General discussion



By penguinvitamins2 ·
I live in a world where I have to filter through 100s of e-mails a day. Seeing that the firm I work for uses e-mail as the de facto communication tool, it would?ve been nice if a good e-mail culture was in place. After all, it is a human on the other end of your mail message, so show some respect. So I?ve listed, in no particular order, the top most e-mail misuses I have come across. Maybe you can add some more here or use it to decrease such misuse in your organisation and establish a good, friendly and sound e-mail culture.

1. Replying to mail sent in an e-mail distribution list. Quite a common mistake one makes is to simply reply to mail sent in distribution lists. Not all replies are intended for all members of the list and it, in most cases, becomes ?spam? mail as reply messages are being bounced around using the same original recipient list. The question you should ask yourself before replying to the mail without editing the recipient list is:
a.Is your reply intended for the whole distribution list? If not make sure you change the recipient list accordingly. You will in most cases irritate other listed members.

2.Receipts and delivery reports to large distribution list. Receipts are good for tracking e-mail responses but ineffective when you don?t need to. The questions you should ask before enabling receipts to a message originally sent via a large distribution list are:
a.Do you care if the recipients read this message? If not receipts are unnecessary and adds overhead to mail systems.
b.Do you really want to receive a large volume of receipts in your already clogged up e-mail inbox?

3.Receipts as a default setting. One can set up your e-mail client in such a way that it requests a delivery report or read receipt on every e-mail you generate. But is it really necessary, is it effective and is it acceptable to your e-mail audience in all instances? Before making receipts a default setting on your e-mail client program you should consider the following:
a. Do you care if the recipients always read all of your messages, including carbon copied (cc) e-mails?
b.Do you need to keep track of every single e-mail you sent? What is the REAL reason for doing so and are there no better alternatives?

4.The use of Carbon copy (cc). If I had any say in e-mail program development I would remove the cc feature. It is probably the topmost misused feature in any organisation and it means that a single e-mail message is unnecessarily sent one too many times. The questions you should ask before entering someone?s e-mail address in the cc field:
a. Is the mail urgent for the cc?ed recipients in other words are it important for you if they will read or respond to a cc?ed mail.
b. Are you using it only to show your boss that you have done a task he/she has asked for?
The chances are very good that the recipient (including your boss) has already set up his/her e-mail inbox to filter cc?ed mail, either to the trash bin or to a special unimportant mail folder.

5. Forwarding mails from an external or internal source without adding value to the original e-mail. In real life, if you discovered something useful you would go up to a person and maybe say? Hey John, look what I?ve found, it could be helpful with that important proposal you?re doing? ?. So why do you appoint yourself to act as a mail relay? The person you directly forward an e-mail without providing some explanation or input, either might not understand why you forward him/her the e-mail or might or might not like it. If you want to be helpful, be helpful in a better way.

6.Writing in capital or bolding all words and sentences. Shouting is sometimes necessary, but via an e-mail message? Really?

7.Asking someone in the corridor or over the phone if he/she got your e-mail. My standard reply to someone asking such a question is ?No, have not seen it?. Why use e-mail then in the first place? It takes longer to compile an e-mail message than talking to a person. The flipside is, did you ask for a response or action in your e-mail message and did you ask the timeframe?

8.Blind carbon copy (Bcc) and e-mail. The appropriate terms for this feature are ?RUDE and inappropriate?. The fact that you post an e-mail to one person and without this person?s knowledge mail another exact copy to another person, is unacceptable, and in most cases unethical. It would be more acceptable to send someone an e-mail and then send a copy of this e-mail to the person you wanted to send it to in BCC format WITH a comment or reason doing so e.g. Starting off with e.g. ?Hi Greg, I?ve sent this e-mail to John and thought you should read it as well etc. etc.?

9. Longwinded e-mails, longwinded reply upon reply, upon reply. Using e-mail for a discussion or ?chatting? becomes quite ineffective after a while. You?ve seen them, that reply on reply on reply. It becomes even more confusing if there are multiple versions of the message, all with their own string of replies. The question you should ask after the 3d or fourth reply to your original message is: Can this discussion not be done over a phone or conference call or in a meeting? Remember you spend 5, 10 even 20 minutes preparing your reply, the other person feeling committed to reply does the same, and so on. A ? hour meeting might?ve shortened the discussion.

10.Headers, footers and greetings? Too lazy to add them? For example do you really mean ?With regards? at the end of your mail message? Start of by having a look at your mail content. Did you start your e-mail with a proper greeting e.g. e.g. Dear John, Hi John, etc. Another fact is the person might or might not have time to write you a reply so did you at least provide alternative contact details? Good practice and corporate branding is to start standardising e-mail formats for greetings, content, footers details and disclaimers.

As a last statement, e-mail (when used as a tool not a process) should be by no means the measure of how much work you do in a day e.g ?Hey, I get 99 mails a day! ?. Taking that you will read about 2/3rds of it, at an average of 2 minutes each and reply to about 1/3rd of it that takes about 10 minutes on average you will spend 132 minutes (2 hours and 12 minutes) reading and 330 minutes (5 ? hours) replying? Day gone, think about it...

