Dear Fellow E-Mail User,
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Thank you for thinking of others when you send and receive
E-mail is, hands-down, the greatest communications tool
since the telephone. But its power makes it easy to abuse. You may
already be abusing it, and not know it. Here are a few tips that,
when followed, can make everybody's e-mailing experience more
- Please ask before you start
forwarding me things. It seems silly, but this common
courtesy goes a long way to reducing the amount of junk mail you
and I must deal with every day.
- I don't need some
anonymously written poem or heart-wrenching story to remind me
how important friends are. I know you are my friend. If you
want to show me you care, send me a sincere personal note to let
me know how you are doing, or a picture of the kids, the pet,
I'd rather get that than an anonymous poem any day.
- Please don't send me a
message that instructs, begs or demands that I forward it on.
You may not mean it that way, but these mandates imply that you
do not trust me to decide for myself what is worthy of
forwarding and what is not. I prefer to decide on my own.
- I rely exclusively on valid
sources, such as well-established web sites and the media, to
keep me informed of things that may harm me or my family.
Despite the fact that you can quickly and easily reach several
people, there are no controls on e-mail to make it valid and
reliable, thus I automatically discount any "news" that comes
via e-mail. If the information you are sharing does not contain
reliable sources that can be easily verified, please don't share
it with me.
- Copy and paste the text you
want to forward into a new message. Just hitting "forward"
often adds indents or annoying ">>" characters to let me know
what's old text and what's new. The resulting message is
confusing and difficult to read. If the message already has them
in it, please take them out before you send it to me. If its not
worth the effort, maybe you shouldn't be forwarding it.
- You don't have to forward a
message exactly as you received it. If it contains some
stuff you like and other stuff you don't, delete the parts you
don't like and forward only the parts you really want to share.
This way, I don't have to wade through a bunch of junk to find
what you really want to share with me.
- Please delete any old
e-mail addresses that were in the message when you got it.
Forwarding a message leaves the headers in place, revealing the
e-mail addresses of everyone who has received and/or sent the
message in the past. I don't really want to know who got it
before I did and I don't want my e-mail address distributed in
this manner. I'm sure you don't, either.
- Use the Blind Copy (BC:)
feature of your e-mail, instead of the To: or CC: fields to
send a message to multiple recipients. BC: prevents me from
seeing the addresses of other people to whom you've sent the
same message. This keeps all of us safe and helps us control who
has our address.
- Don't send a questionable
message "just in case." You have one of the most powerful
research tools in the world literally at your fingertips. It
only takes a minute to check a letter out and you don't need to
be an academician or researcher to do it. Three excellent sites
for research are BreakTheChain.org (www.breakthechain.org),
the Urban Legends Reference Pages (Snopes.com)
- Please don't send me
warnings about computer viruses. I installed anti-virus
software on my computer and keep it updated regularly. It was
well worth the small investment for the peace of mind I now
have. Most virus warnings circulating via e-mail are hoaxes
designed to poke fun at people who don't know better. By keeping
my software updated, I always know better.
- Please don't bother me
about a sick, dying or missing child. I don't want to seem
heartless, but most of these e-mails are hoaxes, outdated, or
contain too little information to be of any value. We all want
to help a child in need, but putting a child into a chain e-mail
can easily turn him or her into an Urban Legend, a fate I
wouldn't wish on anyone.
- I will not sign any
petition that comes to me via e-mail, nor will I pass it on
- no matter how noble the cause. E-petitions are often
near-sighted, half-hearted efforts that do not consider the
long-term drawbacks of e-mail as a tool for activism. They have
no validity and little or no political influence. In addition,
many unscrupulous folks "farm" e-petitions and other chain
letters for e-mail addresses for their own gain.
- Don't feel compelled to
share with me every joke you receive. There are many
"joke-a-day" lists to which I can subscribe and get the same
jokes. Also, I've been on the 'net long enough to have seen the
same jokes numerous times. Unless it is absolutely, positively,
hands-down, without-a-doubt the funniest, rip-roaringest,
knee-slappingest joke you've ever seen, please don't forward it
- Please ignore messages that
tell you to forward them on to X number of people to get a prize
or earn cash. Businesses do not use e-mail to give away
money or products. It won't happen and it's embarrassing when I
see my friends falling for it.
- Please don't forward any
e-mail I send you without my permission. I shared with you
because I trust you. I don't want my opinions sent to anyone I
do not personally choose, nor do I want to risk being mistakenly
attributed with something I've sent you. Please don't put me at
I appreciate that you count me among your friends and regular
contacts. The tips above are intended to make us all better users of
e-mail so our communication stays pleasant and enjoyable. Thank you
for letting me get that off my chest. I look forward to
corresponding with you.
A fellow e-mail user
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