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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Rule 8: BCC

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

?RUDE and inappropriate?. <sic>

From the start of your note you also said "where I have to filter through 100s of e-mails a day."

Now to me that is inappropriate behaviour. Especially if you mean you personally filter through them rather than utilising a tool.

Is this ethical - and forget what your company wants you to do - is it legal?

Personally I believe there are times to use BCC. Such as when you are being bullied by a superior officer, or harassed ro any number of other valid reasons. The only rude and unethical thing happening then is the grief you as the bullied or harassed feel.

Before bleating about others mis-uses, spend some time thinking about what you do and the reasons why. Think about creating a training document that could passed round new users or even old users with set ways. Produce a document that describes appropriate ways to use the features you list as your top complaints and don't blame the end user for what a corporate support staff has implemented - especially when they can't change it most likely.

Just my 2p.

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Agreed, and done something about it already

by penguinvitamins2 In reply to Rule 8: BCC

Hi there

I've been down the road on e-mail use and it only comes from past personal experiences that wanted to write this discussion. I've been involved in the e-mail guidelines and policies for a long time in our organisation. And we've come a long way in doing so but it is still not perfect. We already do new staff initiation training sessions, quickguides on our Intranet, and so forth.

Off course I "filter through" e-mails using either rules or only glancing through the first parts of mails to check if there is relevance. However prevention is better than the cure, start at the root cause IF a problem do exists on e-mail misuse.

It seems everyone is up in arms re BCC. Remember I refer to misuse of BCC. Obviously there is good uses for it e.g. HR, external bulk distributions etc.

Thanks for the viewpoint/input :-)


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Overall agreement here

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

I agree that email is used improperly. I do use the BCC field, but only in one way: if I am sending an email out to a couple of people that is an identical message, it fits the new "privacy policy" laws here is Canada. The people get the message, I save time typing, and no one knows who else got it.
But that is the only time I use that function. As for the Read Receipts, I use that only on very important individual emails, when I must know that they did read it.
I can see nothing else in your list that I use in any other way...
You are just makes my blood pressure rise when I get "well meaning" forwards from my customers/friends, with a list of 50 email addresses in
I send them a kind but to the point email, stating if they must send me stuff like that, please send it to my private email, not the work one. That usually makes them think twice before sending me trash...cuts way back on email sorting.

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

I beleive both of these are actually VERY important features of E-Mail, and as any good tool can be used properly or abused - but abuse doesn't mean they need to be tossed into the trashpile.

For CC: I always think of this as "courtesy copy", and then only CC people who deserve the courtesy of receiving one. For example, if I am telling someone to get into contact with person X for further help, I will CC person X so that they know what might be comming and the background to it.

For BCC: This is the only way anyone should be forewarding/sending any mass mailings. This keeps everyone the mail is being sent to from becomming victims of uneducated/unscrupulous E-Mail users who foreward every picture/joke/story/chaninletter they receive to every address they can find.

I had one incident where a friend of mine who had a kind of "politcal discussion group" going in E-Mail did not use the BCC function for everyone in his list. One person on the list decided that he didn't agree with something said, and even though he had agreed to be on my friends list took it upon himself to begin spamming everyone on the list with his extremly fanatical views from his work E-Mail. It got so bad I finally had to notify him that if he continued with the unwanted mail I would have to file a complaint with the FTC and his employer directly since I had attempted to "opt out" of his mad ravings several times. I advised my friend to start using the BCC for any mass mailing he does so that this problem will not repeat itself.

Never forget, just because your frined gave you their E-Mail address does not mean they wanted everyone else to have it. Use BCC and protect the privacy of your friends.


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Thank GOD someone knows why BCC is so important

by zczc2311 In reply to CC & BCC

Thanks did a whole lot better at describing the most appropriate use of BCC. My humble offering at the top was just not clear enough. I bow to you Sir...;-)

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BCC can be necessary

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

I work in an organization made up almost entirely of franchise owners, each competing with each other. It is against corporate policy to send emails to all of these franchise owners at once without placing the names in BCC. The reason for this is to keep the email addresses of each of these franchise owners private from each other. Everyone is allowed one "accident" but after that, serious disciplinary action is taken against the offending party. All of these rules of etiquette may be subject to an exception, and so therefore should not necessarily be your rules, but a guideline for making your own rules. Common sense always seems to be common only to the IT guys, so just use common sense in your organization. I think that's the point the author's really trying to make. All of his rules appear to be in reaction to a non-tech's lack of common sense. I have never found a BCC to be "RUDE" or even "rude" or even plain inappropriate. Only people with insecurity issues would mind being BCC'ed.

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most common anti-spam message rule

by Jaqui In reply to BCC can be necessary

is if the message is not explicitly to me ( email address in to field ) then it is spam.

your companies policy makes sense, but your company can run afoul of the rule. ( included in most inti-spam enabled muas as a sample rule )

you may want to suggest looking at setting up a set of distribution lists for the server, where it sends individually addressed emails to the list, with actual sender not having to put an address in.
( email newsletters are a good example of this usage )

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Get A Life...

by f-4076287 In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

Your list of irritations are irrational. The only real email don't is to send "sting" email. that is, if you are pissed, go see the person and talk to them in person. Everything you mention are a big yawn, and many of them are actually necessary to effective email use.

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agreed with ckoupal

by avid In reply to Get A Life...

sounds like you are whining too much.

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Another Intellect

by Aaron A Baker In reply to agreed with ckoupal

What's the matter with you two?
What's wrong with wanting to better ourselves. Are we or are we not Pros.
I suggest that you stop treating your computers like X-Boxes or nintendos and get with the program. If you can't see what your attitudes indicate, you're in the wrong business.
Good Luck
Aaron A Baker
Oh By the way, if youre going to write me back, fine jst have the guts to do it froma real address, not a phony Yahoo or Hotmail k?

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