Daily Encouragement Net
“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).

Email Etiquette
A 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!
A simple 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.

Bottom line: Let’s be considerate and responsible in the way we use email!

Stephen C. Weber

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