Share If You Agree: 5 Tips for Netiquette

By Lisa Earle McLeod


Remember when everyone said emailwas going to save us so much time? How’s that working out?

Progress comes with its price. The printing pressspawned junk mail. Alexander Graham Bell’s fabulous phonebegat telemarketers.

Now, thanks to the accessibility of the web, people havegone trigger happy on send, cc, and reply all. I routinely getcc’d on hundreds of unnecessary emails, and my social mediais clogged with sappy sayings and stories about a littlegirl and an angel. Apparently, if I do not repost these sappystories, it will be taken as evidence that no one cares.

Count me in the “You’re right, I don’t care” category, becauseI’ve hidden most of those people on my social media, andI use aggressive spam filtering. Unnecessary business emailsare harder to weed out. People want to be kept in the loop, but ifyou’re on the email chain for every project, you’ll never get anywork done. I can’t tell you how many times people have sentme 10 or 15 documents about an issue, just so I’ll “have everything.”But too much information is worse than too little. Whenpeople have too much information, they don’t read any of it.


Five tips

I spoke with Anna Post of The Emily Post Institute, the country’sforemost authority on etiquette, who confirms, “People don’t use the best judgment when they send you things.”

Here are five tips to keep yourself for good Netiquette:

  1. Fix Before Forwarding: If you are going to forward something, at least have the courtesy to delete the stuff sitting on top of the text youwant people to read. The receiver is not your secretary.They shouldn’t have to troll through seven forwards and five never-ending signature lines to get to the actual message.
  2. Pare it down: Give people what they need to know, not everything youhave on the subject. Think back to the old days and ask yourself, would this be worth photo copying and mailing? Ifnot, it’s probably not worth emailing either. Email is not theplace for stream of consciousness or buckets of info. If you want someone to take action, give them a summary of thetop line facts.
  3. Validating before posting: You may have received it from your highly educated brother in-law, but your urban rumor has long since been proven false by I hate to break it to you, but Starbucksdid not refuse coffee to the military; kale is not killing people and neither is Hillary Clinton.
  4. Don’t presume: Just because someone looks like you, it doesn’t mean theyshare your political views – even if you’re related. Anna Post says, “Presumption is one of the most impolite attitudes. It’s inexcusable. If you do it without knowing youlook ignorant. If you do it on purpose you look arrogant.” Itis, she says, “Atrocious.”
  5. Use Bcc instead of Cc: If you must mass email, don’t publicly post everyone’s address in the Send field. No one wants your Amway-sellingneighbor to have their personal email address. Bcc (blindcarbon copy) sits right below Send and Cc – Use it.

So next time your sister-in-law posts post a puppy parable,feel free to hide it. And if your coworkers are sendingtoo many files your way, forward them this column.