Sunday, January 25, 2009

E-Mail Etiquette

I have been using E-Mail in one form or another since the mid 1980s. Yet today, I find it kind of funny that people still are struggling with how to use E-Mail. Indeed, we have seen many warnings in the news media about those who would do our economy harm by way of cyber-crime. You may have received many E-Mails - which end up clogging the Internet - promising riches through Nigerians and Taiwanese lawyers, government ministers, or long lost family members. These people just need someone of good moral fiber to help them, which could be you. These people do mean harm. Quite frankly, if you fall for the scam you believe you are getting something for nothing. I have to wonder – do enough people fall for this for these people to keep trying?

Yet, who is actually clogging my E-Mail box? Typically it is a friend or family member who has recently discovered the personal computer, the Internet and E-Mail. Not everyone wants to be warned that Bill Gates is going to pay me for sending E-Mail as a test. Nor do I really need to be falsely warned that the U.S. Postal Service is going to start charging me a fee "per E-Mail message." Considering the US Government invented the Internet, I find that one particularly amusing. Does anyone really believe that they must forward on this or any other E-Mail to keep the "chain" intact – or risk bad luck? Seems like the bad luck arrived when I received the message! But what bothers me the most, unlike operating a vehicle which requires the driver to know and abide by the rules of the road, the novice computer user does not seem to care about E-Mail etiquette.

For example, such a user has no idea about the BCC: line. They have no concern about factual correctness – they will send the message just in case! They will send spam usually of two forms.

1) Most of the message is nothing but the address list of the sender. You must scroll through the entire message to actually get any idea of the message what sender intended. Sometimes, this original message may actually be an attachment of an attachment.

2) The message is a bogus warning. It is flat out incorrect. No fact checking was done. No sources cited. It’s like having the no say whether or not I take delivery of the National Enquirer or Fox News.

This type behavior represents a greater threat to E-Mail integrity, time management, and space in your inbox. Luckily, there are resources such as Snopes that easily allow you to de-confuse your friend and point them in the right direction, gently. But, do you try? This can create anxiety. Do you let them go on believing? Do you engage in gentle stewardship of the person to become better a netizen? You can ignore the problem and hope it goes away. However, I suggest you reply to gently to correct information and how to send email to many people using BCC: feature as well as exercise a healthy dose of scrutiny before simply forwarding anything on as "factual" by doing a little research yourself.

Why? Noise. With so much unnecessary or junk E-Mail messages, I start to disregard all their E-Mail messages. When and should they send something I need to know about, I would never know.

1 comment:

  1. you are not blocking my dilbert, foxnews or.... emails lol