discovered' fancy formatting in whatever program they used to write the email. When "translated" by my browser it was unreadable (Browser? Yes - to be precise - the inbuilt email client in Opera). To me the use of fancy formatting or colour in no way enhances the content of the message or compensates for the sender's inability to clearly put their thoughts into words. Ummmmm ... RTF and/or HTML adds extra bytes to the message, doesn't it? On my data plan I PAY for those extra and unwanted useless bits of information. So to answer the original question by William - very obviously I DON'T use RTF or HTML!

mdhealy
mdhealy

One of my top irritations at work is the email from Human Resources announcing some new policy with formatting and graphics turning three pages of text into a couple of megabytes.

Snuffy.
Snuffy.

As someone who has been an e-mail administrator since the late 80's and an early adopter of smartphones (I've been using a Palm phone for years including my current Centro) I have to agree with William. I have never seen the value in HTML e-mail. Maybe I'm too old-school and don't value the sizzle over the steak, but one of the first things I do anytime I install a new e-mail client on one of my workstations is to disable HTML or rich text e-mail in favor of plain text, both receiving and sending. If you can't convey your meaning in a concise manner without resorting to emoticons or background images, perhaps a writing or communications course is in order. I also find e-mail so laden with HTML that it's hard to find the content I'm interested in extremely annoying. - Snuffy - Feeding the trolls since 1989.

mcooper11551
mcooper11551

Text formatting is merely a tool. How one uses the tool is what makes it useful or a waste. All the arguments thus far for either side only reinforce this. What needs to be considered is whether the author of a particular email knows what they are doing (techie and non-techie alike - common sense is not trade-specific) Were I to receive lots of emails with excessive and wasteful formatting, I would likely filter them as well. I personally use HTML and RTF formatting very frequently. However, deviation from all the most most basic formatting is used sparingly. Cases in point would be end-user and/or client consumables. Moderation and good judgment should win the day here - not format choice.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

...sent in HTML?!?!?!?! I agree. HTML is for the WEB, NOT E-MAIL!!!

Transplanted Texan
Transplanted Texan

I find it ironic and hysterical that the TechRepublic email newsletter that I received highlighting your blog post was sent to me in, you guessed it, Rich Text/HTML. Without the pretty words, your posting wouldn't have looked nearly as interesting. Say what you will, but it seems to me that you, personally, are benefiting from the very thing you think should be done away with. I find that terribly odd.

brett.aubrey
brett.aubrey

This is a step back to the dark ages... rich text came in for a reason once the technology was up to snuff. Rather than hampering Smartphones, get 'em using some technology to support basic text emphasis now (italics, bolding, underline at the minimum); full rich text later. The technology will catch up, just like it has everywhere else.

ron.nocket
ron.nocket

I think William Jones needs to update his thinking. VIrtually all of the folks I support use Word as their editor-of-choice (for many significant reasons) and I am happy to get their Rich Text Format emails on my BlackBerry. Not only can I see their text in bold or in colors or even when they use underlining. I can see what they have emphasized without needing any special software. I also can see most embedded graphics as well as well as ALL of their attachments. The same is true with HTML-formatted documents. If you haven't updated your BlackBerry to the 4.5/4.6 version, you are missing out on a lot in your bland, text-based world.

rbackus
rbackus

Before HTML and other "publishing" software, people were still able to format their messages. You use white space around things to make them stand out, you indent to show subtopics, you use dashes to bullet items. These replys don't use HTML - but everyone seems to do just fine...

