How to Write E-Mail and Not Offend Those Receiving It

I don't know who wrote the original piece, but I thank him/her from the bottom of my heart; I'd been meaning to write something like this (with my additions)...

  1. Big companies don't do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is not giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation. There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. You can relax; there is no need to pass it on "just in case it's true". Furthermore, just because someone said in the message, four generations back, that "we checked it out and it's legit", does not actually make it true.
  2. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to their cousin. If you are hellbent on believing the kidney-theft ring stories, please see: And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. None have." That's "none" as in "zero". Not even your friend's cousin.
  3. Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they do, we all have it. And even if you don't, you can get a copy at: Then, if you make the recipe,decide the cookies are that awesome, feel free to pass the recipe on.
  4. We all know all 500 ways to drive your roommates crazy, irritate co-workers and creep out people on an elevator. We also know exactly how many engineers, college students, Usenet posters and people from each and every world ethnicity it takes to change a lightbulb.
  5. Even if the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) DID contain plutonium that went to particulate over the eastern seaboard, do you REALLY think this information would reach the public via an AOL chain-letter?
  6. There is no "Good Times" virus. In fact, you should never, ever, ever forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first confirm it at an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with virii. Try: . And even then, don't forward it. We don't care.
  7. If your CC: list is regularly longer than the actual content of your message, you're probably going to Hell.
  8. If you're using Outlook, IE, or Netscape to write email, turn off the "HTML encoding." Those of us on Unix shells can't read it, and don't care enough to save the attachment and then view it with a web browser, since you're probably forwarding us a copy of the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe anyway.
  9. If you still absolutely MUST forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 6 months. It sure wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the that begin each line. Besides, if it has gone around that many times - I've probably already seen it.
  10. Craig Shergold in England is not dying of cancer or anything else at this time and would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards. He apparently is also no longer a "little boy" either.
  11. If you're e-mailing someone looking for help -- free help, in particular -- try to keep it brief. If I have to press Page Down to see your signature, there's a good chance I won't get to it any time soon.
  12. Be careful with those 700K attachments to unsuspecting recipients. Not all of us live in an area with cable modems or XDSL.
  13. If your firm runs a spam generator, put a "to be removed from this list..." message at the TOP of the message. When employees who have subscribed to a listserve leave, the listserve still sends them mail, which gets junked and copied to the postmaster. Some listserves are so stupid that they can't figure out that someone's gone (personally, I'd say that 10 bounced messages in a row would be what we call in the business a "clue," but listserves seem to be electroclueless) and so it would be nice for the postmaster to be able to inform the listserve/spam generator that it is simply wasting its time and bandwidth. Most spam letters, however, put the "how to be removed from this list" message at the bottom of the list. Sadly, the postmaster gets a truncated version of the original letter, and so never sees the removal URL.