Monday, April 25, 2011

Email Etiquette

I hadn't ever run into this little issue before, which, I suppose, falls under "Emailer Beware" which we all should practice more often anyway. 

I get an email from someone I don't know, but the subject is about an event that I'm familiar with, and something I have and would again volunteer for.

He's sending out the announcement about this year's event and asking me to log on to a survey to answer questions about my availability.  All fine.  I'm happy to take his survey... I use surveys sometimes to plan meetings, because it's easier than getting a massive email train going about when people can and cannot meet.

In any event, I shoot him back a quick email saying "super, thanks, can't wait, blah blah blah".  I contemplate including my particulars, but decide not to....i'll just fill out his survey later.

I hit SEND.

Two nanoseconds later, I get my own response.  Back to me.

I realize, suddenly, that his email address is not actually a "personal" email address, but rather a pseudo address that is masking as a list serve. 

Listserves are fine, I follow a bunch of these professionally.  But, because you KNOW (up front) that they are list serves, you KNOW better than to reply to the sender address because you KNOW that your response will then go to EVERYONE on the list serve.

Right?  Tracking with me?

So, no harm done, I don't care if the whole group (and I have no idea who is in the group, or how many) knows that I'm happy he's gotten back to me and that I'm excited about the event.  No worries.  But, it does give me a moment's pause that I didn't know it was a listserve up front.  I think about emailing back to say "hey, could you just let everyone know this is a list serve address so that no one sends anything stupid?!?!"  But I don't.

So, what happens not 5 minutes later?

Yup, some poor unsuspecting soul sends HIM an email with lots of detail about what she did last year, what she wants to do this year, how she's old, but she's enthusiastic, and she liked doing this task but not that one and she's happy to do whatever is needed, but just a heads up (in confidence, to HIM), she absolutely positively REFUSES TO WORK WITH MR. XXX this year, or EVER AGAIN.

I felt a collective cringe and shudder across the ether. 

The next email I receive is from HIM again, politiely alerting us (all 120) that, OH, by the way, this is actually a list serve and that if you want to email him personally, please use this alternate address.  

Shame on you, Mr. listerserve man. 

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