Recommendations for your e-mail

Now that you understand what an e-mail is, and how you can use an e-mail client to manage your messages, I think it is imperative for you to learn the following things. You will learn to use your e-mail in a reasonably safe way if you do.

Sending an e-mail is like sending a postcard

Memorize it, please. E-mail as a means of communication may be fast, may be cheap, and may be easy; but e-mail messages are not private enough to be considered safe. Sending an e-mail is like sending a postcard: Its contents can be read, can be copied, and can be (and are) supervised by third parties without you being aware of it. Certainly, despite the fact many e-mail providers do have a privacy policy which specifically mentions which information their administrators will use, and which they won't; e-mail messages are not reliable enough for communications which involve sensitive information. As a matter of fact, I have already worked with two individuals who gave me two uncomfortable comments in this regard. One said: "Entering an e-mail account only means the users knows the password; it doesn't necessarily mean he or she is the owner of that account". The other said: "All e-mails stay on the server until I decide when to delete them", which means he can read them if he wants as well (and he did, by the way).

In addition, you must know many e-mail messages are reviewed by governmental supercomputers. In theory, this is just to help police and army forces stop international criminals; in practice, though, temptations can be big, and people can fall into temptations.

That said, you must never send passwords, credit card numbers, a company's financial information, opinions about an individual or his activities, or any other information which you, or your receiver may either use as proof, or deem sensitive. You will save yourself a lot of troubles if you do. The fact e-mail exists does not prevent people from meeting in person, or calling each other to talk about sensitive matters. Do that instead, or learn about encrypted e-mail communications.

There is no need to (use) spam

Spam messages, those uninvited e-mail communications sent to us just to try to promote a product or service, will now and then appear in every in-box. If that happens to you, please, delete the message. Again, do not show any mercy: delete it. I will explain to you why so that it will be perfectly clear:

Spam messages are sent by individuals known as spammers. Their job has two parts: First, they store as many e-mail addresses as they can, and feed a few databases. Once the number of addresses has risen to a few thousands, the second part is to get clients. They will offer clients to send their ads to a large number of people for a bargain price. Once a client appears, they get the ad, set up an e-mail broadcasting software , and then send the unwanted commercial information to you. It takes about ten minutes, rounding up.

Most people delete their spam, but still about 1% of the receivers open the message. From that one percent, about 12% buys the product. Do your maths: If you pay, say, 100 bills to send a commercial message to 750,000 people, and 900 of them buys... it is business (that's why spam doesn't just disappear); however, you saturate hundreds of e-mail servers in the process, and make 749,100 people both feel uncomfortable, and waste time deleting your ad. OK, you might not mind if you are selling a product, but 749,100 definitely do. That's why sending spam is considered an ill-treatment, an abuse, and must be stopped.

That said, please do not hire spam; and put your two pennyworths to kill it by deleting all spam you receive, no matter how attractive they appear to you. In addition, when sending copies of a message to a group of people, use blind carbon copies (BCC). That way, you are leaving spammers fewer e-mail addresses to harvest.

Keep your messages personal

One of the things I dislike most about e-mails is when people use it to send you a template, or ―worse even― a chain message. Most people will, actually.

That said, if you don't want anybody to ever hate your messages, follow these three simple guidelines:

+ If you are going to write me, write me: use my name, talk to me. If you don't know who I am, keep your message polite, friendly. If you ever write for a business reason, please, drop the usual jargon and just be clear. There is a person behind every e-mail account. Never forget that.

+ Never just forward me a chain message. It doesn't really matter how beautiful, enriching, jaw-dropping, mind-blowing, hilarious, ridiculous, or (any other adjective you want to use) the message is; I won't read it. Now, if you send it including something like "Hey, Jorge, you know? I think you might like this message", things are way different. Keep your e-mails personal. They are communications between persons, after all.

+ Avoid large attachments. Sending attachments is a helpful feature of e-mail correspondence, but not everybody uses a free web-based e-mail account. That said, keep your attachments small: reduce the photos size, upload large files to a file sharing application and send just the download link... things like that. It will just make using e-mails more comfortable for everybody.

Computers + Online