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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Electronic Correspondence

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

I agree with a lot of your points, but not all. In my business there are two kinds of emails, and not always "internal/external." They might be internal, external(confidential) and external(nonconfidential). I'm sure most businesses are like that. Your internal stuff might be more informal, your external stuff to your customers might be confidential, and your external stuff to a trade association, the government, or posting on a list are nonconfidential. So, I think you should write emails with the care you would if you were writing on paper. And things like a bcc are fine. I don't think anyone should assume you are posting a public document or sending a confidential document and nobody else received a copy. You wouldn't think so on a letter, would you?

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

a lot of what you list, with what I added is exactly what's email lists and newsgroups require.

thier policy / ettiquette page:

Mozilla Forum Etiquette
Ground Rules

There are a few ground rules for participation in forums hosted by Please respect these rules, and each other.

Be civil.

No personal attacks. If you feel the need to flame someone, please do it in private e-mail. Do not feel compelled to defend your honor in public.
Stay on topic.

These are generally high-traffic groups, so please pay attention to the topic of your messages, and check that it still relates to the charter of the forum to which you are posting.
No crossposting.

It is almost never appropriate to send the same message to two mailing lists or newsgroups. Please don't do it. Or, if you must, make sure you set the Followup-To and Reply-To fields to ensure that replies go only to one, not to both.
example: Newsgroup: netscape.public.seamonkey
Newsgroup: netscape.public.browser
FollowUp-To: netscape.public.browser
Subject: XPFE browser?

It is never appropriate to send the same message to two forums when one of those forums has general in its name.
No advocacy.

These groups are for discussions about the Mozilla source code. As such, discussions about which operating system is better, or whether one toolkit is better than another, or whether Microsoft is the root of all evil, are not relevant. There are many forums for discussing such issues on Usenet; please have such discussions there instead of on the Mozilla forums. Might we recommend:

* comp.infosystems.www.advocacy
* comp.os.linux.advocacy
* comp.os.os2.advocacy
* comp.sys.amiga.advocacy
* comp.sys.mac.advocacy
* comp.unix.advocacy
* gnu.misc.discuss

Ignore spammers.

Spam is a blight upon the face of the net. Nobody likes it. However, it is hard to avoid. Despite our best efforts, you will occasionally see spam on the Mozilla mailing lists and newsgroups. If you feel the need to flame the spammer, do not CC the list. Complaining about spam in public increases noise, but not signal. It may make you feel better, but it doesn't help. (For info on fighting spam effectively, check out
No anonymous messages.

If you have something that you are offering for others to read, you should be willing to attach your name to it, and to give people the ability to reply to you privately about it, in case they feel that a public reply would be inappropriate.

So-called address munging is frowned upon. Your return address should be replyable. If you want to avoid spam, use mail filters, or don't post. Other alternatives are not welcome here.
No large attachments.

Do not send binary attachments, including screen shots, and especially including screen shots of textual dialog boxes. Many people read these messages through slow network connections; try to be respectful of them. If you have a large file that you would like to distribute, put it on a Web page and announce the URL instead of attaching it.
Trim your follow-ups.

Do not quote the entire content of the message to which you are replying. Include only as much as is necessary for context. Remember that if someone wants to read the original message, they can; it is easily accessible. A good rule of thumb is, don't include more quoted text than new text.
Post HTML at your own risk.

Keep in mind that not everyone uses mail or news readers that can easily display HTML messages. Consequently, you will reach a larger audience if you post in plain-text. Many people simply ignore HTML messages, because it takes a nontrivial amount of effort to read them.
Report bugs in Bugzilla, not in the Mozilla forums

If you encounter a bug with Mozilla, please take the time to file a report in Bugzilla about it. Mozilla developers do not all have time to follow all the Mozilla-related forums on a regular basis, and if you just post a bug report to a newsgroup or mailing list then it may not reach anyone who can actually do anything about the bug. By reporting the bug through Bugzilla you ensure that it will receive a higher level of attention, and will be tracked along with other bugs. Please also read the Bugzilla etiquette page.
Identify your subject matter.

Not everyone has time reading all forum postings. To ensure that your message reach the right people at timely manner, identify your subject matter clearly in the subject line. Subjects like a question and Mozilla problem are unacceptable.
No unsubscribe messages.

Unfortunately, this bears repeating. See How To Subscribe.
No test messages.

Please do not send test messages to the newsgroups except netscape.public.mozilla.test. The test newsgroup has no corresponding mailing list.

Posting Conventions

In addition to the ground rules, there are some posting conventions that you should follow. Posting conventions may vary from forum to forum, so you should read past postings to get a feel of what is expected from you before posting.

Top-posting vs bottom-posting

Some people like to put reply after the quoted text, some like it the other way around, and still some prefer interspersed style. Debates about which posting style is better have lead to many flame wars in the forums. To keep forum discussion friendly, please follow the general preference, which is bottom-posting (with the exception of the accessibility forum, which is top-posting).
Public but not for end users

All newsgroups hosted by are for contributors only. Use user self-help forums for user support.

