Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How the public service announcement is being received

Most people don't respond to the Public Service Announcement regarding your email privacy email that I send out anytime I receive an email containing many emails of people I don't know. But when they do they are either very supportive or quite annoyed. Here are most of the replies I've received:

"BRAVO! Outstanding, well-written (and highly entertaining) message...and for almost every recipient on the "XX distribution list," probably the most useful and informative message of the year.

"Don't email me again please. You too are spam."

"Joe Geek, Thanks for, in your words, the PSA. ... Keep up the education campaign; knowledge is power. We appreciate someone taking a non-abusive approach to communication."

"Oh my god, you are my new favorite person. THANK YOU for sending this out!!!! I hope everyone takes it to heart & makes changes in their habits."

"While I can appreciate your angst because you care deeply about your email address, I am guessing you're this frustrated because you didn't follow your own advice in the section:
Q. How can I protect my email address?A. It is actually a good idea (imperative, in my opinion) that you sign up for a secondary address to give out to EVERYONE BUT YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS AND FAMILY...
While I do believe you believe you're doing everyone a great service here, you're actually doing what you seem to hate most...spamming people. I'm sure this is my personal opinion not shared by everyone, but I have found your tone and attacks to be very negative in a setting where I rather wish not to encounter such tone."

"you are annoying, get a life."

"i have no questions, I'm not seriously concerned because most people I know aren't flaming idiots taking the time to email people they don't know because they have nothing else to do. stay paranoid :)
I will stay worry free..."

"I am grateful for the information. I have screwed up many times, but in other ways, eg., sending a personal email to others who should not be privvy to the email! Argh! So embarrassing. Thanks!"

"Great response. I will be forwarding it to some email offenders on my email list. Thanks."

"Thank you Joe. I can think of many abusers that need this kind reminder. It's a scary thought "that people JUST DON'T KNOW BETTER", but probably true. Now if I can just find a polite way to get family and friends to stop sending me FWD's. I will CUT AND PASTE your words and send to a few not so aware acquaintances. Thanks for the info and the reminder."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Diplomats told not to 'reply all'

Here is an article I found on the wire reports:

WASHINGTON - Many "reply all" fiascos result in mere
embarrassment, but American diplomats have been told
they may be punished for sending mass responses after
an e-mail storm nearly knocked out one of the State
Department's main electronic communications systems.

A cable sent last week to all employees at the department's
Washington headquarters and overseas missions warns of
unspecified "disciplinary actions" for using the "reply to all"
function on e-mail with large distribution lists.

The cable, a copy of which was obtained by The
Associated Press, was prompted by a major interruption
in departmental e-mail caused by numerous diplomats
hitting "reply all" to an errant message inadvertently
addressed and copied to several thousand recipients.
"Department staff hitting 'reply to all' on an e-mail with a
large distribution list is causing an e-mail storm on the
department's OpenNet e-mail system," says the unclassified
cable that was sent Thursday by Under Secretary of State
for Management Patrick Kennedy. He said the result was
"effectively a denial of service as e-mail queues, especially
between posts, back up while processing the extra volume
of e-mails."

The cable orders employees to "take immediate action" to
ensure they and their colleagues are "aware of the
negative impact of hitting 'reply all'" and to delete e-mails
addressed to large numbers of people that they might
receive in error.

"Anyone who disregards these instructions will be subject
to disciplinary actions," Kennedy wrote in the cable,
which begins: "Please ensure widest distribution of this
message." Officials
said the storm started when some
diplomats used the 'reply all' function to respond to a
blank e-mail sent recently to many people on the
department's global address list.

Most demanded to be removed from the list while others
used 'reply all' to tell their co-workers, in often less than
diplomatic language, to stop responding to the entire
group, the officials said. Some then compounded the
problem by trying to recall their initial replies, which
generated another round of messages to the group,
they said.

The cable sent out by Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy is somewhat misguided and confirms how widespread people's ignorance of the use of email is.

Yes, the message of restricting the use of Reply-All is valid. The person needing the most reprimanding, however, is the original author of the email that DID NOT USE BCC. Had they used BCC NOBODY could have used REPLY-TO-ALL. BCC names do not appear in Reply or Reply-All emails.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Isn't the public service email spam?

So I sent out the first email in response to an email broadcast I received today which did not use BCC:.

