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E-Mail Tips

Email continues to be the driving force behind the growth of the Internet, more than surfing websites or e-commerce. In the "olden" days, before the Web explosion, the internet was much smaller place with certain culture that helped to keep order. That culture is still very much alive and well and the rules that we try to live by are loosely refered to as "netiquette", which is really nothing more than a little common sense. If you're new to the Internet, it is best that you take some time to get a feel for how those before you use the Web so that you can integrate quickly and get the most out of this experience. Below are some Email Tips & Netiquette to help point you in the right direction. Again, common sense and common courtesy usually rules... Enjoy!

BE BRIEF
Say it succinctly and it will have greater impact. More people will take time to read a shorter message. If you must send longer posts, you might consider an executive summary at the top for quick reading, just like many magazines do. Remember we are in a flood of information. Some people get in excess of 100 emails daily. Will yours be read? It's up to you...

NEVER SEND LARGE ATTACHEMENTS WITHOUT APPROVAL FIRST!
At the risk of sounding like a task master, don't send large attachements (over 50K) without the recipient knowing it and giving you approval. Large attachments tie up mail servers (computers and software that send and receive email around the Net) and, more importantly, your recipient has to download your email and large attachment before they can send or receive other email. The email system was not really designed for this, but can be used resonably and responsibly. Use common sense and if you need to send a lot of files or large ones transfer them through and FTP server, not an email server. Talk to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

HOW TO REPLY TO EMAIL SENT TO YOU
If you include the text of the message your are replying to, delete all but the specific points you wish to address. (Use Ctl-K to delete a line if you are using the Pine editor.) Otherwise, just refer to the person(s) and the points that are the focus of your response.

USE A DESCRIPTIVE SUBJECT LINE
Readers use the subject line to choose the messages they want to read. When you reply to a message, the subject you are replying to is automatically used as the subject of your reply with a "Re:" in front of it. Make sure that the part of the message you are replying to, still falls under that heading. Oftentimes the disussion takes a turn and the subject doesn't get updated. When there are more than four "Re:"s at the beginning of the subject, it's a real good idea to re-evaluate it (or at least delete some "Re:"s).

HOW TO REPLY
> The best way to reply is to have your email program copy the text from the
> email you are replying to into your reply. Depending upon your email app, you can
> usually set up your preferences so that every line is preceded with ">" like in
> this paragraph. This way the recipients know which text is current and which is
> old. Everytime the email is sent back as a reply, another ">" is added so you can
>> easily see that the text with no ">" is current and the text with ">>" is 2 emails
>> ago, etc. It is a good idea to edit out unimportant text and include only the immediate
>> text to which you want to refer and focus. If your emailer doesn't identify who
>> the send is, It is also a good practice to manually add the sender's info to further
>> clarify who wrote which text. this is especially helpful when there are more than
>>two people in the mail thread. For example:

John Doe wrote:

PLEASE DON'T SCREAM!
Screaming is typing in ALL CAPS. First off, all caps is very hard to read because there is not as much variations in the letters as with upper and lower case. Second, if you type in all caps, you have no way emphasizing other text because you are already maxed out.

PAGE WIDTH
Notice how much easier it is to read the HOW TO REPLY" paragraph above than the rest of the page? Shorter widths are easier to read because your eyes don't have to travel back and forth. This is why newspapers and magazines use columns. You simply manually hit your "Return" key like the old typewriter days.

AVOID REPEATING WHAT HAS ALREADY BEEN SAID
Read all current postings to the list before submiting a follow-up response. If someone has already said it, don't repeat it unless you have a new thought to add.

WHEN USING A REFERENCE, CITE THE AUTHOR
When posting a item that is not your original text, let the readers know who wrote it, and where you found it. The reader may wish to go to the source for more information.

BE CAREFUL ABOUT HUMOR AND SARCASM
Without vocal inflection and body language, a remark meant to be funny can be misinterpreted. Some people use a symbol called an "emoticon" or "emotag" to point out the emotional intent. A standard humorus example is " :-) " or " :-( " for sorrow (tilt your head to the left to see the smiling face). You can also you text in brackets such as: [grins], or [blush] for example. Use your own, be creative. Another tool to help avoid misunderstanding is the use of stars or underscores around a word to highlight stress. For example, "I *know* you" or "I know _you_."

DO NOT ATTACK PEOPLE (too much...)
It's better to persuade them with your presentation of the facts. Try not to say anything to someone that you would not say in a room full of people. Remember the Walt Disney cartoon of Goofy (or was it Donald Duck?) behind the wheel of a car? The one where his personality underwent a Jekyl/Hyde transformation when he turned on the ignition? Sometimes a person is inclined to react immediately to a disturbing posting. It's usually better to take a break, think about a response, and come back to it later.

RE-READ YOUR MESSAGE BEFORE SENDING
Minimize spelling errors. Make sure that your message is easy to read and understand. I have found upon re-reading that I sometimes leave out important words like "not" in a sentence like "I did not do it." My spelling errors can be pretty humorous, but sometimes I'd prefer to be the only one laughing.

CHECK THE "TO" AND "CC" LINES BEFORE YOU SEND A MESSAGE
If you are posting a message to the group, you will not need to "CC" it to a member of the group. If you do, that member will receive two copies. If you are sending a reply, your message will automatically pick up the name of the person (or persons, if you choose "respond to all recipients") listed in the message you are replying to. You may not actually want your response to go to all of recipients. It is especially important to check these lines if you are sending a message that is personal.

SUMMARIZE RESPONSES TO A POLL
If you are polling readers for their response to a specific question, ask them to post their responses to you personally and then post a summary of their responses on the list.


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