13 Things Every Email User Should Know
(The best thing you can do if you get a message fitting any of the below categories is to reply to the author, pointing them to this page. So please bookmark it. :-)
- Big companies don't do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is NOT giving you $1000, and Disney is NOT giving you a free vacation. MTV will not give you backstage passes if you forward something to the most people. You can relax; there is no need to pass it on "just in case it's true." Also, surprising though it may seem, just because someone said in a message "we checked it out and it's legit," does not actually make it true.
- There is no "Good Times" virus. In fact, you should never, ever, ever, forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first confirm it is not one of those on The Computer Virus Myths Home Page. And even if it isn't, don't forward it. We don't care! And you cannot get a virus from reading an email (unless you are using Microsoft Outlook, because Microsoft consider catching viruses a "feature" of their mail program.) You should never, in any case, download, view or execute attachments from anyone unless you are absolutely certain of what it is.
- There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to his cousin. If you are hell-bent on believing the kidney-theft ring stories, please see this article. And I quote: "The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. None have." That's "none" as in "zero." Not even the cousin of your friend's friend.
- Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they do, we all have it. And if you don't, you can get a copy of it here. Then, if you make the recipe and decide the cookies are awesome, feel free to pass the recipe on. On paper.
- Turn off "HTML encoding" when writing email. Although you may think it's cute to send e-mail with text in different colours, or at stupidly large sizes, those of us on Unix shells can't read it. And it means people have to download three times as much data to get their e-mail, which isn't nice if you are using a modem. Please only send HTML e-mail to people who specifically ask for it, and never send it to public mailing lists or newsgroups. Instructions for turning off HTML e-mail: Eudora, Netscape, Internet Explorer.
- Don't send any message where the CC: list is longer than the actual content. This is one good way of telling that a message is not worth reading.
- If you still absolutely MUST forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who's received it over the last 6 months. It sure wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the ">" that begin each line. That might even make it readable.
- If you forward anything because "something bad will happen if you don't," then something bad will happen to you if I ever meet you in a dark alley. If you are still scared, then forward it here.
- Don't misuse attachments. If you are sending text, send it in the body of the email, not as an attached Word document. Not everyone has Word, and it makes the email much bigger and harder to read. Similarly, if you have a large file, put it on the web and email the link. This is far more efficient.
- Craig Shergold (or Sherwood, or Sherman, etc.) in England has recovered from cancer and would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards and get-well-soon cards. His house gets several sacks of unwanted mail a day. He is also no longer a "little boy".
- The "Make a Wish" foundation does not use email to raise funds. It is a real organisation doing fine work, but they have had to establish a special toll free hotline in response to the large number of Internet hoaxes using their good name and reputation. It is distracting them from the important work they do.
- Women really are suffering in Afghanistan, but forwarding an email won't help their cause in the least. The email which normally does the rounds has a non-functional return address, so it's useless anyway. If you want to help, contact your local legislative representative, or get in touch with Amnesty International or the Red Cross.
- Everyone on the Net knows each of the 500 ways to: drive your roommates crazy, irritate coworkers, and creep out people on an elevator. We also know exactly how many engineers, college students, Usenet posters and people from each and every world ethnicity it takes to change a light bulb. So please don't tell us again.