E-mail faux pas

Read this before you send that message to multiple addressees

Are you an e-mail fanatic, sending and receiving forwarded messages no matter how vehemently your friends rebuke you? If you must, at least follow these simple tips to keep your recipients’ frustration level to a minimum.

No one needs to know how many friends you have, so instead of entering all of those addresses in the To: field of your e-mail program, try the Bcc: field. Bcc means "blind carbon copy," and it allows you to send e-mails to as many friends as you wish without disclosing your entire mailing list to every recipient. To use the Bcc: field you must enter one e-mail address in the To: field. Enter your own address in the To: field and save the rest for Bcc. Your friends will applaud your discretion.

In a similar vein, when forwarding e-mails, be considerate enough to remove all of the previous recipients from the headers. Leaving them on makes the file unnecessarily large and it’s also quite tedious scrolling through several hundred names before getting to a one-line message. For the hopelessly e-mail addicted, there’s another alternative.

If you’ve got a hot topic and a lot of e-mail buddies, you can start your own e-mail list free of charge. One List (www.onelist.om) and E-Groups (www. groups.com) both let you create and manage your own e-mail list free of charge. One List has a more intuitive and easy-to-manage setup process than its counterpart. Just fill out a questionnaire detailing what your list is about and answer several questions regarding how you’ll manage the list and you’re ready to go.

Of course, deciding how to attract people to your list is up to you. One List suggests that you send out invitations to your list rather than indiscriminately adding names and e-mail addresses. Both One List and E-groups append your postings with discreet advertising at the bottom of your message. The advertisements will be familiar to those of you who use Hotmail or many other free e-mail providers. It’s a small price to pay to keep in touch with your favorite Internet cohorts.

If you’d like to learn more about e-mail etiquette, check out Better, Faster Email by Joan Tunsall (Allen & Unwin, $14.95). Tunsall explains everything from using individual and group messages to opening attached documents without losing their format. She also gives practical advice: "If you are angry, never use e-mail….Even if your e-mail system lets you delete a message after you have sent it, don’t risk it; the person may read it before you have second thoughts." E-mail has the immediacy of a telephone conversation and the longevity of an official memo, so it’s always best not to write anything that you wouldn’t want repeated later.

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