Email Etiquette

Sender Etiquette

1. The subject line is all important. Please make your subject pertinent to what’s actually within the email. There is very little worse than dozens of “IMPORTANT” subjects. Besides most email programs allow you to specify the importance of the message as a flag, so the IMPORTANT is not really necessary.
2. Keep your message short and to the point. Shorter is virtually always better.
3. Link to outside information. This is the internet. So rather than including the entire article in your email, pictures and all, just put in a link. It’s easier on my inbox and much quicker to download.
4. Stay on topic. If you want to discuss two different issues it might be better to send two emails, especially if the email is being sent to a lot of people. That way you can also send only the information necessary to each group of people.
5. Watch your attachment size. Some people are still on dialup connections, and getting a one megabyte attachment can be very annoying. For very large attachment you might use a service like Xdrive or Freedrive to store the attachment and include a link in your email.
6. Signatures are cool. Four to seven lines is fine. Links are fine, but it’s tacky to include affiliate and pay-to-surf programs (not to mention some spam filters will delete your message). Please no images or HTML.
7. Use the importance flag. Most email programs allow you to set the importance of the email and this is far more useful than saying “IMPORTANT” or “CRITICAL” in the message line.
8. Use “Bcc” (Blind Carbon Copy). This is an excellent way to send to lots of people without giving out all of your friends email addresses to everyone on the planet.

Reply Etiquette

1. Be careful with the REPLY ALL option. I’ve found that sometimes, especially in the corporate world, people send emails to way too many people. This seems to be a sort of “cover your butt” approach which leads to people getting emails they do not need. Just be sure and edit the list to only those people who actually need the reply.
2. Be very cautious when replying to a distribution list. Not everyone on the list wants to get dozens of “rotfl” and “thanks” messages.
3. Change the reply subject. If you are adding additional information to an email, it might be useful to change the subject. So instead of “re: IMPORTANT” you might change it to “My comments on your message” or something like that.
Receiver Etiquette
1. Only subscribe to those newsletters which you actually read. Otherwise, you are just sending useless data over the internet, which increases communications and server loads for no good reason.
2. Reply in a reasonable time frame. Giving a reply of “sure” for a message that you received six months ago is not very useful. A week is probably the longest for non-critical messages. If you are going to take longer than a week, it may be best not to reply at all.
3. Take advantage of autoresponders. For things like guestbook entries, email forms, contests and so on, nothing beats an autoresponder to take some of the load of sending an acknowledgement back to the sender. This makes it very easy for you and lets the sender know that you at least got the message.
4. Don’t flame. I know exactly where you’d like to tell that person to go, but resist the temptation. Flame wars are not pretty.