Do people know how to use email?

People’s email is what grinds my gears. Most people seem they have never written an email to themselves to check how loathsome they can be and, what’s more, I can assure you that most of people who proudly call themselves “computer scientists” or “computer engineers” fall into these errors too. The most common pitfalls are these ones:

  • imageUnable to write a proper subject (or no subject at all).
  • Abuse of words such as: urgent, important or quickly.
  • Top-posting.
  • Carbon copy and blind carbon copy fields.
  • Signatures too long.
  • HTML emails.
  • Writing chat-speak.

Unable to write a proper subject (or no subject at all)

How often do you receive emails like “You gotta check this out”, “Will you come?” or “I wanna tell you something”? If I made you smile, you probably feel like me. These phrases tell you utterly nothing about the message. You have to read the message to know what it is all about. These people write the message in reversed order. In first place, the message and finally the subject.

For instance, they write in the body of the message “BBQ at Jon’s” and put “Will you come?” in the subject. This is all wrong!

But it can be even worse: no subject at all. You have to read the message to figure out what the subject is. This really grinds my gears. About 90% of times, you also find that people who wrote it, didn’t express themselves clearly.

600px-Nuvola_apps_important_blue.svgAbuse of words such as: urgent, important or quickly

Yeah, if you took enough time to write it must be important. Otherwise, why didn’t you bother? But is it all that necessary to state it after each line? I don’t think so. If it is all that high priority, phone me instead.


Although some times top-posting can be okay, 9 out of 10 times it is being misused. If you don’t know that it is top-posting about, read its Wikipedia entry. Quoting Wikipedia:

“Top-posting includes the entire parent message (and usually previous messages) verbatim, with the reply above it.”

If your email does not expect any answer or a short answer this could be right. Whereas if you are going to have a discussion, then try inline replying for each one of the points an delete what does not matter.

Carbon copy and blind carbon copy fields

People don’t know about their function nor their purpose. I hate when someone writes a message to a large group of unrelated people and put all emails addresses in the “To” field. They are revealing my email address to bunch of people I don’t know and whose intentions could be impolite.

Signatures too long

image This is one of my favorite pet peeves. Some people don’t understand what signature means. My signature is two lines long and I still think it too long. Most of the times, I see signatures with name, address, company name, department, phone, fax number, cell phone, email, web site, blog, a quote from a book or a movie and some JPG logos all packed in an HTML table at the end of every email. And, for the record, they often attach a contact card.

And they sent all this crap to answer with a simple “Yes”.

HTML emails

Okay, now everyone use an email client that supports HTML emails rendering, but it is yet annoying maintain an email conversation with someone writes HTML emails. Even more when you are using web clients like Live Mail.

Writing chat-speak

Email talk is FREE and almost unlimited au contraire mobile phone SMS messages. Why do people write chat-speak in email messages? Checking orthography, spelling, punctuation and syntax is free. Almost everyone in Europe and USA has received free education until 18, what did we do wrong that almost everyone write that bad? When I receive an email like this, I just ignore it. I don’t like spending time deciphering the message,

I know people make more faults than the exposed here, but these are what grinds my gears. Do people know how to use email? What do you think? Feel free to comment.

Do people know how to use email?