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

"When I whip out my smartphone to read a new message and find myself confronted with a screen full of HTML" Why aren't you (or your IT department) having the Blackberry server convert to plain text before forwarding the mail to the phone? HTML is not going away, and merely suggesting what a waste it is will not make it go away any sooner. Adapt or die... that's my motto.

daniel.clarke
daniel.clarke

...however, this does seem to focus on advertising and mass communications. What about the average business user? Typically users of Outlook are using Word to compose their emails and *apparently* like the familiarity that this brings to them. I honestly think that in my business, being able to apply some formatting to the body of an email to emphasise key points, differentiate and illustrate a communication is very helpful and actually improves the level and clarity of the communication to the our clients / recipients. In many cases, increasingly, we use email communication instead of a phone call. Putting the usual issues of that trend aside, the formatting helps, I believe it honestly does; it's like the tone of speech in some ways. I mean, who wants to listen to someone spouting line after line in monotone with no *emphasis*?

Slayer_
Slayer_

When you send an email that is just a wall of text full of political garbage, its helpful to highlight the important pieces so your readers are more likely to read the key points.

aevangelista
aevangelista

Hi! I just wanted to thank you for your tips.

airidh
airidh

I'd really like to be able to read TechRepublic's emails in my email client (Eudora), instead of the extra step of bringing up the browser. In fairness, the embedded links did come out in blue and underlined; couldn't make them show up here, but apart from that, part of the message looked like this: Registry Cleaners: Are they a good thing or possibly bad? Many kinds of malware keep rearing their ugly heads because of some embedded trigger planted in the Windows Registry. Can registry cleaners that are designed to remove these things actually do more harm than good? The top 10 peeves of a support tech IT pro Becky Roberts discovered that in the support field, certain workplace aggravations seem to persist regardless of the industry or environment. See if your annoyances match hers. How do I ... recover lost data with DiskDigger?DiskDigger searches storage media for traces of lost files using brute-forcing to work its way through every single sector of drive. Jack Wallen explains how to use this open source application to recover data. Smartphones: Do you use one or support them? Take the poll and share your experience With the recent popularity of Smartphones, they're bound to make their way into user support functions, either by having to support them or actually using them. Take the poll and share your experiences. Additional TechRepublic resources Use an Excel range to save time and prevent errors Don't enter the same values and formulas over and over. Assign a range to a single instance and use the range name instead. 10+ keyboard shortcuts for working efficiently with Outlook items You can zip around Outlook via the keyboard if you know a few handy shortcuts. This useful list covers basic tasks, from creating a distribution list to generating a meeting request. Disable the Insert key to prevent accidental overtyping in Word Have you ever been typing away in a document only to have your existing text get gobbled up by the new text you're entering? You've inadvertently toggled on overtype mode -- a common and vexing occurrence. Here's how to prevent it once and for all. Video: TR Out Loud - March 27, 2009 Questions of the Week The TR community that has been enjoying the NCAA basketball tournament should certainly enjoy this episode of TR Out Loud on Video (TROLOV). Aside from a little March Madness, TROLOV also covers the weekly highlights at TechRepublic. This was a _short_ section. Even a few white spaces or blank lines might have helped ....

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

that made the point that communication is using the fewest words in the most efficient way without sacrificing clarity. To use a car analogy, word are the engine, drive train, steering, all the mechanical. Highlighting and emphasis are the paint job and color of the upholstery. Are they a nice feature. Yes. Are they required? No. Calling them SPAM is a bit extreme though. I do agree with you there.

Jaqui
Jaqui

your "emphasis and highlighting" is just reams of gibberish to wade through. content is plain text, advertising uses html / rich text. spam = advertising. html / rich text email -= advertising = spam.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Is diplomacy, as well as English. And not long-winded. More like, well-interwoven. Noob, you are not.

williamjones
williamjones

TechRepublic's newsletters don't get read on my phone. The content is worth making an exception for, though, so I filter the newsletter messages so they're not shown on my phone. I read them when I'm back at my desk with a full mail client that supports HTML. I do this with a couple of other newsletters I value...usually graphics-heavy photo hobbyist posts. I just don't find that most of my business communications require the extra formatting.

rbackus
rbackus

I remember someone from TechRepublic saying that more than half of the subscribers receive their e-mail in plain text. This group still seems to be able to read their mail and find content of interest. The bottom line is that whatever format, you can get used to it, and you can use it successfully. Everything else is a matter of choice or opinion. I personally don't like a high noise level.

doug.cronshaw@baesystems
doug.cronshaw@baesystems

... that feature is part of your TechRepublic profile. TechRepublic subscribers have been able for several years to select the format in which they receive e-mails from RechRepublic.