The first two responses I received were on polar opposites:
Don't email me again please. You too are spam.
BRAVO!  Outstanding, well-written (and highly entertaining) message...and for almost every recipient on the "XXXXXXXX distribution list," probably the most useful and informative message of the year.
Thank you!

The first responder is of course correct.  Which is the whole point!  It's easy for your email to fall in the hands of someone that you don't want it to!  My response to them was:

You are right, this can be considered spam as well, and I'm sorry for the bother.  But in order to protect my privacy I  am trying to get the word out.  If your email appears along with mine  in a mass email I will be sending this out again.  I recommend you contact the person that gave me your email address and ask them not to include your email in a distribution unless they use Blind Carbon Copy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Public Service Announcement regarding your email privacy

Q. Why am I getting this email?
A. You are receiving this email because we have someone in common who recently sent an email to a list of people, and in the process, shared every one's email address with everyone on the list. This is generally not a good thing to do. Your email address should be guarded like your phone number or social security number, and only given to close friends and family. I have decided to stop blaming the senders and accept the fact that people JUST DON'T KNOW BETTER. So I've decided to start a campaign to educate folks about email courtesy and self-protection.

Q. Why should I be concerned with protecting my email address?
A. I suppose you are appreciative of every piece of mail that you receive in your INBOX, right? What, you mean you actually get some unwanted SPAM? Unsafe email usage is one way, though not the most common way, that spammers find you. Sometimes it may be just a remote friend or friend of a friend, or friend of a friend of a friend; you get the picture, and perhaps they just THOUGHT you might enjoy some interesting tidbit. It is often easier for them to REPLY TO ALL, than to edit the list of emails removing people they don't know (Don't get me started on cleaning up the CONTENT of email containing forwarded email, that's for another time).

It's important to know, however, that once your email arrives into someone's inbox, your email address is potentially accessible to spammers if there is a virus on the computer that is designed to harvest emails from the computer. Normally it's the address book that is hijacked, but plain email can also be looked at for email addresses.
Q. How can I protect my email address?
A. It is actually a good idea (imperative, in my opinion) that you sign up for a secondary address to give out to EVERYONE BUT YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS AND FAMILY. I recommend GMAIL but there are plenty of other services offering free mail. You can set it up to FORWARD any email received at that address to your primary email address. So you only ever have to check one email address. If that secondary email is the source of unwanted mail then you just close it and create a new secondary email address.

That's the easiest way to protect yourself.

Q. How do I change my email habits to help protect other people's email address?
A. Glad you asked. To protect other's and not contribute to the unintended exposure of their email address, follow these guidelines when sending email to multiple recipients:

1. If everyone knows each other on the list and it is a fair assumption that they would want the others on the list to know their address, then go ahead and use the TO: or the CC: fields when composing mail. Just ask yourself "Does each person I am sending this email MIND that I'm giving their email to each person on the list"?.

2. If you are not sure of the question posed in 1. then DON"T USE THE TO: or the CC: Field, ALWAYS USE BCC:.
You have nothing to lose by using BCC and always a chance to expose someone to SPAM by using TO: or CC:.

3. The BCC: field may not be visible in all mail programs. But you can be sure it is available. You just have to find it or turn it on.

Q. So what exactly IS BCC:?
A. If you are old enough to remember the time before copiers and computers, in order to make a copy of a handwritten form, a form would include one or more CARBON copies usually yellow or pink. As you pressed down on the top white page when filling out the form, the bottom pages would also get filled out. These were called carbon copies. Email borrowed this term and applied it to sending email to other people (CC) besides the intended person (TO:). When you want to send an email to additional people but not let anyone know that these people were included, you put their names in the BCC field or Blind Carbon Copy field.

So to summarize:
1. TO: field recipients see who the other TO: recipients are as well as the CC: recipients but NOT the BCC recipients
2. CC: field recipients see everyone included in the TO: field and the CC: field but NOT the BCC recipients.
3. BCC: recipients see who the TO: recipients are and who the CC: recipients are but not any other BCC recipients

  • Use To: to target the primary recipient of your email
  • Use CC: to include people that may not be the main target of your email but that you want to FYI them AND when you want everyone to see who is being included in the distribution list.
  • Use BCC to protect people's email address and to not reveal who else was sent the email
Q. I have a question.
A. Any comment or questions, please go here
Or reply to this email.