What Does This Mean to Me, Laura?


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What Does This Mean to Me, Laura?

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A short lesson in Netiquette

27th May 2008

Everyone has at least one; that person (friend, family member or coworker) who thinks they have to forward every last joke, LOLCat photo or (usually fake) virus warning to absolutely everyone in their address book. And, often they have no clue about how to use the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) field, so that people you don’t even know now have your email address, to boot. I am sincerely hoping that none of you are that person. If you are, please don’t tell me; just stop and all will be forgiven.

However much we might like these people, it can be difficult to explain that they are wasting our time or sending bad information (be sure to check all virus warnings at Snopes.com). We don’t want to hurt their feelings. My own experiences with this sort of thing have been difficult; not long ago, Friend #1 was sending all sorts of things to everyone in her address book and she was one of those people who didn’t know how to use the BCC field. As a result, my email address was exposed to an awful lot of people I didn’t know. Rather than confronting her, I automatically started filtering everything she sent into my junk folder. I casually mentioned this to Friend #2, who may have passed this on to Friend #1; guess who gets ZERO email from Friend #1 now? Ok, yes, I’m a geek. Personal relationships are hard.

But, there is hope for others. Merlin Mann, the creator of the famous 43 Folders site, has created a page you can send to these folks. Called Thanks. No, it explains tactfully to your erring friend/family member/coworker in a non-confrontational way that you would prefer not to get any more emails like the one you just received from them. I wish I’d had this earlier. No guarantees that my friend still wouldn’t be offended, but at least it would have softened the blow.

If you’d like more resources for dealing with email Netiquette, check out this article at Lifehacker.