Aoron
Aoron

Nice done Colorado real estate

williamjones
williamjones

TechRepublic's newsletters are saved for when I'm at my desk, the same way these forums are. I don't need to have a full Internet experience on my phone. Maybe my requirements are different than some others. You know what works great on my phone, though? Twitter. That's how I usually follow TechRepublic when I'm mobile. Try following @TRBlogs. (Individual TR articles work okay formatted for WAP browsing, too!)

williamjones
williamjones

You seem to be making the argument that advancement is obviously better. I don't know that emoticons and other non-essential text formatting actually improve the effectiveness of communications like email. You're right, the technology might support these features more widely eventually, but is that necessarily a benefit? Consider what happened as computers increased their memory and storage capacities. Programmers didn't have to worry about optimizing their work, so programs became less resource efficient overall.

williamjones
williamjones

The most recent OS for my Pearl 8100 is 4.1. Sounds like a BlackBerry OS that's only supported on certain phones could be considered "special software." You say I'm not "with the times." I may not have the newest BlackBerry available, you're right about that. You also assume I use Word/Outlook for mail management. That's not the case. I've generally found that when I'm trying to make sure technical systems are compatible assuming people are using the "latest and greatest" can be dangerous. Anyone seen any recent figures about how many folks are still using Win2K?

ginmemphis
ginmemphis

HTML is wonderful--I love pretty colors and fonts. If you are not able to get your point across with plain text, though, don't blame the lack of bold letters and cute symbols. Use your words. Use punctuation. Learn how to write and how to spell. Please learn how to express yourself without 14 question marks or an exclamation mark on every line.

williamjones
williamjones

* stars or dashes for bullets * stars around a word for *emphasis* * underscore characters for _underlining_ They work fine for me, they're intuitive, and most importantly, they don't rely on secondary interpreters. Thanks!

williamjones
williamjones

It took me long enough to start carrying a smartphone! Your technical point is valid, though. It occurred to me that there might be a way to strip HTML with a BES, but I don't manage my own. Like a lot of small operations, I use the BIS service that my carrier provides. It doesn't offer so fine a control over message filtering. Thanks for your thoughts!

janet.ruddell
janet.ruddell

I want my HTML on my Blackberry so I can easily click on a link and go to the internet.

williamjones
williamjones

Also, I can configure my client to convert the message you composed in Word into plain text on my end. Is formatting still valuable if you can't be guaranteed the recipient is seeing the message as you intended? Thanks for your thoughts.

janet.ruddell
janet.ruddell

I love HTML and use emoticons where I think I need to convey an emotion that words can not whether it is good news, bad news, tough deadline request, etc. I get very good responses from these little emoticons...but hey, don't use 'em if you don't like 'em.

brett.aubrey
brett.aubrey

SPAM is content and/or advertising... the format chosen for any presentation has *squat* to do with SPAM - that is, you can easily have plain-text spam and rich text non-spam. You're simply wrong. 'Bye.

darpoke
darpoke

You know what, Santeewelding? You've just made my day. Truly. I've been following articles and forums on TR since about the end of last year, and lately I've found myself posting more often. I'm still quite the neophyte when it comes to a lot of sysadmin stuff but with the help of great sites like TR and a genuine interest in learning I'm developing new skills every day, so when I feel confident enough to post, I do. You've inspired me to update my user name. 'trnoob', no more. Henceforth, the world shall know me as 'darpoke'! It's a little more opaque but it's the only nickname I ever got that I didn't hate :?)

