Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | July 11, 2017

10 tips on better emails or social media posts for newbies

Originally written June 18, 2007 and revised on July 10, 2017
Some helpful email tips for Internet newbies from a regular email list and Facebook user
1. LOWER YOUR VOICE! Typing an e-mail all in capital letters (uppercase) is considered shouting or screaming, and may make your messages appear angry. In fact, some forums or discussion lists will not permit messages written entirely in caps, and computer users who type all in caps in such forums may find their messages ignored by other members and delated by admins. Typing in mixed case (using proper capitalization) is better. If a disability keeps you from typing properly, all lowercase is considered much more acceptable than all caps. If eyesight or physical limitations make caps or using a large font more practical, you might want to preface your message with a quick note like (CAPS DUE TO EYE ISSUES) so your messages aren’t misunderstood. Even better, learn how to use your computer or device’s magnifying tools.
The many Facebook groups, messageboards, feeds and e-mail discussion lists out there are very tempting. However, learning about the forums you’re interested in getting involved with before you join will save you a lot of time and frustration. For all forums, it is recommended that you read their website, pinned posts or FAQ’s before signing up, as well as read without posting for a few days to get used to things (commonly called “lurking”). Most (except for so-called free speech forums) have certain guidelines or terms of service you must agree to before participating. Make sure you find out how to register or subscribe/unsubscribe before doing so, especially when subscribing to a mailing list. Nothing angers mailing list users quicker than sending an unsub request to the whole list!
3. CHECK IT OUT! Most of us have gotten one of these at some point: an outrageous story about something that is supposed to be true but allegedly never made the news, an e-mail promising some type of reward for forwarding it to so many people, a warning about a virus that no anti-virus software can fix, or someone offering something that sounds too good to be true. These are commonly known as Urban Legends, hoaxes, or scams. Snopes and Truth or Fiction are some good options, for starters.
I’m sometimes asked, “But what’s the harm in forwarding it anyway? Some of my friends just like getting e-mails” Unfortunately, e-mail hoaxes can create problems which will be addressed in another post. My advice? If a friend of yours just likes receiving e-mail, even a short personal note every day or so will probably be appreciated. In fact, most people probably prefer a personal note from their e-mail friends now and then over a lot of forwards.
Viruses. Yuck! Not only do computer users have to worry about viruses, there are also Trojan horses, “password sniffers”, and other malicious files to look out for. These will be discussed in further detail in my Virus section. Your best defense is to have an up-to-date anti-virus program installed. There are some files out there that aren’t viruses, but can damage your system if opened. As a precaution, avoid downloading attachments from people you don’t know. If you have a high-speed connection (cable, DSL, etc.), using a firewall is recommended. CNET is a good resource to find recommendations for anti-virus/anti-malware and firewall options.

