070216 – Friday – Bad E-mail ettiquette

<miss manners rant on>

Miss Manners

I get a lot of E-mail from friends and sometimes my correspondents will copy a whole bunch of us at once. Well, in many cases, when I see this, I cringe because they are committing a huge faux pas – which I know they are unaware of.

Consider these two E-mail headers:

To: jim@abc.com; mary@xyz.com; john@123.com
Cc: marty@yahoo.com; Ollie@hotmail.com
Subject: bad E-mail security


To: dennis@samadhisoft.com
Bcc: jim@abc.com; mary@xyz.com; john@123.com; marty@yahoo.com; Ollie@hotmail.com
Subject: good E-mail security

In the first header, the sender is unwittingly sharing the E-mail address of every person he’s written to with everyone else on the list. Now, in the early days of E-mail, no one would have cared much. But now, privacy has become a real issue in all of our lives. I sometimes get E-mails with the addresses of dozens and dozens of people I don’t know this way. People whose E-mail addresses I really have no business having or knowing unless they care to share them with me.

Lucky for us, our E-mail programs have a way to allow us to send E-mails to many people at once without making all of their E-mail addresses public to all of the others. It is called the Bcc field where ‘Bcc’ means ‘Blind Carbon Copy‘. In the second header, above, I’ve sent my five E-mails to the same five people but now when they receive them, none of them will be able to see the other’s E-mail addresses. All they will know is that they received a copy of an E-mail I apparently sent to myself.

This can be useful in another way too. Consider the following E-mail header:

To: myboss@bigcorp.com
Cc: personel@bigcorp.com
Bcc: max@bigcorp.com
Subject: cubicals are evil

So, here I’ve written a letter to my boss and I’ve copied it to personel as a cover-my-ass move. But, in addition, I want to fill my friend, Max, in on what’s going on but I don’t want anyone else to know that Max is in the loop. In this case, Max will get a copy of the E-mail and no one else will be the wiser.

Now, sometimes the Bcc option is not displayed for you when you are writing an E-mail. It’s there, you just have to find out how to make it visible. In Microsoft’s Outlook E-mail program, when you are writing an E-mail and you have the new E-mail open on the screen, pull down the View Menu and you should find a menu item called ‘Bcc field’. Put a check mark in front of it to turn the Bcc field on.

<miss manners rant off>

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