Things Worth Knowing About E-mail

I first wrote E-netiquette and L-netiquette as part of a workshop on uses of the Internet for medical laboratory professionals (June 1998, Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science Congress).

E- and L-netiquette are used as resources for students in Medical Laboratory Science, University of Alberta.

I have adapted material from many sources. Do a Web search using "netiquette" as a key word to get an idea of the variety of resources available. Most of all, I have drawn extensively on my experience as the listowner of MEDLAB-L, a list with 2400 subscribers in 50 countries.

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Technical tips (Also see Writing sensible e-mail messages)

  1. Use lower case letters for e-mail addresses (even though it really doesn't matter). URLs for the WWW used to be case-sensitive but no longer are.

  2. To delete several sequential e-mail messages at once, use the shift key when selecting each one. Alternatively, to delete all sequential messages at once, select only the first message and the last message in the series using the SHIFT key.

  3. Sometimes you will want to copy and paste text between e-mail messages and Web browsers and the COPY/PASTE commands will not be available in the menu. [For the shortcuts below, if you have a Macintosh, use the COMMAND key (apple logo) instead of the CONTROL key.]

  4. Send attachments to people only if you know that:

  5. Most (if not all) warnings about viruses (trojan horses, worms, etc.) that "wipe out" all computer files are hoaxes. Some of the more famous hoaxes include the GoodTimes, PKZIP 3.00, and Irina viruses. More information about real viruses and hoaxes can be found at these Web sites:

    Do not pass on these virus hoaxes to friends (or mailing lists) without searching these sites and Google Groups for the supposed virus's name. When you get the results of the search, look particularly for hits in the newsgroup alt.comp.virus.

    If a virus warning contains two or more ! (e.g., !!!), I guarantee that it is a hoax.

  6. To prevent being infected via e-mail, never open attachments from someone that you do not know well. Never open attachments that end in ".exe" no matter whom they are from.

  7. If you do not have a firewall and virus protection program such as Norton 360TM, get one. Then protect against new viruses with free weekly visits to the company's website.

  8. Do not get snookered by chain letters. A chain letters is any e-mail that asks you to pass the letter to someone else, usually as many people as possible. Either delete the letter or pass it to your system administrator.

  9. Be sure to visit Urban Legend Combat Kit by Patrick Crispen, which provides canned responses to help stop the spread of these types of hoaxes.

  10. About needle-stick and HIV hoaxes, see these sites:

  11. Once you have e-mail it will be difficult to give it up when on holidays, although you probably should. <;-)

    Good manners

  12. Do not use all capital letters, as this is considered SHOUTING.

  13. Unfortunately, the written word often comes across as harsh without the benefit of eye contact, voice inflection, and body language. That's why we have smilies (emoticons) such as <:-( and <8-) If you are joking, use an emoticon or type "grin" inside less than and greater than symbols.

  14. Do not forward personal messages that you receive to others without the knowledge and permission of the original sender. Like all mail, the senders of e-mail have the right to expect that their correspondence with you is private. It is common courtesy that you would not break that trust without their consent.

  15. That said, consider everything that you send by e-mail to be public. You never know where it will end up. It is simply too easy for people to forward messages by e-mail. Because of this, make it a rule never to say anything in an e-mail message that you would not say in public.

  16. Be aware that employers have the right to examine e-mail that is sent and received on company e-mail accounts. In effect, the e-mail is their property. This also applies to student e-mail privileges on university accounts and laboratory information systems. Often an employer or university will use this right only when investigating wrong-doing. Keep in mind that laboratory information systems are to be used only for laboratory-related business.

  17. Medical technologists love acronyms, which is a good thing since communicating on the Internet is full of them. When you use one with a friend for the first time, give the explanation. For example:

    Consult Acronym server & Acronym finder


  18. Always use a descriptive subject line. Some people discard e-mail without them.

Also see:

Writing sensible e-mail messages | L-netiquette |   Shea's Netiquette |  

© 2001 Pat Letendre

All rights reserved. Pat Letendre retains intellectual property rights to the internal contents of this page, which may be used for educational purposes only. Any commercial use of these materials in whole or in part by any means is strictly prohibited.

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