Friday, October 21, 2011

No Reply Needed

Pretty much everyone uses email these days. So I thought I would share a little email advice which might save you some embarrassment and will certainly be most appreciated by mail systems administrators around the world.

To start with, whenever you get an email from a "friend" which ends with something like send this to everyone you know you should immediately seek out the delete key and use it. Almost without exception, these messages are a lame attempt to get you and everyone you have in your personal address book to spread a message.

Just like chain letters in the old days, it may be a get rich quick scheme, promise good things will happen or conversely, threaten disaster if you don't send it on. It might warn of a computer virus that will eat your computer or claim to be a fund raiser for a missing child. The odds are it is a hoax. I discussed this once before in another column called the Truth Fairy so I won't go over old ground. Check it out before taking any action.

Unfortunately, smart people who are wise to this colossal waste of time will often choose to let everyone know they have been had. They use the standard REPLY ALL feature. This will send the message back to everyone on the distribution list and generally sparks an email storm as others on the list then do the same.

This frequently happens in the corporate environment as well. One employee sends a note to a large distribution list, perhaps unintentionally, and everyone on the list feels compelled to inform the sender of the mistake. But instead of sending a REPLY, the REPLY ALL option is used and the storm begins. Each person now receives another message and, in a well meaning effort to avoid further mistakes, does a REPLY ALL to let everyone know what is happening. Ironically, people often use REPLY ALL to specifically tell people they should not use REPLY ALL.

Don't forward messages before checking them out. If they are a hoax or mistake, limit your reply to the single person who sent it to you, or simply hit delete.

One last tip. It is often desirable to hide the names on the distribution list. Using the BCC field in lieu of the TO or CC fields will have the effect of sending the message to everyone on the list but only showing each person their email address. When using this form, there is no way for anyone to reply to all the recipients.

Captain Joe

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