that has e-mail has seen them… most of us dread them… the cute
bear hug – make a wish angel – get money from someone because
they have to do it (it’s the law you know) – snowball fight generic
it comes to my opinion on them, you will find me solidly in the
“waste of time” camp. But I don’t consider myself an aggressive
member of that camp. I just hit delete. Don’t even read them.
Once I recognize what they are *poof* (delete).
there’s a funny thing about e-mail. Hard to believe, but some
people think it’s cute, or (even worse), use it despite the fact
that they have absolutely no clue what they are doing.
get to that.
a quick story…
many of you have probably encountered, the place where I work
has an e-mail system, with an internal address book. I’m not mentioning
that to get into an internal/external e-mail debate about it,
but rather to point to an “all hands” or similar feature that
allows certain documents to be sent company-wide, to everyone
with an account in the group. (Isn’t modern technology wonderful?)
the system was up and running several years ago, it took all of
about one second… if not less time… for someone to silently think
some form of this question: “Hmm… wonder if I can get e-mails
from home here?” And with the answer to that brilliant thought,
the ability to get programs, files, jokes and other assorted pieces
of non-work sent in to a person’s work e-mail address was realized.
problem was… people had no clue what they were doing. They just
did it. (We’ll get to the differences between “reply” and “reply
to all” in just a second. Promise.)
it was, about a year later, that an e-mail went out to everybody
in the company. Blah-blah-blah happiness… blah-blah-blah scroll
down… blah-blah-blah one to five friends dream will come true
in two weeks, twenty to twenty-five friends cocktails at the pool
bar in seven days, thirty to forty friends lap dances in fifteen
minutes… blah-blah-blah fairy angel of destiny don’t break the
to everybody I work with that had a company e-mail account.
you’ve been paying attention, I’ve already told you my response
to this incident.
something terrible happened after that e-mail went out. Actually,
something terribly funny. See… people decided to reply
to the e-mail. And by so doing so, their words of wit became even
more annoying than the original e-mail.
for my reply, reply to all, forward speech…)
and gentlemen, I would like to direct your attention to your e-mail
service. Almost all of them are different… in both significant
and insignificant ways. Most of them even allow you to adjust
options, features and layouts to suit your needs and preferences.
(Hey… get back here… play with those settings later. This is important.)
with these differences, every one I have ever used or seen has
always contained some form of these three options for every piece
of received e-mail: reply, reply to all, or forward. Here’s where
it gets fun, and you may learn something, so pay attention...
– Clicking on this feature brings up a message, going from you
to the person or address that sent it to you. (I’m not going to
get into an argument about junk addresses and blocked access here
folks, this is E-Mail 101, not a graduate level course. Clicking
reply sets up an e-mail back to the sender. We leave it at that.)
You can add destinations/addresses to it beyond the original source
if you wish, but essentially it sets up a one-to-one reply.
to all – Selecting this option enables a message going from you
to everyone that the original message was sent to. When you click
send, your e-mail in return doesn’t just go to the person/address/whatever
that sent it your way, it goes to that address and every other
one that the original e-mail included.
– When you select either reply option noted here, most e-mail
programs assume that you don’t want to send the attachments along
with it. So while the original e-mail will normally find its way
along with your response, the huge movie file that you thought
was so funny won’t be sent back. Why take up time and space sending
a huge file to people that already received it or had it? (See
above – either reply option contacts people that had access to
the attachments... again, this is E-Mail 101.) But maybe that
attached picture of the bunny with the hair dryer was just so
hysterical you needed to send it to someone. That’s when you click
on forward… see it takes the whole message, repackages
it, and sends it on. It forwards it. Get it?
knowing the differences in these options rarely means anything
too serious or significant. Oh darn, you meant to answer a question
for one person (should have hit “reply”) and sent your answer
to everyone instead of the person asking it (actually hit “reply
to all”). Since they were all asked the question, it’s probably
no big deal. In some cases, it might even be preferable. And again,
you can adjust things, for instance by adding and deleting names...
but that is going way beyond where I want to take you.
yes… back to our story.
a lot of people got very upset by this misuse of company
time and resources. Let’s see (these are quotes from memory, the
issues are accurate, but the words may be off)…
company offers such a wonderful service and equipment and to
see it wasted on material such as this…”
do not send me any more material like this in the future…”
this person have any real work to do?”
don’t want any more either…”
was sent to me in error…”
is a waste of time…”
I counted. And in response to this one e-mail… the one I started
to read, figured out was worthless, shook my head and deleted…
there were fifty-two replies that I received calling it a waste
of time, resources and a mistake. Fifty... two...
do you think ticked me off more: (1) The original stupid e-mail
I had to delete. (2) The fifty-two stupid replies I had to delete.
it’s a tough question (yes... that’s sarcasm). Every one of those
fifty-two e-mailers was absolutely right though. It was a waste
of time... a waste of company resources... and something none
of us should have had to endure. But instead of telling us all
about your feelings on the subject... how about... maybe... if
I just suggest...
heck, learn the difference between reply and reply to all and
leave me out of the darn lecture.)
reason this article came to light here though isn’t because of
story number one. That’s just the set up. It’s because of story
other day I got an e-mail from one of my friends at work. It was
a time waster… probably the classic time waster e-mail of all
time, the Bill Gates wants to send you money so pass this e-mail
on. Now, all of us know this e-mail is absurd. And yet for many
people… look, just in case, after all what harm… they pick a few
people and send it along anyway.
just happened that my friend picked an idiot as one of the five
names to send it along to. The idiot responded: “This is a scam.
It has been going around for a couple of years now. It is designed
to obtain email addresses. Please do not send me any more of these
types of emails.”
far be it for me to point out that if this e-mail was designed
to track and collect e-mail addresses and actually could
do it, he was to a degree helping it out by replying, and helping
out even more by replying to all. (Idiot. Heck, his response actually
proved that Bill’s e-mail was possible.) Instead, as many of us
know, it is hard to read emotions and intent off of a page… so
perhaps he thought he was helping out by sharing his amazing common
sense and intelligence, bringing some light to our dark little
corners of the cubicle galaxy, and letting us all know about this
scam... or maybe he thought he was asking all of us not to send
him this kind of e-mail in case we were so inspired to include
him in future reindeer games… well, I won’t read much into his
telling all of us not to send things like this to him rather than
just telling the person that actually sent it. (Idiot.)
let’s just acknowledge that he was sort of right… it is a scam.
Kind of. But not to collect e-mail addresses. The point of this
e-mail isn’t that Bill Gates or anyone else gets a list of the
people it gets forwarded to. No one really does. Instead, someone
is getting their giggles out of the fact that so many people are
dumb enough and gullible enough to keep forwarding it over and
over and over again that many of us have seen it dozens of times.
point is… folks… e-mails are not toys. They are recorded
in most companies, whether you think you deleted them or not.
Head over to Yahoo or Google, check out “fired e-mail” as the
search words and look over the literally millions of articles
that exist, a huge number of which I am certain you will accept
as being posted in credible sources.
before you click that button… ask yourself… is this what I really
want to do?