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How Not to Send an Email

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One of our viewers sent the following to me: “5 ways to make your e-mails more interesting and fun for all. I don’t know if such a list has already been sent to you, but in any case here are my views that I am sure you can mix with other peoples views to make a super-list.”

  • When sending to more than one person, ALWAYS use the Bcc: field. For those of you who don’t know, Bcc means Blind Carbon Copy, and what it does is it hides everyone’s e-mail address from one another, which is great if so-and-so #1 within your group of friends doesn’t necessarily want so-and-so #2 to know their e-mail address. Another advantage is the less e-mail addresses that can be seen, the less risk there is for them to be picked up by automatic spammers. And when that happens, we all lose.
  • Instead of sending videos as attachments, just send the video’s link on the web. Before the days of video hosting sites (like Youtube), it was common for people to manually send around videos of all kinds of stuff. Now this is not necessary, just send the link for people to click on. This is much easier for all and for various reasons. For one, your friends may only have Internet access at school (or work) and many times multi-Mb downloads are restricted. Aside from that, the computers may not have media players of any kind installed to watch such videos. However, it is very common for these computers to have their internet browsers updated so video watching via links shouldn’t be a problem. So forget the clunky attachments and just “link” it!
  • What is with all the Powerpoint presentations? Do I really HAVE to download these onto my computer to open them, only to see they are a complete waste of my time? Luckily some e-mail providers (like Gmail) allow you to open these within the browser to scan quickly through them. However many don’t, and the problems of point # 2 show up again. And boy am I tired of receiving the same “.pps” files over and over again with their smiling cats and pretty landscapes and moral whatnot. Who makes these? I have the feeling they are the same presentations since de mid-90’s, endlessly circulating from e-mail address to e-mail address in a vast circle of life, only instead of life, it’s a circle of WASTE MY TIME.
  • Urban E-mail Myths or UEM’s. If you get anything in your Inbox that seems too scary/unbelievable to be true, THAT’S BECAUSE IT PROBABLY ISN’T TRUE AT ALL. Nokia is NOT handing out cell phones, Microsoft is NOT paying anyone to receive forwarded messages and there isn’t an Indian girl with only two legs that needs an Elephant Tusk transplant. Of the few times I actually read these kinds of e-mails, it usually takes no more than 10 seconds to find out through any search engine that it is all a blatant HOAX (UEM). So, if you want your friends to believe you when you open your mouth, DON’T FORWARD ANYTHING without finding out for yourself whether or not it is true. And no, you’re not off the hook when you start your HOAX FORWARD with “I don’t know if this is true but I am letting you know anyway…”. When in doubt, DELETE THE MESSAGE, don’t send us trash in the form of Urban E-mail Myths!
  • Keep your e-mails short. Studies show the average Internet user spends about 4 (four) seconds on any given page. Our attention spans are getting dim… also we have so much other great stuff to do on-line, it just isn’t fair to take up everyone’s time with really long e-mails. Here’s a rule of thumb: If it was too long to read yourself before sending, it will be too long for others to read after sending. Short lists of content are OK, as is the occasional joke, but never a string of jokes… strings just aren’t funny. If it’s an interesting news story you want others to know about, just send the link to the story and maybe give your own (short) opinion. If you send the whole story in the e-mail… remember what I said lasted about 4 seconds? Right.. that’s the time people take before they mark your boring long e-mail as “read”. So, just send the link and one or two words, and let them be interested in reading the rest (or not).

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