Email Pet Peeves

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Indulgent Commentary
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I love the opportunities that new technology has provided us over the past few years.  Some things in my life have become simpler, like electronic filing of our income tax.  It’s not that I like paying taxes, but due to e-filing I don’t have to fill out the lengthy forms with no guidance or I don’t have to pay someone else to do it for me. 

Technology has provided email as the means of communicating both within business and within your personal life.  I really do miss the old days of hand-writing a letter.  I can remember when I was young I had a pen pal from Korea.  Her name was Ok Hu and I loved getting letters from her.  She would write her letter in her native language and a translator rewrote it in English.  There was nothing more exciting than getting a letter from Korea. 

During the summers when I was young, a friend of mine from school would exchange letters throughout the summer.  To make it a little more fun we would either write the letters in morse code or write all of the words backwards. 

Today we have electronic letters known as email.  I was reading a post written by The Coach Manager called 5 Annoying Replies That Don’t Require “Reply All”  In this article he describes his dislike for the use of “reply all” because it is such a time waster.  In this post he lists five types of email that it is not necessary to “reply all.” They include: Congrats, Thank you,I agree, Please remove me from this mailing list and LOL.

I work at a large corporation and I also have a disdain for these types of emails, especially since we are allocated a limited amount of space for email.  I have a few more types of emails that I would like to add to this list:

Reply alls

You welcome:  Before you get the “you welcome” email, you already got a “thanks” email.  This type of email is a double hitter. I think it is wonderful to thank someone for something they have done, but it isn’t really necessary to copy everyone in the department.  What is the reason to copy everyone on a thank you email?  Are they trying to show that you are appreciative and implying that others are not?

Cover Your A$$ Email:  Working in corporate America this type of email is pretty common.  Everyone is always documenting everything because they don’t want to be held accountable.  The process is irritating – irritating that you have to do it, and irritating that others do it.  I really don’t have a solution for this.  Thinking about it, have you ever seen anyone fired for something they put in an email.  I haven’t, even though they should have.  But I have had to pull out an email to prove something that was said.  That is always fun.  I guess the reason I dislike this category is if you have to do it, don’t be so obvious.  Perhaps this category should be labeled “Obviously Covering Your A$$ Emails.”

Forgot to include:  This type of email relates somewhat to the “Cover Your A$$ Email.” To begin with the email has many names already copied on it.  The author then realizes a person of importance is not on the list and needs to be in audience of the information of the email.  So the author copies everyone again when they add the missing person.  Wouldn’t a simple forward work just as well?  My colleagues’ excuse for using this type of email is, “they don’t want to mess up the email chain,” as if this was the holy grail of emails. Now if the topic is that important, do you really think documenting it in email chains is sufficient?  I think it is another form of “Obviously Covering Your A$$ Email.”

Email’s of inspiration:  I am sure you have received these words of inspiration emails that have been sent to people from all over the world and the individual forwarding it keeps all of the email accounts in the forwarded email along with the inspiration.  When I get one of these emails I see all of the people who have received it and I don’t even bother reading the “inspiration” before I hit the delete button.  I know some people love these type of things.  Don’t you wonder what type of person takes the time to write them and then to start the spam process? It is even worse when they turn it into a “chain email,” where there is a threat of bad luck if you don’t forward it to ten more recipients.

Other email pet peeves:

Emails with attached large files:  This type of email falls into the same category of “reply alls” because it also eats up space on my computer or network.  I understand that it is important to share information and there are times that you have no choice but to attach a file.  All I ask is be considerate.  Check how big the file is.  If it is one of those monster files, think about another way of sharing the information.  Put it in a directory that is shared by everyone.  Put it in a document repository such as SharePoint.  Better yet, if you are in the same building as the recipient, invite them for a cup of coffee and deliver the document.  Also, if you are copying multiple people in the email, do they all need to have the attached document.  Probably not.

Spam:  Probably my biggest pet peeve about email is spam.  What more can I say?  Spam is hated by everyone.  Today spam has gotten pretty tricky.  They have become a mechanism of spreading viruses, placing a cookie on your computer, or providing the spammer with enough information to hack into your computer.  I wonder what does the spammer get out of spam.  Are there really that many people who fall for spam?  Spam is an industry all in itself.  Sometimes I wonder if the makers of software to corral spam are the same people who put out the spam itself.  If the spam is legit I will guarantee you that I am not interested in how to lose 10 pounds in five days.

Unsubscribes that don’t work:  I am always trying to eliminate unnecessary email that I receive.  There are times I am interested in a web site and in order to look at the information I am interested in, they may require a “subscription” to their site.  So I go along with it, subscribe, and read the info I needed.  Not a day passes and I start getting emails from this website.  I can’t complain too much because I did provide them with my email address.  So my theory is give them the information and then I will just unsubscribe to the page when I get the emails.  Well some of these companies are tricky, and the unsubscribe link in the email does not work.  I think this is even illegal, but who am I going to report it to.  Is there really a government agency that is responsible for prosecuting the owner of a web page who did not allow me to unsubscribe from a link in their email?  Boy, if there is an agency such as this, then I want my tax money back.  It is easier for me to hit delete than to fund a government program to address this.  As you can see they haven’t been doing a very good job because my email account is full of unwanted emails.

I have $50,0000 dollars that belongs to you:  Now these emails are really funny.  Years ago they were usually from Nigeria.  In Nigeria they call these 419 emails.  The 419 is a reference to the law against scamming people.  Over the years these are not coming just from Nigeria.  In the last year I have gotten emails like this supposedly from Iraq, China, Japan, and Afghanistan.  There seems to be scammers all over the world who have found a stash of money that once belonged to Saddam Hussein.  All of them have one thing in common.  They want your bank information and they want you to send them some money and imply that you will receive back even more money.  Who falls for this?  I think if you are stupid enough to send money to a stranger with the “promise” of receiving a bunch of money, then you deserve to be ripped off. Once again if it is too good to be true then it isn’t true.

I have no solutions to any of these email issues.  In time the scams will change and there will be new technology with new methods of scamming people.  It happened before the time of computers, like with the snake oil sales man.  And it will happen into the future.  Perhaps big brother will create a method of monitoring everything we do and then have the ability to take action on what it finds.  Oh yea.  We already have that.  It is called the U.S. Patriot Act.

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