Thursday, June 5, 2008

E-mail Etiquette

One of the things I love about having a computer is getting e-mail from my friends BUT it also has a downside in that not everyone plays nice when it comes to forwarding e-mail. So today I thought I would share a little info on e-mail etiquette,

When you forward an e-mail PLEASE use BCC, clean out old addresses at the top, the advertising and the avg/norton alerts at the bottom. You say you don't know how? Well if a visually impaired non techy like me can do it then so can you!

BCC: In Outlook Express you will find the BCC and CC options by clicking "View" in the toolbar at the top of the e-mail page. The drop down box will have a line that says "all headers" click that and like magic the BCC and CC appear. In Hotmail the option is at the top and a little to the right. When you use BCC there is NO need to enter ANY names in the "to" box. All the addressees can be added to the BCC line and your recipients will see "undisclosed recipient" in the "to" line of their message. Unless this is a business related message that you are sending then there is no need for me or anyone else to know who else got this message! Various e-mail programs have their settings in different places but there is usually a "settings" format that allows customizing.

Clean out old addresses! I've gotten some e-mails that have had as many as 75 old addresses from 6 or 7 people who have forwarded without cleaning out that info. When you forward a message you can edit and delete almost anything. Scroll to the bottom of the old addresses. While holding the cursor down, drag it over the old addresses to the top. Then right click over the darkened area and hit delete. IF the delete option is greyed out - and sometimes it is - just go back to the bottom of the addresses and hold your finger on the backspace key until you reach the top. It make take a few seconds but it is worth it to future recipients.

Advertising: E-mail's almost always come with advertising at the bottom. These can and should be cleaned out in the same way that you clean out old addresses. The ones that include animated pictures of cats, elephants etc. can usually be removed by dragging the cursor over the full line then right click and hit "cut". OR you can sometimes remove the image if the images are listed at the top of the e-mail as in hotmail program.

AVG/Norton Security notices: These are cleared exactly the same way as above. Sometimes they are found as an attached text file. Just right click the text file and hit "remove" or delete.

Removing these annoying items can greatly redice the size of the e-mail. I recently received two emails that came in at 161kb and 57kb. After I cleaned them up, they went out at 97kb and 6.5kb! If the average one page text document is about 4kb, then that is equivelent to 16 and 12 1/2 pages of JUNK! Not all computers or internet connections are fast. I have an older PC and DSL connection. Cleaning up the e-mails makes everything move faster.

Do you have problems sending and receiving pictures in emails? In Outlook Express go to Tools - Options - Send. Near the bottom you will find "send messages" with several options. Does the HTML box have a check in it? Check it if it doesn't, then open the "HTML Settings" tab to the right. In the box that opens you will find a setting that says "Send pictures with messages" Put a check in the corresponding box and then hit OKAY to close the "HTML Settings" box. Click the "APPLY" tab if it is not greyed out. If it is greyed out then hit "OKAY"

While you are in the send dialogue box, you should also go into "Plain Text Settings" and uncheck the Indent Text box to avoid those nasty >>>(greater than symbols) in sending emails. Click OKAY in Plain Text Settings box then hit APPLY - OKAY on options box.

Now for receiving pictures in messages; Click on Tools - Options - Security.
Look at the line underneath Download images; "Block images and other content in HTML e-mail" The box should NOT have a check in it. If it does then uncheck it. Click APPLY (if it is greyed out just click OKAY). This should allow the vast amount of pictures to be sent and received.

These may be common sense solutions to some of you, but you'd be surprised how many people don't understand the problem or know how to remove or fix these simple issues.

Coloured text and fancy fonts are also an issue for many, but especially for those of us who are visually impaired. Black on plain white/cream background is by far the easiest and least strenuous on the eyes. Pink, red, yellow, orange, green, grey, purple, blue and their various shades should be avoided. I prefer e-mail in "rich text" and the fonts that I find easiest to read are: "Lucida Sans Unicode"; "Times New Roman" and "Arial". You can change fonts in the toolbar under "format". I'm not trying to be a wet blanket here - I'm all for creativity - I'm just being honest and telling you what is the easiest for most to read.

You should also be aware that anyone using a voice activated system to read their e-mail has to put up with the voice reading ALL those old addresses and greater than symbols. The systems can't skip to the text. They also inform the listener every time that a different font or text colour is used. It can take 10 minutes to read a message that would have taken three minutes had it been cleaned up. I know that not everyone knows or sends e-mails to a blind person but the fact is that you don't know WHO is sending your address(es) on to other people. If someone was so inclined, they could also take all those old addresses and have you and all of the others on dozens of junk mail lists within minutes.

There is one more thing that I'd like to talk about and that is e-mail content. Know the person that you are forwarding to. If they aren't into a subject don't waste their time with your likes and beliefs. Case in point; I am an agnostic, pacifist living in Canada. Therefor anything to do with religion (aside from humour), any branch of the military, guns, USA Patriotism or who to vote for/against in the November election are of ABSOLUTELY NO interest to me and will AUTOMATICALLY be deleted! I don't appreciate or tolerate anything that is racist, bigoted or propaganda of religious, political or social issues in nature. I break most chain letters and often remove the part about how many people to forward it to before I send it on. The sentimental/pull at the heart strings type generally get deleted as well.

So what does that leave you ask? LOTS! There is all kinds of humour and interesting info out there. So please keep the e-mails coming. Just remember to clean them up and think before you send them to everyone on your list.

Please feel free to send this page to anyone you may think could use the info. Send it BCC even if it is only to one person - they won't know!

Thanks for reading and hopefully learning something! My eyes and I appreciate it!



Michelle said...

i wholeheartedly agree, dn. i also think it's important to note that it can be very overwhelming to receive so many forwarded emails that contain chain mail that might even be sweet stuff like blessings and then encouragement to send to other friends for good karma, etc.

#1, it's frustrating to have to scroll down and down in the email, sifting through the email trail of who it was originally emailed to and then after that and after that, to get to the real message. It doesn't take that much effort to just delete that stuff before forwarding the message to us.

#2, assuming that all your friends WANT to receive those kinds of forwards in the first place. I get so many of those kinds of things from my family and it clogs my inbox. I'm also not interested in chain mail like that. And even when it's not chain mail and just sweet messages, funny messages, cute pictures of babies and teddy bears, it's still just unnecessary to ME.
ESPECIALLY when so many of those emails are religious. It's like, don't assume I'm of the same faith. I just want people to ask me first before sending me so many of those emails.

dnsyl57 said...

Thank you Michelle! It's nice to know I'm not alone in this uphill battle.

I think that most people just don't realize that they CAN clean up e-mails before they are sent! Either that or they just don't care!

Hopefully a link to this post will find it's way into the inbox of those who really need to read it!