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E mail etiquette and common sense

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E mail etiquette and common sense

E mail etiquette and common senseInternet mail, or e mail has it's own etiquette. Ignoring it can mean the difference between success and failure to get your message read.
  • It's so easy! Just type in your message and click on the 'send' button or find it in the drop down menu and off your message goes - to your mother, to your boss, to the webmaster of the most awesome website you've ever visited!
  • And the thrill of receiving an email from the editor of your favorite online magazine!
  • But wait. If you're new to the world of instant 'mail' via the internet, or if you've been around awhile but seem to have missed a few basic lessons along the way, there are a few rules that will help make your email more effective, or, at least not obnoxious!
  • Email has probably made the biggest impact on business and personal communications since the Pony Express, but it's easy to misunderstand the nature of it.
  • Strictly speaking, it's not mail. It's not memos flying back and forth and it's not refrigerator notes. It's not a phone call; it's not a formal letter, nor is it necessarily interactive.
  • One assumption that many people make is that the person on the other end reads all email immediately. Some people get hundreds of emails each day, and have to set aside a particular portion of their day to sort through the messages, deleting what isn't important or interesting - or that doesn't demand an answer.
  • If you want your email read, use a comprehensive, specific subject line. Cutesy is fine for a good friend and boring is even ok for a business memo (if it's a timely topic).
  • If you change the topic in the text, change it also in the subject line.
  • Don't send chatty but pointless email, unless you're absolutely sure that the receiver has time and is interested in a conversation.
  • When you do have something to say, be brief. The receiver may not have time to read a long email, or may not be interested in your topic at all, or may not be impressed with your delivery.
  • Don't forward 'alerts', stories, sermons, poems or news releases, unless you're absolutely sure the receiver wants to read them. NEVER forward more than one or two of a 'newsletter'. If a person isn't subscribed to it, the chances are that it doesn't interest him.
  • SHOUTING in upper case letters or excessive use of exclamation points ('bangs') are never acceptable and will usually get your email trashed without so much as a glance if you use them in the subject line, but don't use them in the text either; they're rude.
  • Be normally polite. If you wouldn't normally grunt 'nope' to a request to someone's face, don't do it via email, either. An email is not a telegram... use grammar and form.
  • Don't send HTML email unless it's asked for. HTML can't be read by all email programs or servers, and it takes longer to download. Fancy colored fonts and the like can even crash an email program. Not a good impression to make! (It also can be irritating to get what looks like a screaming web page in your mail.)
  • Always use the automated quote, but always edit it! Don't quote every word of every email when you reply. Keep it to a minimum, only so that the receiver can see at a glance what has gone on before in the conversation.
  • When you return an email, don't reply to everyone the email has been sent to, unless it's necessary. If you foward an email, and it's been forwarded to you, remove the '>' before each line. It's simple to do in most email programs; simply check your spelling and grammar; proofread. If you're writing about a subject that could be misunderstood, let it cool for a period before reading it again. Don't intentionally flame anyone.
  • Remember that email is not necessarily private! If you wouldn't say something to a person's face, it's best to not say it in an email. Your boss, the server's administrator, the person you're emailing to, and anyone with access to any of those computers - yours, the receiver, the boss, etc, has access to your email. It's not uncommon for people to copy and paste entire texts from an email into a forum, usenet or listserv where thousands of others can read it. Don't take a chance.
  • If you use a signature, keep it short and relevant. ASCII pictures and ultra long signatures can make your email feel intrusive. Be especially careful about this if you're posting to lists or forums.
  • Since the internet by definition is international, intercultural, and 'inter' almost everything else, be very careful of offending others. Religious, racial, political and cultural remarks, even made in perfect innocense, can offend, hurt feelings and anger someone, somewhere.
  • Sign your name. Just because it's your account, doesn't mean that it's actually you writing the email. Also, it's just good manners.
  • Don't spam! That awful four letter word makes more enemies than friends, so why would you want to use it? Even when it's targeted the returns are low. Most people resent unsolicited advertising, especially if they have to wait for it to download.
  • The worst is to send spam in HTML. Unless you're into making a lot of enemies real fast, don't do it.
  • Do use emoticons - those helpful ASCII characters that symbolize a smile or frown or other expressions.
    Here are a few:
    :) or :-) - smile
    ;) or ;-) - wink
    :P Sticking out your tongue (only to close friends!)
    :( or :-( - frown or sad face
    @>->- - Kudos or congratulations (a rose or flower)
  • Email will probably never replace the phone or snail mail, but it fills a need in our world for quick, direct, enjoyable and even intense communication with people around the world, or in the next room.
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