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Things to Know

E-Mail Forwarding Etiquette
29 Oct 2004

     E-mail is probably the second most important communication tool invented in the 20th century, right behind the telephone. Its convenience and ease of use also make it very easy to abuse. Like most emerging social technologies, there are no established rules about what is accepted and what isn't. However, there is some etiquette that, when observed, will make the Internet experience much more pleasant for everyone. asked the people who know - veteran e-mail users - to name a few things they would like all e-mailers to do or consider before forwarding that message. Here's what they came up with:
     Ask for permission. If you frequently forward messages (warnings, as well as feel-good messages or jokes), ask those you send to frequently if they want to be included. Also ask for their permission to forward something they sent you - don't assume that their consent is implied.
     Check the facts before forwarding a message. You've got the most powerful research tool ever known to man right at your fingertips - USE IT!! Read "How to Research a Chain Letter" at the bottom of this pagr for steps that will help you verify information quickly and easily.
     If you must forward a message to more than one person, do it by putting all of the e-mail address's to the bcc: line not the To: line.
     Don't "piggy-back" personal notes on forwarded messages. Many veteran e-mail users automatically delete messages if they see FW: in the subject line. We assume there is nothing of value in the message, thus your personal message is lost. If you want to tell your friends and family something, dedicate a message to it.
     Check your e-mail program's settings to see if it forwards messages as attachments or in-line text. Most of the time, in-line text is best because it is the easiest to read. Many times a message with an attactment will be deleted without opening as a virus protection.
     Check your settings to see if the program automatically inserts leading characters (such as ">>") before each line of the message when you forward it as inline text. Disable this feature, as it often messes up the message's line formatting and makes it very difficult to read. (Some programs and services like Yahoo! Mail do not allow you to turn this off. In this case, it is better to "copy and paste" to a new message).
     Clean it up before sending it out. Forwarded messages automatically include a "header" that lists everyone the message was sent to last time (and possibly every time) it was forwarded. You could be violating somebody's privacy by sending out their name and e-mail address without their permission. Also, delete any ">" characters in the body of the message inserted by other people's e-mail programs. It may take a little time, but the recipients will appreciate it. If the message isn't worth this little bit of effort, maybe it's not so important after all. EmailStripper and eCleaner are free downloads that make it easy to clean up a message.
     Forward the ORIGINAL message only! If the message is nested in a series of forwarded attachments, try to work your way down to the one that contains the actual message, then copy and paste it into a new message. This way, the recipient doesn't have to double-click through all those blank Forward messages or scroll through pages of headers. Attactments may be deleted by the recipients spam filter.
     Never forward something that "could be real." We realize that you're only trying to be helpful and conscientious, but you could be doing more harm than good. If you're not sure about a message's validity, contact a friend who might know and ask him or her, or search If we don't have it, submit it for breaking. Don't forward anything that you don't "know" is true.
     Delete any part of a chain letter that begs, bullies or shames the reader into sending it. This insults the recipient and sends the message (however unintentional) that you don't trust him or her to be responsible and intelligent enough to decide what is worthy of forwarding. You may have not felt that way when you got it, but you never know who you might offend down the line.
     If the chain letter contains a poem, joke or other thing you want to forward and lots of other stuff you don't, forward only the parts you want. You don't have to send on every piece of mail exactly as you received it. Delete the parts you don't like or copy and paste the parts you do into a new message.

How to Research a Chain Letter

     When an e-mail hits your inbox with the instructions to forward it on to everyone you know, it is SOOOOOO easy to do just that. We do so dutifully and without thinking. But wait! It could be a hoax, a scam, or worse! Before you forward it, check it out at
     Find two or three keywords in the message. Use names (people, places, things) as keywords.
     Enter your keywords into our search form and click "search." Visit the search page for tips on getting the most from the search engine.
     If it's not in our database, visit the forum to see if someone else has encountered the same message.
     When you've exhausted all the resources has to offer, check out these links for many other great places to check. -- Religious-Spiritual
     Urban Legends

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