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been done in email messages. If your words are important enough to write, they should be important
enough to write properly. It will say a lot about you.
3. Unless a joke is fall-on-the-foor belly-laughing hilarious, don’t forward it to anyone. Inboxes are already
clogged with spam and don’t need to be fed with dumb jokes that have been around the world ffteen
times. As a general rule, about one in every two hundred jokes is worth passing on. Let the others rest
in peace in the dustbin.
4. The same goes for urban legends and chain letters. Will all those who have actually received a dollar
from Bill Gates for every email sent, please stand up? If you’re not sure about the veracity of a propa-
gated email rumour, pay a visit to www.snopes.com and they will confrm it as fact or fction. Stop the
madness and fle them with the dumb jokes as above.
5. If you’re still convinced that what you have received is worth forwarding, make a little effort to clean up
messages before you send them on. It’s a dead giveaway that you simply smacked the Forward but-
ton, if your subject line looks something like this: Subject: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: Fwd: (no subject). The
subject line, as well as the rest of the information being forwarded, are – get this – fully editable by you!
Take a very brief moment to delete all useless text, addresses of hundreds of strangers, and ads for
web-based services with lively smiley faces at the bottom. Get rid of anything that isn’t needed or is
trivial. There are even handy little programs that will remove the thousands of carets (>>>>>>>>) which
accumulate with each forwarding that make an email look like a cross stitch pattern. If you don’t know
how, ask somebody, please.
6. If you’re sending a message to lots of people, do them all a favour by concealing their contacts. Use
the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) option, available in all email programs. When you receive a message ad-
dressed to ‘Undisclosed Recipients’, you know the sender has had the courtesy to cloak the identities
of all the recipients. Put an end to those endless paragraphs showing you all who have gone before.
7. Resist the supremely annoying urge to request a delivery receipt for every email you send. Chances
are, you don’t even know you’re doing it, but your friends will soon tell you. If this tool is not used se-
lectively, we all tend to say ‘NO!’ to that irritating box that pops up, asking if you want to acknowledge
receipt of an email. If you don’t know how to disable this, ask somebody, please.
8. Craft a meaningful subject line. In many cases, the content of the subject line will determine whether
an email gets read or trashed. ‘Photos of me on top of Kilimanjaro’ will give me greater confdence in
opening attachments, than simply ‘Pics’ or ‘Hi’. Put in as much relevant detail as you can without being
9. We all love to receive photographs, so have the heart to resize digital photos before sharing them. No-
body likes to receive images that take hours and many crashes to download, when all you can see at
the end is part of an ear that could be printed as a billboard. Most photographic programs have an op-
tion to automatically resize photos for email; this is also built into Windows XP (right click on any image,
select Send To -> Mail Recipient -> Make Images Smaller). No more excuses for massive fle sizes.
Better still, upload entire collections to a web album host on the internet, and send invitations or links
for friends to visit at their leisure.
10. Try to keep all fle sizes small, not just for photos. Video clips, PowerPoint presentations, music fles,
scans, etc., generally mean large fles. File size is of no consequence to the broadbanders among us,
but not everyone is fortunate enough to have a high speed connection; some still have to dial up on
their cranky landlines (which don’t work when it rains) and other poor souls have to use their mobile
phones – gulp – as the modem and achieve speeds of a slug on valium.
11. Respond promptly to messages, even if it’s only to acknowledge receipt. Email is supposed to be con-
cise, with a quick turnaround; short bursts of communication are better than lengthy tomes. People are
busy – don’t add to their information overload.
12. When replying, include only as much of the original email as is necessary to provide a context. Nothing
is more frustrating than to have your own 5-page message quoted back to you in its entirety with the
response, “Me, too” or “Thanks”.
Email is a more casual medium than snail mail, while at the same time being less personal than a phone
call. This informality comes with risks; you can’t see facial expressions or hear subtle changes in voice to
indicate mood, nor do you get an immediate response. With email, it’s harder to get your point across, and
easier to be misunderstood. So, be courteous and respectful by following these simple guidelines and you
may fnd that your friends will think about removing you from their blacklists.
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