Please do not complain about the word public in newsgroup names. The word was originally used to remind Netscape staff that these forums are open to the general public. It was an unfortunate choice that most developers have no control over. Please don't argue about the naming when you are directed to other forums..

Learn more about Usenet newsgroups and Usenet etiquette at the Usenet Info Center.

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by Htos1 In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

I agree 100%.This post is a model of my email etiqette.

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email etiquette

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

A few of these I think are valid, but he bulk of them sound more like personal pet peeves than misuse of the system. In any case the administrator of the system does have some control of how the email system is configured.

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I could only agree a 1000%

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

Your account of the email misuses is true in every organisation using email as a means of official communication (which could include any of - unwanted, unsolicited, a combo of these words).

Today I spend more time reading someone else's email - since I am CC-ed, than I spend time reading mail genuinely intended or seeking my responses !!

I also find a lot of the email users like to forward both religious and boss centric communication, which is not only annoying but consumes so much of space on the Server storage front.

While there is no compulsion to resort to email snarls, most of us carry out this form of assault without realising that the face on the other side of your email aint gonna enjoy your company from that instant on...

What I always tell my users is - email is not a heartless or brainless tool, so when u send out an email, use both !!

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You said a communication tool

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

You are probably too young to remember the days when Memorandums were typed with carbon copies and blind copies sent on paper (gasp) to everyone who was required to read it. Very time consuming going through your in-tray but you did have a suitable copy which you could write notes on and follow up on.

E-mail is just such communication which requires your attention, feedback or even followup. It remains a corporate means of communication which people use to get a message around. It does have the ability to be time consuming and a waste but even in those dark days a lot of "spam" or junk mail arrived at your desk. No different than with current email.

Therefore my point is - e-mail is an official form of communication and should be treated like a typed or handwritten memorandum. If a policy contains that message the battle is won.

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How about reply etiquette?

by Jan de Ruiter In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

I did not read all 64 entries, but I did not come
across any entry about replying.
The thing that annoys me the most is when I send
someone a mail with a question, I can wait for
days or even weeks without getting a reply.
When I ask why, I get different responses:
1. I don't know the answer
2. I forwarded the question to someone else, and
I cannot help if he doesn't answer
3. I don't understand the question
4. I don't have time for it now, i will look into
the matter later.

In cases 1, 3 and 4 a short mail reply with the
reason for not handling the mail would be enough
to take away the irritation.
In case 2 a CC to me with the forward would let
me know who to contact next.

I use email as means of communication.
When I need an answer right away, I use the telephone. When the person works close by, I go
to him/her in person.
But when he/she is busy, or when the question
is not that urgent, I use mail.
In the first two forms of communication it is
rude not to answer to a question.
Why then is it so common these days NOT to respond
to an email?

In my opinion the minimal email exchange is 3
1. the question
2. the answer (or reason for not giving an answer right now)
3. thanks for the trouble of answering.

The last one is needed so the answerer will know
his answer is sufficient or not.

What does the forum think about this?

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Reply - a courtesy

by soundsolutionsinc In reply to How about reply etiquette ...

I couldn't agree more with your comments. I'd also add:

If you are CC'd on an email, you needn't respond or comment - you are being informed incidentally.

If you are BC'd on an email, NEVER reply to ALL. I had a user who wanted that ability taken away. My reply to them was that the person who gets BC'd on an email should never do so.

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Excellent article

by Aaron A Baker In reply to E-MAIL delusions WITHIN T ...

I could not agree with you more. Wether we like it or not Etiquette in what makes the world go round. If there is no Diplomacy, then there is no respect etc. I submit that these are not little bits of paper being passed around in a classroom like the kids, but are in point of fact "Mail" in all senses of the word and should be treated as such. I'm gratful that somebody has brought up the subject as there have been many times, when I received E-Mail with what I considered a serious lack of etiquette and/or forethought. But we always let it go, assuming that perhaps the person doesn't know any better or intends no harm. I noted that you indicated the CAPS are still considered screaming, I'm glad you said it.Too many time, I've seen the Caps used to Highlight and they end up doing exactly the reverse.
Finally now that it's out in the open, perhaps we can all work togeher to acheive a more professional standard in our correspondence.
After all, we are Pros aren't we?
Thank you.

Excellent Subject and very well put indeed.
My warmest regards
Aaron A Baker

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CC & BCC bad? You might want to re-think this.

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

CC performs precisely the same function in e-mail as it does on written communications. Its potential for misuse or abuse is no greater in the former than in the latter.

As for BCC, it too serves a most legitimate purpose, that of sending identical copy to multiple recipients who have no need to know the identity of the others. That is can be misused is not sufficient justification for not using it.

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