5. WARN ‘EM FIRST! If you’re sending an e-mail as an attachment, it’s a good idea to warn your recipients first, since some people will delete e-mails with attachments unread if not warned beforehand. Also, please keep in mind that just because your e-mail program supports pictures, sound files or stationary, doesn’t mean everyone else’s does. What looks like a beautiful e-mail with nice stationary, lots of pictures, and background music on your computer may simply show up as three pages of code, or worse, as a multi-file attachment on someone else’s. How do you compromise? You may want to find out from your friends whether they can receive pictures, HTML, etc. in their e-mail or not. Send the pretty ones to your friends who can, and send a plain text version to those who can’t. Also, keep in mind that e-mails that have been forwarded numerous times may sometimes be automatically converted into attachments that can only be read using certain mail programs. More on eliminating this problem can be found below.
Never add someone you’ve met to the list of people you send e-mails to without asking them first. However well-intentioned, sending someone a lot of e-mail they haven’t asked for may still be considered spam, and you could lose your ISP account if someone complains. Don’t risk it.
It’s advisable to use one of the free mailing list services availiable, rather than simply creating a group in your address book. Mailing list services make lists easier to manage and you also don’t have to worry about adding or removing people to a list yourself, since your members can sign themselves up and also unsubscribe themselves. Another consideration, too, is that if you create a group in your address book and don’t have a way to back it up if your system crashes, your whole list will be lost. A free mail list service, such as Yahoo Groups or Mail Chimp helps eliminate the possibility of your recipient list being permanantly lost. Regardless of what method you use to manage your mailing list, NEVER add ANYONE to your list without their permission. Better yet, provide them with the information on how to subscribe, and let them sign up themselves if interested. All mailing list services have strict rules against unauthorized sign-ups, and even if you send e-mails out using your address book, you could still be accused of spamming if you add someone to your list without permission, and lose your ISP account. Again, please don’t risk it!
Have any of the following ever happened to you? 1.) You send an e-mail to friend, and get back a response from someone you don’t know saying they thought it was funny. 2.) A friend sends you an e-mail that’s a hoax and you (and several other people) get an angry reply back from an address you don’t recognize. 3.) A friend forwards an e-mail to you and several others, and someone sends everyone on the recipient list an invitation to see their website.
This is what happens when someone replies to an e-mail using the Reply All button, instead of Reply. While the Reply All button does have its uses , for the most part it shouldn’t be used when replying to something your friends have sent you. If you hit Reply All, a copy of your response is sent to everyone the original message went to. Depending on what ISP you use, this could be construed as spam, so it’s best to leave the Reply All button alone.
Have you ever received e-mails that appeared to be long, but when you read the message, 75% of it is headers (information showing where the e-mail came from), and only a small portion is an actual message? E-mails like this not only can be difficult to read, but also tend to convert into attachments automatically, which can be a problem for many computer users. Also, it leaves behind of trail of information about who sent the e-mail to whom, which isn’t good for privacy. How do you clean up your e-mails?
Highlight the part you want to forward (NOT including the headers showing who it was originally sent to) with your mouse, select COPY from the EDIT menu, open a new e-mail and select PASTE from the EDIT menu. (If it doesn’t paste automatically, make sure your cursor is inside the new e-mail). Now, send it as you would any other e-mail. If you don’t know how to copy, and paste, here’s how. Windows users, highlight the text you want to copy, then hold down the ctrl and C keys. Paste it into a new email by pressing ctrl and V. Mac users, use the same process but use the Command Key (with the apple on it) instead of ctrl.
Also, contrary to popular belief, e-mails with attachments do NOT have to be sent as forwards. If you receive an e-mail with an attachment you want to share, download the attachment, open a new e-mail, and attach the file you’ve just downloaded to your e-mail.
What IS blind-copying, anyway? It’s a feature provided by most e-mail programs that allows you to send e-mails to several people without everyone seeing everyone else’s e-mail address. Why is it important to blind-copy when sending e-mails? First, it keeps the e-mail from becoming unnecessarily long. A list of 20 recipients in the To: field is enough to make your e-mail twice as long as it needs to be. The second, more important reason has to do with safety. Many people forward e-mails to friends without deleting the original headers. Once you’ve forwarded an e-mail to your friends and they’ve sent it on to their friends, and so on, you have no control over who ends up seeing your e-mail address or your friends’ e-mail addresses. You could find yourself getting a lot of spam mail, or being contacted by strangers with ill intentions.
Most e-mail programs give you a choice of putting your addresses in the To; Cc; or Bcc field. Always select BCC (blind-copy). (Please note-some e-mail programs require you to put something in to To field anyway, even if blind-copying. If this is the case with your e-mail program, you may want to put your own address in the To field). What if t if your e-mail program does not have a blind-copy feature at all? First, make sure there isn’t something you have to do to make the BCC field show up (your email app’s Support section should tell you). If it turns out that your e-mail program doesn’t provide a blind-copy option at all, I would suggest signing up for a web-based e-mail account for sending e-mails to your friends. Also, I would recommend contacting the maker of your e-mail program and urging them to add a blind-copy feature. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.

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