E-mail 101 OR Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Netiquette Developed by the EASTCONN Tech Council September 2006 Adapted from the E-mail Etiquette Workshop developed by the Purdue University Writing Lab (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/workshops/pp/emailett.ppt) E-mail Facts E-mail is fast and reliable. E-mail can be sent and received any time of the day or night, 365 days a year. E-mail is virtually replacing “snail mail” as a way to communicate. E-mail is viewed as a blessing by some and as a curse by others. Did you know that… Your e-mail messages can be intercepted and read anywhere in transit. E-mail can be reconstructed and read from backup devices. Administrators have the right to monitor your school e-mail communications. Under federal law, schools must archive e-mail and “must be able to produce ‘electronically stored information’ during the discovery process” in any legal dispute. (eSchool News Online, Dec. 8, 2006) Did you know that… If you are involved in a legal dispute with a parent, the parent has the legal right to review your e-mail. If you are suspected of a crime, law enforcement officials with a warrant can seize your electronic correspondence. The Electronic Communications Protection Act permits your Internet Service Provider to look through all stored messages, including e-mail awaiting you in your mailbox or recently sent and received mail. Did you know that… All e-mail falls under the Freedom of Information Act. This means that… All e-mail can become part of the public record. E-mail can be subpoenaed. E-mail can become part of a student’s permanent record if his/her full name is included in an e-mail. Why is e-mail etiquette important? We all interact with the printed word as though it has a personality and that personality makes positive and negative impressions upon us. Without immediate feedback your document can easily be misinterpreted by your reader, so it is crucial that you follow the basic rules of e-mail etiquette (AKA Netiquette) to construct an appropriate tone. General Format: The Basics Write a salutation for each new subject e-mail. Try to keep the e-mail brief (one screen length). Return e-mails within the same time you would a phone call. Check for punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors Use caps when appropriate but DON’T TYPE IN ALL UPPERCASE – THAT IS CONSIDERED SCREAMING. Format your e-mail for plain text rather than HTML. Use a font that has a professional or neutral look. Be mindful of size; format simply and attach only small files General Format: Character & Font Formatting Set your e-mail preferences to automatically wrap outgoing plain text messages Use the Enter (or Return) key only to break between paragraphs A standard font size is 12 point – any smaller makes it difficult to read General Format: Lists and Bullets When you are writing directions or want to emphasize important points, number your main points and hit the Enter (or Return) key between points. For example, 1) 2) Place the paper in drawer A. Click the green “start” button. General Format: Tone • • Write in a positive tone “When you complete the assignment...” instead of “If you complete the assignment...” Avoid negative words that begin with “un, non, ex” or that end with “less” (e.g., useless, non-existent, undecided). • • Use smiles :>), winks ;), and other graphical symbols to convey some facial expressions only when appropriate. Use contractions to add a friendly tone when appropriate. (e.g., you’re, I’d, she’ll). General Format: TO, CC & BCC TO is for the people you are directly addressing CC (Carbon Copy) is for people you are indirectly addressing BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) is for keeping e-mail addresses private Use BCC and CC judiciously If you are a teacher: Be clear with your students about whether they can contact you via e-mail. Tell them what kinds of subjects you are willing to deal with via e-mail in case you have any restrictions. If you have cut-off times for when you will respond to e-mail, inform your students about those times. Seek consent from students before discussing their e-mails in the classroom. General Tips for Using School Email Avoid discussing private concerns and issues. Always create a subject heading. Choose a subject heading that matches the content of your message. Don’t use all UPPER CASE letters -- this is considered shouting. Attachments If you have something long to say in e-mail, send it as an attachment If you send an attachment, use RTF (Rich Text Format) if you are unsure what software the receiver has When you are sending an attachment, tell your respondent what the name of the file is, what program it is saved in, and the version of the program. Example: “This file is in MS Word 2000 under the name “LabFile.” General Tips for Electronic Mailing Lists Avoid discussing private concerns and issues. It is okay to address someone directly on the list, e.g., “Hi Leslie, regarding your question” Change the subject heading to match the content of your message. When conflict arises on the list speak in person with the one with whom you are in conflict. Maintenance Check with your Network Administrator about e-mail storage quota Empty your Sent Items and Deleted Items folders regularly – they take up lots of space on your computer or your e-mail server. Filters can block inappropriate subjects but they don’t necessarily block everything. If you get Spam, delete it without opening it; if it’s a continuing problem, notify your network administrator. Some systems have “Spam Bulk Folders” for you that should be reviewed. Flaming in e-mails • • Flaming is a virtual term for venting or sending inflammatory messages in e-mail. Avoid flaming because it tends to create a great deal of conflict that spirals out of control. • • Flame fights tend to affect observers in a very negative way. What you say cannot be taken back; it is in black and white and can be forwarded, archived or printed and distributed. Keep flaming under control • • Before you send any e-mail message, ask yourself, “Would I say this to this person’s face?” If the answer is NO, don’t send it. Calm down before responding to a message that offends you. Once you send the message it is gone. Read your message twice before you send it and assume that you may be misinterpreted when proofreading. Have a second reader if you feel the situation is sensitive. If you feel the need to flame… There are times when you may feel the need to blow off some steam. Remember your audience and your situation before sending any e-mail. DON’T EVER FLAME A PARENT OR STUDENT! Here’s a way to flame: Flame On Your message Flame Off Then delete this message without sending it. You’ll feel better without doing any permanent damage. Responding to a flame Empathize with the sender’s frustration and tell them they are right if that is true If you feel you are right, thank them for bringing the matter to your attention Explain what led to the problem in question Avoid getting bogged down by details and minor arguments If you are aware that the situation is in the process of being resolved let the reader know at the top of the response Apologize if necessary When Email Won’t Work There are times when you need to take your discussion out of the virtual world and make a phone call or talk in person. If things become very heated, a lot of misunderstanding can occur – the printed word cannot impart tone of voice and body language. When you are delivering very delicate news, face-to-face is definitely the best. Netiquette Quiz Ready to see how e-mail savvy you are? Test your “netiquette” at: http://www.onlinenetiquette.com/netiquette_quiz.html Burning Questions?