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BCC very usefull

by Marty the Borg In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

I use BCC when I send e-mails to a large group, and don't want to "broadcast" the e-mail addresses of every addressee _to_ every other addressee.

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by jfowler In reply to BCC very usefull

I agree completely, the BCC predates e-mail by a considerable length of time and has many legitimate uses.
The problem isn't with these options being available electronically, but rather with some users possible inappropriate use of them.
Please don't punish the majority because of your personal prejudices.

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BCC means privacy

by Yellow81 In reply to BCC very usefull

BCC is useful when you have people that use a private and a public email address. Several executives like to use a public address that is posted througout the company for general use. This email is usually reviewed and sorted by the exec's secretary. Whereas the private address is used for more sensitive business information. Without BCC, we'd never be able to get away with using a private address.

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What is acceptable or not in your organisation

by penguinvitamins2 In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

If I may highlight, the topic is about e-mail etiquette (what is acceptable in your organisation) and if used wrongly how it affects other workers. Each organisation has its own way of doing things and there is a lot of uniqueness in each organisation. Mail has a lot of excellent features and ways to apply them but in quite a number of occasions users tend to use them for the wrong reasons.

I guess, as with all IT systems and the use thereof, good education is the key in every organisation. It also helps to have some sort of highlevel governance body in place so that you at least have the top down backup support for putting usage guidelines or policies in place.

PS For UCA, I?m no mail administrator, but I can tell you this, I need mail, I run a good portion of my business off it. :-)


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With all due respect I think you are using the least flexable Mail System

by zczc2311 In reply to What is acceptable or not ...

My previous comments with respect to your current problem you face with you Company consult for; The need to educate users on e-mail etiquette, wound be better served if they used GroupWise, especially if they have over 500 users and are in an enterprise Network Structure, the TCO of such a move will pay for itself within 1 software version upgrade, prove far more user friendly and offer the administrator far more powerful tools, curtail the need to teach etiquette, as a more sophisticated Enterprise mail system does not require you to teach etiquette; moreover it comes as etiquette built in smarts.

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by The Admiral In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

I think you have made some good points, on others that you deem unethical, I think you are not thinking through both sides of the coin.

You state: "Blind carbon copy (Bcc) and e-mail. The appropriate terms for this feature are ?RUDE and inappropriate?." Well, unfortunately I have to disagree with you that this is rude and inappropriate, I further disagree that this is unethical. When you are dealing with Human Resource issues such as hiring, firing, discrimination, and other cases, you have to have a way to archive responses and be able to prove to HR that you did everything in your power that was within your power do make the situation correct. When you send out a note or a letter to an employee that is acting irrationally, especially in a case where you are attempting to settle a claim, you are required in some instances by law to ensure that the appropriate authorities are copied.

Outside of the rant pertaining all of the other points that you make, how much of it is employee education versus thinking that professional emails should follow the same circumstance of their personal account? While I understand that many of the emails that they get are their own doing, the only way that they are going to learn to utilize their time is to design processes around their particular requirements; such as notes that have more than three responses is an instant meeting.

If they do not or have the inability to manage their email and their professional lives, I am sorry, the tech support department should consider that out of scope, and point them to a professional training session.

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Agenda of co-workers

by penguinvitamins2 In reply to

And I agree, off course BCC has its place. e.g. HR confidentiality.

But because it is there it will be used, and not always as it was intended for. You and I have to live with the fact that every single individual in the office has an agenda (good, bad ,big or small). Pity e-mail is sometimes used for scoring browny points in such a manner.

One other fact I did not mention is how easy it is to use your corporate e-mail address in registering for anything. Easy target for adding to the daily corporate junk mail quota.

Thanks for the input/comments :>


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I to disagree on Cc:

by Too Old For IT In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

If I don't send e-mail to a 3 or 4 person list of CC's, (a) many people in departments scattered around the couintry aren't up to date,and (b) my boss thinks I'm sitting here doing nothing all day.

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Bcc could be very useful..

by dherde In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

If your 'organisation' happens to be a bunch of good folk who are loosely spread over the area (city, state, country, etc.) and the internet and personal email accounts are used for this communication, (spelled 'Distribution lists'), It is very appropriate to use the Bcc function as it may not be in your best interest to spread everyones email address out to unsecured (non existant or inadequate virus protection) desktops. I love it when I see a social or community organizer, a friend to be sure, email my home email address to 81 other people that I don't know or love or maybe do know and love. I certainly have a warm feeling that none of these 81 people have a virus on their computer harvesting my email address. Bccing everyone eliminates the email lists in the header and thus the potential for spreading viruses.

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by dherde In reply to Bcc could be very useful. ...

I didn't mean 'eliminates ... the potential for spreading viruses' I should have said 'drastically reduces the potential for spreading viruses and reduces the probability that you are responsible for getting everyones' email address on yet another viagra list.

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