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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Not what it is intended for ?

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

I read through your list and at first I understood your concerns but then realized they are in fact "pet peeves" as one poster mentioned.
What made me realize that this is a pet peeve is the comment that people are using features in a way they were not intended to be used.

I am a careful crafter of e-mail and carefully, intentionally use every feature you mentioned and in the process I have misused e-mail in every way you mentioned except I dont have "return receipt" as a default because I choose which features to "misuse" each time.
And my so called misuse of email is often for legal purposes, for example an email thread with close to hundred back and forths printed as one long document which showed the unbroken thread of conversation and it was used used successfully in a legal context.
So who are you to say some somones use of a feature is a "misuse" or not as was intended ?
Where are you getting this concept of "not what it was intended for" ? was there some law passed on email use when it was first released that I missed ? Although the concept of C.C. has been around long before computers were even invented back when Carbon paper was used.
I used to fall for IT complaints usually on the basis of servers being too full but disk space is so cheap these days they are giving it away.
Before I would adopt your top 15 list of "misuses" I would switch my company to a free email or get a new email admin. If you intentionally removed C.C. from my email system you would be fired.
It is clear that your comments about emails being: "long winded" and that "formatting is a waste" indcates a narrow view of users and that narrow view is laced with contempt.

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I agree with kevin...

by I.T.Services In reply to Not what it is intended f ...

Pet peeves are what MOST of your complaints amount to. While you do raise some valid points, the way in which email is used comes down to common sense and corporate policy.

I love information technology, as well as information systems and programming, that is why I have made it my life?s work. That being said, I also have to watch out for all of my employees. Personally, I own my company and while I will listen to your complaints, I may or may not take the actions that you call for, i.e., HTML formatted email... I like it so it stays. PERIOD. My company, MY rules. Your job is to give advice on how you think things should work, mine is to provide you with the tools, time, equipment and resources to get the job done. When your advice and my requests are in conflict, (if the job is doable) I win. Why you might ask? I own the resources on which you are working. I paid for the servers, I paid for the cable, I paid for the routers, I paid for the switches, I paid for the software, and I paid for every client computer that you see.

Do I sometimes get pig-headed about ?best use?? Absolutely! Sometimes the ongoing hassles for I.T., are what makes the hours sitting in front of the computer for others in the office bearable. Believe it or not, a lot of good people DO NOT even like computers. Formatted backgrounds with ?pretty pictures? can brighten up their day, thereby creating a better working environment, meaning less frustration, meaning clearer minds, meaning LESS calls to I.T. for simple things, meaning more production, which I am all about.
Why? Because I have to pay the bills, at the end of the day keeping the lights on, the electricity flowing, the broadband connected, and yes your paychecks coming, is my responsibility.

You never know, if I grow so large on day as to make the fortune five hundred, the policies may change.

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More delusional, Kevin

by beads In reply to Not what it is intended f ...

This list of pet peeves is the rant of an email admin gone amuk. What hes really saying is that he has no control, no policies in effect or the ability to enforce them should the afore mentioned policies be broken. Sour grapes.

Start by crafting a logical and well thought out set of email policies for your organization. Get senior managements input and approval. Then and only then should you be whining about email abuse.

These peeves as they have been labled are also very usefull tools when used as they were intended. Agreed, I haven't seen a college level course on email ettiquette, perhaps the author should write one and submit it.

- beads

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