posted by StephenBeDoper on Fri 23rd Jan 2009 15:40
Conversations This is a quick rant about some of the specific annoyances I've run into as a heavy EMail user, especially in the last few years.

- Does no one understand why (or how) to use "reply-to-all" anymore? I've given up asking at this point, and usually just put addresses back in the CC field manually. One former coworker went so far as to respond to EMails by forwarding the message back to the sender, with her response at the top.

- It seems that fewer and fewer people understand how to reply to long EMails (replying underneath specific points). And those that do often end up inventing their own quoting scheme (E.g., colour-coding their text).

- Basic literacy - it's amazing how many supposed-professionals use emoticons, chat lingo, ALL CAPS, etc, in their EMail. Have elementary schools stopped teaching the basics of writing a formal letter?

- Related to that, it seems that many people have spent so much time using IM that they are completely unable to comprehend (or write)
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Comments:
Cut off...
by StephenBeDoper on Sat 24th Jan 2009 02:32 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

The last point was cut off, that should be:

"- Related to that, it seems that many people have spent so much time using IM that they are completely unable to comprehend (or write) anything that takes more than one sentence to convey."

Reply Score: 2

RE: Cut off...
by RandomGuy on Sat 24th Jan 2009 04:35 in reply to "Cut off..."
RandomGuy Member since:
2006-07-30

What annoys me more is that many people use a lot of sentences where one would do. Whenever I have the time, I try to shorten my mails to avoid wasting people's time.

Smilies make most sense to indicate irony, a stylistic device that shouldn't be used in the workplace anyway.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Cut off...
by BallmerKnowsBest on Sat 24th Jan 2009 16:12 in reply to "RE: Cut off..."
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

What annoys me more is that many people use a lot of sentences where one would do. Whenever I have the time, I try to shorten my mails to avoid wasting people's time.


Absolutely - I generally do the same sort of proofreading / fat-trimming before hitting "Send."

I see the main distinction as being between those who take a deliberate effort to be concise, and those who do it just to be lazy (or because they're not capable of anything other than the most basic written communication).

Smilies make most sense to indicate irony, a stylistic device that shouldn't be used in the workplace anyway.


Totally agreed there.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Cut off...
by StephenBeDoper on Sun 25th Jan 2009 00:49 in reply to "RE: Cut off..."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

What annoys me more is that many people use a lot of sentences where one would do. Whenever I have the time, I try to shorten my mails to avoid wasting people's time.


True enough. As the old journalism joke goes, "I would have made it shorter, but I didn't have the time."

Both strike me as examples of erring to an extreme - excessive brevity, or excessive verbosity.

Smilies make most sense to indicate irony, a stylistic device that shouldn't be used in the workplace anyway.


Good point. And to put on my cynicism/snobbery hat, I've found that smilies are usually favoured by people who can't spot written irony otherwise.

Reply Score: 2

Hmm
by Moochman on Sat 24th Jan 2009 12:48 UTC
Moochman
Member since:
2005-07-06

To your point about quoting and then answering, that's fine when you're replying to multiple points, but if you're replying to the whole letter I'd argue it's much nicer to put the reply at the top. This is how I have configured Thunderbird, and it is also the default behavior on most webmail clients including GMail. Why should the receiver have to scroll through their own entire message just to get to your answer?

As for the informality: You really can't compare e-mails directly to handwritten/printed letters. The medium is inherently different: the reaction time is much quicker, so the quality becomes much more conversational. Your comment that people are too influenced by instant messaging is perceptive: Indeed, e-mail is just a small step away from an IM conversation, especially when both parties are online at the same time.

I agree of course that for business communication with people you've never met then formalisms are appropriate and emoticons not. But in nearly all other situations I think it's only natural...

The name "e-mail" is, I think, a bit of a misnomer, as it often approximates a face-to-face conversation far more than it does the antiquated act of writing a letter.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Hmm
by StephenBeDoper on Sat 24th Jan 2009 17:42 in reply to "Hmm"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

To your point about quoting and then answering, that's fine when you're replying to multiple points, but if you're replying to the whole letter I'd argue it's much nicer to put the reply at the top.


That's exactly what I meant, although the character limit when creating a new conversation limited how thoroughly I could explain it. I think that "top-posting" (reply above quoted text) is most appropriate for short replies / replies that aren't point-by-point, while "bottom-posting" (reply below quoted text) makes sense for more detailed responses.

What I do find irritating is when people try to do a point-by-point response by writing their reply above the quoted text - something almost invariably gets left out. Or when I send a bottom-posted reply to someone not familiar with that style of quoting and they send back a message saying "hey, your EMail was blank."

As for the informality: You really can't compare e-mails directly to handwritten/printed letters. The medium is inherently different: the reaction time is much quicker, so the quality becomes much more conversational.


I agree what that. When I saw "the basics of writing a formal letter," I mean things like the basic "Salutation, Body, Sign-off" structure.

Reply Score: 2

subjects
by evert on Sun 25th Jan 2009 13:12 UTC
evert
Member since:
2005-07-06

And why is it soooo difficult to give a subject?

Often, I get the wrong subject (a reply to an old message) or no subject at all.

Reply Score: 2

RE: subjects
by StephenBeDoper on Tue 27th Jan 2009 01:27 in reply to "subjects"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Ah yes, I forgot that one. Descriptive subject lines do seem to be beyond many people. Case in point: just did a search of my EMail for messages where the subject is "Re: website" - 642 results.

Reply Score: 2