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Send Me E-Mail
Copyright © 1999-2005, 2007, 2008, 2010-2012, 2016, 2021 by David E. Ross
But, before you send me E-mail, please read the following:
- NOTE WELL: One important feature of E-mail is that we can communicate without both of us being present at the same time. You send an E-mail message when you are ready, on your own time. I will read an E-mail message when I am ready, on my own time. When I leave my computer for more than just a very few minutes, I disconnect from the Internet. When I leave my house, I power-off my computer. I do NOT have even a dumb phone, let alone a smart phone. Thus, your message to me might not be read immediately after you sent it.
- I made it easy for you to send me E-mail by putting my actual address at the top of this Web page. Please return the courtesy by putting a real address in your messages to me. Note that this is an actual E-mail address, not the link to a Web page form. I most definitely prefer using real E-mail, with which I keep a copy of whatever I send and which I can address to more than one recipient.
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My name is David
. Do not send E-mail addressed to Dave
. I have never called myself Dave
I will give you only one chance. If you send more than one message calling me Dave, I will place your E-mail address on my filter list to trash all messages from you automatically.
If you have my postal address, do not send mail to Dave Ross. It is rude to address me by a name that I do not like.
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- No matter how important your message is, you should be able to express it using less than 75,000 bytes (75 KB). My E-mail client is set to download only the first 75 KB of any message. If I don't see anything interesting in those 100 KB, I usually have my ISP's mail server trash the rest of the message.
- Before sending a message with an attached file, ask me if I will accept the message.
- Although I occasionally send mass-mailing messages to friends and family, I never send spam. If you invite E-mail from me, please ensure you can receive it. Whether you use a local spam filter on your own computer or subscribe to an external anti-spam service, it is your responsibility — not mine — to unblock my E-mail address. I will not take the effort to register with a service or otherwise authenticate the non-spam nature of my messages.
- You may indeed disagree with my comments in one of my Web pages or in a message I posted to a newsgroup. But you should disagree without being disagreeable. If you do not know the difference, do not send me E-mail.
While I can receive HTML-formatted E-mail, I really prefer plain ASCII text. Right-justified text, colored type, fancy fonts, gratuitous graphics, et cetera all demonstrate not how clever you are but how annoying you are. More important, HTML formatting consumes too much space and too much bandwidth, can be a source of computer viruses, and might be rejected by spam filters. Also, too many E-mail applications create really bad, erroneous HTML. For details, see my ASCII E-Mail Only.
- Unless you request otherwise, I reserve the right to quote on my Web pages all or part of any plain-text message I receive. (Unencrypted, plain-text messages are the Internet equivalent of post cards, easily read by strangers.) I will always obscure the identity of the originator of any quoted message, especially the originator's E-mail address. If you do not want me to publicly quote you, let me know. Similarly, I reserve the right to forward your plain-text message to other individuals without obscuring your identity or E-mail address. Messages that I receive with PGP encryption, however, I will keep confidential unless we both explicitly agree to make all or part public.
- Sometimes, I receive a message with a warning similar to the following:
CONFIDENTIALLY NOTICE: This e-mail communication and any attachments may contain confidential and privileged information for the use of the designated recipients named above. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply e-mail and destroy all copies of the original message.
This warning is meaningless. As indicated above, "confidential and privileged information" should be encrypted before sending over the Internet. Your prohibition cannot be enforced. If you sent a restricted message to me by mistake, that is your error for which you must suffer the consequences. You cannot foist blame onto me for your mistake when I disclose your message to others.
- I never, never participate in chain letters, via either E-mail or postal mail. No matter how noble the cause, I always discard chain letters — even those that do not request money — without forwarding them.
Files attached to an E-mail message can be quite handy, or they can be disastrous. This is a very easy way to send a picture or useful software application. This is also the primary method of spreading computer viruses. Because of that risk, I trash — unopened — any unexpected attachments and the messages to which they were attached. This includes vCard files (extension .vcf), which I always delete without opening them.
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When I ask that you not send me attachments, I mean none at all
. That is, don't send me audio files, vCards, or winmail.dat
files. If you insist on sending HTML mail instead of plain ASCII
, please do not include gratuitous graphics (GIF, JPEG, BitMap, etc) used to decorate the background, borders, or lines between paragraphs.
Note that, contrary to popular belief, inline images in an HTML-formatted E-mail message actually travel though the Internet as attachments to the message. They are merged into the HTML only when the message is opened in an E-mail client. Furthermore, GIF, JPEG, BitMap, and other image files have been known to carry serious malware (e.g., viruses). Thus, I set my own E-mail client to block merging image files with messages.
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Aside from the risk of a virus, attached files can create other problems. E-mail messages are usually queued on a mail server in the order they were received. Before you can download newer messages from the server, you must first download older messages — and their attachments — that you have not yet seen. That is, until a message and its attachment are downloaded, you cannot access any subsequent messages. Further, some E-mail clients will lock while downloading, preventing you from reading or composing messages while you wait for a large attachment. To avoid these problems, I truncate any message more 100 KB (including attachments), leaving the rest on my ISP's server. What remains on the server, I often delete without reading.
