re: sensible email messages

Plowing through proposals for and discussions around ETech 2006, and with our focus in this upcoming edition on affordances and attenuation, I’ve been thinking a great deal about email of late. To that end, I’ve kept meaning to point to Merlin Mann’s excellent contribution to the usabilty of email, “Writing sensible email messages”. His missive was brought to mind this morning by a possibly dated but nonetheless useful article, 12 tips for better e-mail etiquette, at Microsoft Office Online (I was surveying the new Office 12 deets at the time). This also put me in mind of O’Reilly’s (and I don’t say “our” since it predates my O’Reilly existence) lovely little book, “Using Email Effectively (What You Need to Know)” by Linda Lamb and Jerry Peek. It’s a decade old, but has aged surprisingly well–and with used editions starting at just $0.72, it’s a steal!

  • Mike Sierra

    Wow, with shipping? ;-)

  • And I thought I was the only one.

    I wrote an article back in 2001 called A Cry for Email Standards. I’ve sent it and resent it to email offenders many times.

  • Agreed. Over the past summer there was a noticeable increase in broken threads across many mailing lists, where people hit “Reply” when they actually meant “New Message”. Don’t know what caused it, but a bunch of us spontaneously remarked on the increase….

    I’m more and more convinced that future software architectures won’t rely on “everybody’s got common sense”, and will increasingly lead people to do the right thing. The auto-quote and markup defaults in Microsoft Outlook and other late-90s email clients shows how destructive the wrong defaults can be…. :(

    John Hagel added a new wrinkle recently — the increased number of misreadings on mobile devices, or while multitasking.

  • Ditto on the demise of intelligent replies in tandem with the rise of mobile handheld email clients. You lose the native ability to communicate through your fingers when you’re reduced to single digit jabbing.