bofh at stremler.net
Fri Dec 12 19:04:27 PST 2008
begin quoting Matthew Janulewicz as of Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 06:20:16PM -0800:
> On Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 5:12 PM, Andrew Lentvorski <bsder at allcaps.org> wrote:
> > Poor email ettiquette is:
> > 1) Extremely easy to correct if you care in the slightest
> The thing is, people don't care. Not even a little bit. I don't. I
> never did. I never will. Most people are the same way.
Yes. We call them "illiterate".
This is not a compliment.
> This thread makes it obvious that people's level of concern and ideas
> about what constitutes correct E-mail ettiquette are widle varied.
I don't know that word. Is it related to what poodles do to fire
> My view of E-mail is that it's designed to be informal, rather less
> business-like, and I wouldn't care if someone complained about my
> formatting of E-mail any more than if someone complained that the way
> I write Post-It notes is incorrect.
Email is less formal that business correspondence (although, much of
that is simply atrocious) but more formal than the speech. Thus, we
don't much care about formal modes of address in email, and we let
the system handle the timestamps, etc. etc.
(If your post-it notes were generally incomprehensible, I'd be certain
to complain about the way you were writing them. Notes that are hard
to read are a waste of my time and the note-writer's time. Better to
skip 'em entirely.)
As you broaden the scope of your emails to a wider audience than just
one person (presumably well-known to you), the necessary formality
increases. So an email to your spouse might be VERY informal, while an
email to your parents would be slightly more formal, and the email to
a mailing list would be more formal yet.
It's a matter of degree. "Reasonable effort" counts -- and trimming
unquoted text, providing attributions when quoting, intermixing replies
with the relevent quoted material, using blank lines to delimit
paragraphs, etc. -- isn't very much effort at all. Declining to exert
even the most minimal effort says something, and it isn't good.
We're not carefully measuring each line of text to make sure it wraps
between 74 and 76 characters, but we can't help but notice when there's
a long-line-short-line effect going on. We're not verifying that each
paragraph has just one well-formed idea in it, but we do flinch when
a dozen unrelated ideas are crammed into one sentence. We're not checking
to be sure that every last phrase, word, or punctuation mark quoted is
fully addressed in a reply, but we do get frustrated when virtually none
of what's quoted is touched on.
> If you get hundreds of E-mails per day (or more) I would contend that
> the people you communicate with on a regular basis are lazy and should
> be calling you on the phone instead.
Oh, god, no. People that are too lazy to be bothered to write reasonable
prose are the last people I'd want to talk to on the phone.
> Anyone that has read more than a few of my messages to this list can
> tell I don't proofread. If I were writing a magazine article or
> technical paper, sure, I take the time to care about formatting and
> the way I'm coming across, but in casual conversation, whether real or
> virtual, who cares?
If you're intent on wasting my time, why would I want to converse with you?
If you're trying to communicate with me, then surely the amount of
effort you exert as a writer should _at least_ equal the amount of
effort I as a reader invest. If there are many readers, then the level
of effort should increase as well (but probably not linearly).
I criticize those who I think can do better. Feedback is a good thing, yes?
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