The Email Etiquette no one told you about

Everyone has sent a hilarious email he/she has received to a friend or a list of friends. Not all of our friends like these types of emails/chain emails. We also refer to them as friendly spam chain emails. Since spam could mean any type of email that someone gets often and is annoying, even from a friend. Besides annoying your friends, there are two critical mistakes everyone does when they forward emails to their friends:

1. They add everyone’s email address in the To: field.

2. They send the email with the body containing everyone who has received and sent that email to their friends (the chain is evident).

An example of your Send To: and the body of an email you might forward to a list of friends:

Send To:,,,,,,
Subject:    FW: Fwd: Title here

From:, xxxx
Sent:    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 0:01 AM

Subject:    FW: Title here
Importance: High  

Sent:    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 10:01 PM

Subject:    Title Here   
Importance: High
Friend10 Disclaimer….

What happens is that when you select forward everyone who was in the To: list, which you are also part of, is added to the body of the email. You then add to your To: a list of your friends and send what was previously in the To: list. The person who gets the email after passing by 10 friends of friends will end up with lots and lots of emails. We do not need to pass over all our friends’ emails to our other friends.

After you start getting tons of proper spam emails do not wonder why. This happens because someone clever enough has probably taken that list and used it in his/her spam list or has sold it off to spammers.

Proposed Solutions:

1. When you want to send an email to more than one person, do not add everyone to the To: field but to the Bcc:. Most of the email services do not require that the To: field is required.

2.    When you select forward, edit the body and remove any emails or other information that has been added to it, as it is not required, unless it is part of the theme of the email.



I would like to acknowledge Grigorios Fragkos, for the countless conversations we have had on many topics, one being the annoying chain mails he keeps on getting added to by his and our common friends.

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5 Responses to The Email Etiquette no one told you about

  1. theagingfanboy says:

    There’s also the wonderful thrill of discovering secret management details when someone forwards an email to you and leaves on it the entire history of the correspondence.
    You should also check that you’ve chosen the correct name from the list. I’ve had emails which should have gone to student services because my name is next to that of one of their officers on the mail list.

  2. Mike says:

    Yes, in the draft revision of the University’s Use of Computing
    Regulations, I have added a regulation requiring the use of the Bcc:

    In the Good Practice section of the draft revision, I thought I had
    put in a recommendation to edit emails before forwarding but on
    checking now I see I haven’t 🙁

    I will add a Good Practice note on this.

    BTW, from a legal perspective, email covers SMS text messages and
    voicemail. Users need to be aware of privacy/spam issues here as

  3. Mark Woods says:

    It would seem that conventions regarding these online
    communications are generally localized, even down to the
    ‘customs’ of a particular company or department.

    Often the assumption is made within these ‘digital dialect
    zones’, that the rules of online engagement are universal, when
    no such agreement exists, even between different tiers of
    employees, within the same division.

    Imagined offenses occur, when the accepted email practices of
    one group offends the electronic sensibilities of another. But the
    offenses are mostly nuanced differences of accepted
    departmental communication practices.

    So it’s useful for a large corporate entity to create policies and
    definitions, hence the UofG ‘Use of Computing

    My observation is that, the administrative arm of universities
    efficiently create rules for themselves, while the faculty and
    students operate (de facto) on ‘their own email planet’ as it were.

    Additionally, within HE there seem to be pay-level and education
    divides, which emerge via trends in daily email practice and

    This divide seems more distinct in the UK than in the US, from
    my observations. I am not sure why this is the case.

    There’s at least a thesis here, or two, me thinks!

  4. Mike says:

    Mark makes some valid points. In practice, creating rules is
    relatively easy compared with getting the message across.

    I will be putting out the revision to the Regulations for
    consultation. Whilst this is a major attempt to get the revision
    ‘correct’, part of my thinking is that it will aid in communicating the
    actual Regulations in a non-threatening manner.

    Finally, Faculty and students are not the only ones who operate on
    “their own small planet.”

  5. Mark Woods says:

    Thanks, Mike. As an idea, it might be useful to diseminate some of
    your conclusions in informal ‘reminder’ articles, maybe carefully
    placed throughout the year in not only Inform, but also in GlamLife
    — since this seems to be where students go . . .

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