Therefore, instead of attaching files to an E-mail message, you should consider making the files available through a Web or FTP server, from which the files can often be downloaded more quickly than through a mail server. Also, many FTP and Web clients have excellent recovery capabilities that allow them to resume from where they were interrupted if an Internet connection fails.
At the least (especially when you have no access to a Web or FTP server), first send an E-mail message without an attachment to ask whether your recipient is interested in receiving the attachment. Then, if you do attach a file to a message, indicate in the message what is in the attachment. Also, you should specify the type of file you have attached, either in terms of the application that uses it (e.g.: Word, Excel, Adobe Reader) or in terms of its file-type (e.g.: PDF, ASCII Text, JPEG). Do not make me examine the file extension to learn what kind of file you sent me.
For other opinions about E-mail attachments, see Larry Magid's The curse of attachments and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Using Caution with Email Attachments (note the first bullet under "What steps can you take to protect yourself and others in your address book?").
When you send E-mail to anyone:
- E-mail is NOT Twitter, and an E-mail message is not a tweet.
- Break your message into paragraphs separated by blank lines.
- Consider using a spell-checker. However, recognize that a spell-checker does not know the difference between now and not or between shudder and shutter. Therefore, you must not surrender judgment to the computer. (See my Malaprops and Other Writing Problems regarding how spell-checkers fail when a valid word is used in the wrong context.)
- Spend some time proofreading, not only for spelling but also for grammar and punctuation. No, I am not perfect. I too misspell words, use commas idiosyncratically, and adhere to strange grammatical rules. But I can comprehend your thoughts easier if I am not distracted by illiterate text that does not even make complete sentences.
- In general, compose your message as if (without regard to its contents) it were going to be posted publicly with your name attached. Would you be proud of how it looks and reads? While some claim the content is everything and the form is nothing, I give more respect to a well-written, literate message than to unstructured, stream-of-consciousness dreck.
- Embedded URIs should be bracketed by [ and ] (square brackets) or by < and > (angle brackets). This keeps adjacent punctuation from becoming part of a URI. It also helps to delineate a long URI that might become broken onto two or more lines.
The convention (RFC 3986, Appendix C) states:
Using <> angle brackets around each URI is especially recommended as a delimiting style for a reference that contains embedded whitespace.
For example, this page is at <http://www.rossde.com/mail_to_me.html>. However, I know that some Web-mail capabilities have problems with < and > in a message; therefore, I'll accept [ and ].
Messages that I send comply with the convention, which is recognized by most E-mail applications and even by such Web-mail capabilities as Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Some proprietary E-mail applications do not recognize URIs embedded in my ASCII messages. Also, the Web-mail capabilities used by some ISPs to allow their users to access E-mail remotely corrupts URIs embedded in ASCII messages. Since I comply with the convention, that is a problem with those applications and not my problem. I will not change how I send messages to accommodate faulty implementations of the convention.
- If you must send an E-mail message with an attachment (despite my tirade), make sure you know how. I finally convinced my son to stop sending me supposedly humorous executables that always arrived garbled. No, this is not a problem with my PC; before I retired, I very successfully sent files back and forth between my home and my office, where I had a different E-mail application at each end.
- Since before most Internet users were born, I have been a strong supporter of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of speech it guaranties. This freedom is meaningless if it only applies to opinions with which I agree or if it applies only to me. The scope of the First Amendment includes all opinions, no matter how contrary they are to my personal beliefs, no matter who expresses them, or how they are expressed.
However, I own my PC; and I personally pay for my Internet connection. Therefore, your freedom of speech does not require me to download, store, or read messages that are insulting, rude, or illiterate. Further, I too have a freedom of speech, which I can exercise in replying to any message you send to me. And I am not the only person who has this attitude.
- I never munge my E-mail address in E-mail messages. (I always munge it in newsgroup messages and on my Web pages.) If you want serious consideration of what you write, you too should not munge your address. I will not bother to follow instructions for reconstructing your address. There is no point in obscuring your address in an E-mail message that is not made public in the way newsgroup messages and Web pages are public. In any case, my ISP automatically blocks any E-mail from a non-existent domain.
- An E-mail message is not a letter. You might choose to have a salutation at the beginning of your message or a "Sincerely yours" at the end. To me, the "To:" in the message header is sufficient salutation. At the end of my messages, I often (but not always) place a comment. Note that any of my signatures begin with a separator line that contains "-- " (dash-dash-blank) and is otherwise blank; it is not "--" (dash-dash without a blank). Modern E-mail applications generally remove that line and everything after it when quoting my messages in replies. If you use such a separator line before your signature, be sure to include the blank after the dash-dash.
A winmail.dat file is an artifact of various Micro$oft E-mail clients
. It contains formatting specifications for messages that are not plain ASCII text. For most non-Micro$oft E-mail clients — including the client I use — a winmail.dat file is garbage that cannot be processed. Those Micro$oft E-mail clients that create winmail.dat files can be configured to disable the sending of those files. Please do disable them before sending me E-mail.
Last updated 23 October 2021
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