Email Etiquette #3

Forwarding Emails
It’s best to almost always consider this a no go zone. Nearly all people who do it, do it badly.
“If 10000 Christians sign this my friend will eat his underpants”.

Much of this type of stuff is just SPAM. I like to use Snopes to check if an evil forwarded email is actually true or not. If it’s not I spam back all the stupid people who signed it and send them the link for the snopes page... but I'm a pretty mean guy.

If you must send an email with a link to a funny site (or whatever it is that is so hilarious), make sure you have a clear Subject line like “Link for you” and preferably a description of why you want someone to look at it.

You can read the rest of my Email Etiquette series here.



The Pook said... 10/02/2008 12:07 pm  

Couldn't agree more! This is my pet hate. Memes and chain letters are like high level viruses clogging up bandwidth. Unlike their low-level computer virus cousins, they not only infect your computer but your mind as well, especially the ones that try to lay some religious guilt trip on you. If you don't forward this schmalzy collection of cute pictures and Walt Disney thoughts you are an unfeeling, uncaring faithless wretch in danger of losing your salvation!

I work on the principle of absolutely never ever forward anything to anyone, anytime. Well, almost never ever...

Claire :) said... 10/30/2008 3:22 pm  

Yeah, this one bugs me but in a different way - I think we know general forwarding of email is a bad thing. What I dislike is when I forward emails which are work-related because I'm aware someone missed out but I'm not sure who, and better to receive something twice than not at all if it's important.

I think that's okay, but this comes back to the subject headers thing. If I'm just bulk-forwarding to a group exploder, say, then if people get it twice they can just ignore the second one (my principal is to always ignore the one with the smallest total file size if different - I'm prepared to have extra header information on the chance that it might actually be more information).

What's a problem is when I want to ask someone something about an email, so I forward them the previous one for context. I tend to amend the subject line appropriately, but not rename it entirely, so that it's clear what it's going to be about (eg "FW: meeting at 10am - do I need to go?"). However I find this tends to lead to such emails being put on "the backburner" by my intended recipent(s) as they often don't realise that they do need to read it, assuming it is just a general forward.

What's the solution, Master Mike? Remove the "FW" won't work because then it does just look like the same email again, at least the FW implies something might have changed.. Change the subject line completely to "About that email from so-and-so"?
Meh, actually no, I know what the problem is. What this boils down to is that the people that I tend to send these emails from have a "Claire-filter" where stuff from me automatically goes on the back-burner. And I don't even send rubbish!! Bah!
Verbosity is my downfall :)

mike said... 10/30/2008 8:21 pm  

Woot long comment.

I can't say I agree with amending the subject line. (This messes up email for an email client like gmail which keeps emails with a common subject line in single conversation).

Better to go back and find the email someone originally sent then reply to that email with your question or clarification in the body of the email.

As for emails being on the backburner. I have found that if you include a due date for the task this helps it to be completed rather than ignored (see Email Etiquette #5).

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