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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Filtering unneccessary Email

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

Hi ,
First of all i have to introduce myself.
My name is bhavesh bhatt , has been working with Hostmann-Steinberg as IT Manager in canada.
I have some questions for you to make my organization e-mail system healthy.
Details are as under.

1. So many unneccessary ( bunch of email )email has been recieved by the employee. I have to filter all of them.
2. What will be the best policy and software used to stop the unauthorized email sending ?
3.What will be the steps to implement healthy e-mail system in organization.
4.I want that when users read the email they can choose that the email is belongs to them or not.If not , then they are going to discard the email and if yes , then they are going to accept the email.Is there any software to be in place to stop unauthorized email sending ?

Help.. help..

Bhavesh Bhatt
IT Managar

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Policy probably the best way

by penguinvitamins2 In reply to Filtering unneccessary Em ...

Hi Bhavesh

The only thing I could maybe mention is that it all depends on your management and users as to how efficient and effective e-mails are in your organisation. Using software, rules, filters, anti-spam, incoming and outgoing scanners (e.g. Mail marshall) is in all cases only partially effective.

Draft an e-mail policy and get management to implement and enforce it. Without their buy in your efforts is also wasted. It would also be beneficial if your HR department has some say as to how abusers should be handled.

A product called Mail Marshal could help you filter out mail on an enterprise level. (It sends a message e.g. a rule to block MP3's to the administrator and to the user, and if work related the administrator can release the mail.)

Hope it helps. (PS somewhere on Techrepublic is an e-mail policy framework or in one of their publications)


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#8 BCC: another legitimate use

by Paul Dineen In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

I work in support, which involves sheltering the
developers for the end users. Not that the
developers don't care about the end users -- far
from it. It's just that they can't get enough
development done if they're frequently interruped
by direct contact from the many users. That's
where I come in -- I carry a badge ;-).
Anyway, when it's important to include a developer
on a message to a user, I use BCC so the
developer gets the message and the user doesn't
get the identity of the developer. Hardly, rude,
inappropriate, unacceptable or unethical. Users
understand that it's this way and they understand
why. I could resend the message directly to the
developer without using bcc, but that's just a
bit of unnecessary overhead.

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BCC a safe way to email

by jim.allen1 In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

Hi I note your comments but disagree on the BCC bit
Emails sent BCC means that 500 emails do not receive 500 email address as with too and CC thus you are not acting as a mailing list distributor to the next virus which pops it's ugly head and searches for all email address on a third parties computer.

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bcc rude?

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

i would rather have my email sent bcc especially if it is sent to multiple addresses. it prevents alot of people from getting my address unnecessarily.

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other reasons

by Dr Dij In reply to bcc rude?

to CYA in case of incompetant co-worker, I bcc my boss so he can see the odd stuff this co-worker is doing, and will be on my side if it gets mentioned to him.

I send out a newsletter monthly and I send it to myself with all the recipients in the BCC, very good idea.

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Use Outlook signature to educate on the use of the Bcc field

by accidental techie In reply to other reasons

Below is an Outlook signature I use to reply to people who put too many unrelated email addresses in the To: or Cc: fields. Feel free to copy and make it one of your signature. Then it takes only a few clicks to educate them. Maybe we can educated the well meaning emailers who just don't realize the problem their emails can create.

I'd like to encourage you to hide all email addresses. You might not realize the implication of putting many unrelated email addresses in the To: field of a message. The below information might be helpful to you.
In an effort to keep our email system virus-free and as spam free as possible, we request that our email addresses are NOT included in To: or Cc: field when the message is sent to a large group of unrelated individuals. When email addresses are visible in a message, all individuals listed are exposed to more opportunities to receive a viruses or to have their address used for spam.

Even if the addresses do not appear to be visible (just their name is visible) in the To: or CC: field, THEY ARE IN THE MESSAGE HEADER and anyone who knows where they are, e.g. designers of viruses, can use them.

Some viruses work by sending themselves not only to the people listed in your contact folder but also to ANY email addresses visible in any To: or Cc: field anywhere in any message headers on your computer.

Group email can be accomplished by listing all the email addresses in the Bcc: field and putting only your own email address in the To: field. Email addresses in the Bcc: field are NOT visible to other individuals in the group but everyone in the Bcc: field still gets the message. This is standard practice within our office when we send a message to a group of people.

But be aware, some Internet Service Providers (ISP) do limit the number of addresses you can put in the Bcc field, usually 10 to 20. We also utilize a Mail List program for messages to very large groups.

Individual messages to us or to a few in a working group of individuals are not a problem.

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Picking your battles

by JayMiller25 In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

While users don't practice etiquette in their emails, I don't think it's worth focusing alot of attention on. I'm sure there are alot more important issues from an IT perspective rather than if Betty in Accounting used an annoying font in her email.
Just my thoughts.

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e-mail as part of the Corporate image?

by penguinvitamins2 In reply to Picking your battles

You might be right to say that there are more important things to focus on. So why should employees waste time fiddling with all sorts of personalised settings in e-mail. Is it really required to establish some sort of personal identity in the organisation by using e-mail fonts, colors etc in ones messages?

As you can appreciate e-mail, if used to communicate to clients is part of organisation image branding. So propose an e-mail message standard. It should do a lot of good for the corporation.

With regards :-)

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BCC and the "Need To Know" rule

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

I agree with comments elsewhere that the BCC is critical for all distribution lists which are not maintained on an Exchange server as separate units, but am concerned about what sounds like misuse of company systems for personal and/or political purposes.

Further, the BCC tool is properly applied within a business context to do exactly that which you decried as "rude" -- the notificaion of supervision or other concerned paries that a memo of X content was sent to Y individual. Is this not the exact function that the BCC was performing with less bandwidth, storage and even less productivity loss?

Lastly, but definately MOST importantly, the primary rule to apply in email (as in all document distribution) is "Need To Know". NEVER send a copy of a memo to someone as a CYA. ONLY copy those people who truly need to know. If you miss someone, they can always be added later! Every person who receives a message becomes responsible for its maintenance and destruction. This may, or may not be regulated by government rules or laws depending on your industry or departmental function. (Do the names Enron and Anderson Consulting ring a bell?)

Remember, that although it may not be recognized as such by a large cross-section of your workforce, in the final analysis email is a FORMAL business communication method that is subject to all the same rules and regulations that paper and other documetns are.

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