Whether it’s contacting a webmaster, site owner, tech support, submitting an essay in a contest, or enlisting the help of a blogger, e-mail is an incredibly unreliable form of communication. From my experience, e-mail is slow, and delivery isn’t guaranteed. This article will focus on my peeves with e-mail as a communications medium.
Check Your Spam Folder
Since I signed up for my Flickr Pro account, I have tried and tried to get my friends and family to join Flickr so they could see my pictures. Flickr has a nice built-in “invite” tool that auto-sends invites to e-mail addresses of your choice. The problem, however, is most of those people getting the invite will never even see the message. The message is probably going straight to that person’s spam folder.
Blame it on the spammers. If there wasn’t such a thing as spam, then there wouldn’t be a thing called the spam folder. Every e-mail you intended to send to somebody would reliably get there.
But spammers are prevalent. Spammers are a nuisance. And spammers won’t stop. So spam filters are here to stay, and so is the spam folder.
Whenever I contact a fellow blogger and do not hear back, I try not to take it personal. For one, the blogger could be very busy. I know I am. Two, the e-mail could have very well ended up in the blogger’s deep and heavy spam folder. Or three, the e-mail could have been lost in oblivion.
It’s not the blogger’s fault the e-mail is not getting to him or her. It’s the darn spammers. So please check your spam folder every now and then. I might be sending you a message.
Lost in Oblivion
Many website owners have nifty little contact forms built into their website. I have one too. The problem with these contact forms is that they are notoriously unreliable. The e-mail may seem to be sent from your end, but the form settings could be screwed up and the e-mail lost forever. You are then left sitting around wondering why the site owner never responded.
In my experience, it’s always a good idea to have multiple ways to get a hold of a person via the web. E-mail does not guarantee delivery.
E-mail is Slow
For somebody that’s always on the net, I usually respond to e-mail rather quickly. But most people aren’t like me. Most people check their e-mail once a day or every other day. I once tried to schedule an appointment with my therapist via e-mail.
Me: “I have Tuesday open. Do you have any slots open on that date?”
One day passes.
Therapist: “I only have Friday at 1500 open. Are you available then?”
Me: That sounds good. I’ll see you then.”
Two days pass.
Therapist: “I’m sorry. I scheduled the 1500 appointment before I got this e-mail. Can you do next Thursday?”
Good thing I wasn’t in a life or death situation. E-mail could have killed me.
My Personal E-mail Filter
When I receive an e-mail, the first thing that pops up in my head is, “Is it spam?” If it’s not, then I ask myself, “Is it a scam?” If the e-mail is not spam or a scam, I then ask myself, “Is it a forward or chain mail?”
After the e-mail has gone through those three internal tests, I ask myself, “Is it one of those stupid global e-mails that everyone in the company receives?” If it’s not any one of those, then I might open up the e-mail and read it. Even if I do decide to read it, I skim it to see if it applies to me. If it doesn’t, to the trash it goes.
I am a trained e-mail filter. And so is everyone else that uses e-mail extensively.
E-mail is Mis-used
I do not miss forwards. I do not miss chain mail. I do not miss jokes.
I don’t think I’ve ever found a forward that was remotely interesting. I don’t think I ever proved my love for God by sending the e-mail to twenty people. I also don’t think I’ve ever read a joke that I haven’t already heard before.
E-mail is for communicating. It shouldn’t be used for useless trash.
E-mail Sucks For Communication
There are things e-mail should never be used for:
- To terminate an employee.
- To break up with someone.
- To initiate divorce.
- To threaten someone with deadly force.
- To convey humor.
- To convey sarcasm.
- To convey any affection for that matter.
E-mail is just words on a screen. It takes a very talented writer to communicate an emotion via the writing. Judging from the e-mails I have seen, not many people are talented writers. People try to place emphasis that a deadline must be met, but that e-mail is just one click away from the trash. One I hit delete, the deadline no longer exists. And since e-mail is so unreliable, I can say that the admin restricted all incoming e-mail because my inbox was too full. Oops.
Why Bother With Read Receipts?
I have no idea why anyone bothers with read receipts. Every time Outlook asks if I want to send a read receipt, I click “No.” Everybody else I talk to does so also. Read receipts might be a good idea to ensure that everybody who needs to read the message has, but it’s only putting a small band-aid on the e-mail problem.
E-mail is a fact of life. I use it constantly. But I also realize the limitations of the medium. I’d rather call somebody or talk to the person face-to-face than e-mail. E-mail is impersonal and unreliable. I use it when I have to.