brett.aubrey
brett.aubrey

Think what you may, but I recall the studies around Comprehension and rich text v. plain', 'Productivity and color v. mono' and similar. These types of presentation advancements virtually always improve communications. Your 'optimization' issue is a clear red herring that could be applied anywhere. You seem to be the type to call for machine language over auto-coder, auto-coder over assembly, assembly over still more advanced languages. Your advocacy belongs in the Dark Ages, IMHO, and will get us there. 'Nuff said. 'Bye.

a.barry
a.barry

In HTML messages (particularly those containing tables or the equivalent), it is very difficult to cut out text and paste it into another application without a lot of post-formatting.

blarman
blarman

Size. Embedded images take up a lot of space and consume a lot of bandwidth to download. For those of us with pay-per-megabyte service for mobile devices, those emails are costing me money just so that the sender can apply some feel-good formatting. Thanks, but no thanks. And I'd be careful about your tone. You make the assumption that everyone should just accept HTML-based emails (as evinced by your "luddite" comment). That type of my-way-or-the-highway attitude is less than endearing. I would much rather see a plain text email because I am a content over format type of guy. Pretty backgrounds and embedded images don't do a thing when the content of your email still lacks. And if there is one feature I'd much rather see in email than support for HTML, it's sender authentication. I'd much rather fry the bigger fish of unsolicited email than spend a lot of time messing with formatting and personalization.

janet.ruddell
janet.ruddell

In the years that I've enjoyed emoticons, I have never once received a reply asking me to stop sending them. On the contrary, I've received messages asking me where the little smiley thing is that I have. Or I've been asked for a specific smiley so a user can send it to someone else. BUT, it doesn't matter to me at all if you don't want to see them. I guess I'm lucky, I really enjoy my work and the people I work for so I'm just spreading cheer with my little GetSmile emoticons and it is well received in my circle.

iguanasrule
iguanasrule

You're like a guy I work with. He does the same thing too. Why? Because he can! It's not a forced technological limitation, it's just him being an obstinate ass. First off, unless somebody has decided that he wants to be a bit of a technological Luddite, I can be fairly confident the recipient will receive my message -- HTML formatting and all -- properly. Even Pine has the ability to display HTML messages! And I'm sure BlackBerries will soon get that ability, too. (And, yes, I get HTML messages on my BlackBerry all the time and they look fine.) In fairness to you, the points you made were valid -- in 2003. Even Outlook Express (which, in case you haven't heard, is deprecated) will not allow embedded images to be pulled from remote servers by default. Pretty much every current desktop mail client and web mail client today will block remote images (and scripts and executables) unless the user specifically requests to see the images. For me, sometimes I do, most of the time I do not. If you want to indulge your quirky tastes, that's fine. To each his own. But don't expect the other 90% of us to conform.

janet.ruddell
janet.ruddell

Sending an identical message to the large group that I work form leads to a more consistent message...plus I don't have time to make 25-30 telephone calls whenever communications are necessary.

brett.aubrey
brett.aubrey

Not all communications most of of use needs to be 'very professional' of indeed *should be* 'very professional'. Yes, many of us use these tools in a completely unprofessional manner in contexts where 'completely unprofessional' is the most appropriate use of the communique. And your 'usually recompose' or 'pick up the phone' is precisely the point to avoid limiting communication formats. If you're doing *this* when rich text or emoticons could make things clear, your productivity is clearly *no longer* optimal. And a great many times, phone is completely INappropriate - not only might it be the wrong tool for any given situation, but it might be the wrong time to use it. Please stop advocating for technological limitations where technology is all about - or always has been about - expansion. If *you* don't wanna use these things, then don't... but as pundit, I feel you are completely inappropriate where your advocacy could limit billions who might want this.

williamjones
williamjones

I personally try and avoid using emoticons. I don't think they are very professional. You're absolutely right in saying that sometimes we need to be sensitive to context, though. If I'm worried something will be mis-interpreted in email, I usually recompose my message. Or I pick up the phone. Thanks for your thoughts, Janet.