another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).
Call to Consideration and Responsibility
One of the helpful features of email is the forwarding and
group send feature. However in combination these can be easily abused. An
individual forward with a personal note can be real time-saver. It seems that
many well meaning people find it fascinating to develop a list with every
address they can find and pass on humorous and inspirational stories, urban
legends, ministry promotions, etc. And whether you have 15 on your list or 500
it’s free! I really believe some must pride themselves on how many addresses
they have listed to send their stuff to.
Some will say, "what’s the problem?" Nothing
probably when you first start in email and your list of contacts is small. In
fact you may be excited to get any mail, including forwards. And after all you
can delete it if you don’t want it. However as your list of contacts grows and
your email address populates and circulates through the internet, gleaned from
headers, directories, etc. your mail volume will increase. Merely sorting
through it can be time consuming and annoying. You get personal mail that may
need attention, group mail that you have subscribed to (and can unsubscribe if
you wish) and of course commercial spam. But in this article I am referring to the group forward or unsolicited group category.
I’m not addressing here the obnoxious commercial spammers
(who will never read this and don’t care), but individuals who really probably
mean well. (The commercial spammers logic must be "If I send out 1,000,000
appeals and 99% get filtered or deleted that still leaves 10,000 potential
customers). One of the most cunning methods used by commercial spammers to
appear considerate is to place a paragraph to the effect "If you’re not
interested in this information hit delete". Wow, how thoughtful! Of course
I know I can delete it. Commercial spammers also try to appear responsible by
giving removal instructions, but with lots of hoops such as visiting a web
page, calling a number (often a toll call!), etc. It’s very easy and principled
to place removal instructions through a mere email reply. By the way, I have
read that by responding to these removal instructions from unprincipled
spammers you may be doing no more than verifying the legitimacy of your address
so they can send you more. How’s that for integrity!
standard before placing anyone on a group list
(commercial, non-commercial, social) should be that they subscribe or
"opt-in". And offer it "opt-in" not "opt-out". In
other words do not place at the bottom of the first message you write,
"Just let me know if you don't want to receive these mailings"
(although this is better than most which have nothing). But if i's
somebody I know I really don't care to tell them I don't want their
emails!Instead place a note
such as "If you would like me to send you funny stories, inspirational
writings, etc. and whatever else I come across, let me know and I will add you
to my list." Of course you will get far fewer responses and perhaps even
miss a sloppy reader who would have appreciated your material. Exceptions to "opt-in" rule - (In My Opinion)
Do not lift recipient addresses off the headers of mail
you receive to develop your list! My word, you probably don't even know any of
these people. At best send them an introductory letter and give them the
opportunity to receive your stuff if they desire. And make it
"opt-in".If you think you recognize an address on a header, write
them a personal letter and make sure it's them before even placing them in your
address book. The same applies to addresses gleaned from directories, etc.
Do not use someone else's list to develop your list. I
started getting promotional stuff from a minister who got my address from a
list developed by another minister who himself got my address from message
headers! I have never met either one of them! Do not let others have your list.
If I gave you permission to write me don't assume that extends to your friends,
who I may not even know! I will give an individual email address if someone
wants it and knows the person but I consider the devotional group list, to
which people have subscribed a trust.
If you like to regularly forward material you find
interesting why don't you develop a subscription list for this purpose even if
you know the people you are writing to? In other words ask people if they would
like to receive your mail before placing them on the list.
Take the time to learn how to use the blind send feature
so the addresses of the recipients are not seen. Exposed addresses can be
harvested for other email group lists, which multiply.
If you have several cute stories compile them and mail
them all at once instead of separately. I have gotten 7 or 8 "funny
story" forwards at a time from the same diligent forwarder.
If you have subscribed to a list don't automatically place
the sender’s address on your own list! I get regular group mail to the special
address I send the daily devotional out on! They signed up to receive my
materials (the daily devotional) whereas they didn't give me a choice as
whether I want to receive theirs.
Don't place the addresses of large national ministries on
your list. I've seen some that have the addresses to ministries like
"Focus on the Family" in the header. Do you really want to tie up
someone's time sorting through and deleting your cute stuff? (Although I
suppose they have filters to automatically delete this stuff.) If you feel a
large national ministry would benefit from something write them personally.
Spooky chain letters and outlandish offers (free trips to
Disney World, etc, etc.) cause me to lose respect for the intelligence of the
sender. Urban legends abound on the internet. Check it out yourself first. I
lose respect for propel that send me messages promising a blessing if I
forward their email or that I'm not a good person (or dedicated
Christian) if I don't.I
regularly receive emails with rumors and warnings that tell me that
they checked Snopes and the warning or rumor is for real. I check Snopes and find out it's fraud or something that went around many years ago. Essentially the sender lied to me.
- I do not
consider it inappropriate to receive group mail from an organization I belong
to. For instance I handled the emailing for our local minister's association. I
felt no need to ask each minister’s permission since they were in the group
- I believe
missionaries or ministries that we presently support or whom we have recently
expressed interest in are proper to send me periodic (monthly or less) mailing.
Even these do well to have an "unsubscribe" option. However I am
annoyed by a missionary or ministry that's gleaned my address off a directory
or header who I don't know or haven't seen for years sending me stuff.
Bottom line: Let’s be considerate and responsible in the
way we use email!
Stephen C. Weber
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