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Friday, August 28, 2009

mails I wish I could skip


Don't get me wrong, I love to get emails. In fact, as long as the emails are not nuked by the spam filter, I read each and every one of them. I might not give a response immediately, but I seldom skip an email. However, there are few types of e-mails that I wish I could just skip, thereby saving my and the everyone else's time.

that starts with "Dear Sir/Madam". Nothing wrong with it of course. But if someone knows my email address, a little check with Google would reveal my gender and my full name. However, with that Sir/Madam thing, I cast a suspicion upon the content of the email (likely a spam anyway).

that asks "how to download FooBar". Maybe s/he reads one of my articles or a post in my blog. But normally I always state the web site of that particularly interesting program so that people can try it. Usually I give her/him the benefit of doubt and send the first few links I find by googling (or lmgify-ing) on "download FooBar".

that only says "I tried to do X and it did not work". Unless I have a crystal ball, how on earth could I possibly know the problems? Shall I forward this email to Uri Geller, or any of his successors, then?

that requests suggestions for a (final) project. If I do not know the sender (what s/he's studying, what the interests are, etc), well what would I say then? I can mention anything, e.g. create a rocket that flies us to Jupiter, but that wastes more of our time.

that ends with "Please help, it's urgent" or something similar. As much as I would like to help, I also have a life, and I have my own sets of problems, too. And so does everyone else. True, urgency requires a delicate handling but I am not in business of waving a magic hand. Beside, we are not in the kindergarten anymore, screaming does not make the solution comes faster.

that asks for some architectural diagram of my example code. It's soooo "corporate". Seriously, do you expect me to fire up Rational Rose and draw colorful charts (flying arrows included) for a 300-lines example program? Some people fail to see that an example, just as the name implies, is meant to be taken as an example.

that is closed with a very long signature. It's fine for the legalese purpose, but isn't it ironic when the mail signature is ridiculously long, sometimes up to 4x longer, than the content of the mail itself? And when the email is basically a set of some of the points above, the signature is like adding an insult (a terrible one even) to the injury.

Do you ever get other types of annoyances like that?


Anonymous said...

Dear sir/madam,

Please help, I tried to download Foobar for my (final) project and it didn't work, could you please give me some structural diagrams of code for a download manager?

Yours sincerely,
Paul, a college student who is having trouble downloading something for his final project and would like help in the form of a diagram, it's urgent!

Ariya Hidayat said...

You forgot "I have doubts", before "Please help, ...".

tia@gpl said...

Something still missing,

Your Sincerely,

Student of Computer Science
Dept. of Computer Science
University of Computer Science
personal mail (serious):
personal mail (no serious):
university mail:

ah, then still goes another 13 lines for his email address (which we already know), his snail mail address, phone number, his extension number, etc. etc.

and guess what, we will get this signature on his every reply.

Oh, and Paul doesn't forget to put some nice words in the end of each every email.

-Save Tree, Don't Print this email unless necessary-

:) sorry to put long comment on your post

Anonymous said...

Maybe a muted trumpet would be more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I hate these "the contents of this e-mail is intended for the recipient only. If you are not the recipient, you have to delete this e-mail and notify the sender" type of signatures. Is this actually legally binding? What if I start reading the e-mail out aloud to someone before reaching the signature?

Another issue is HTML-mail with tiny fonts.

moltonel said...

Two other that annoy me regularly are top-posting (yeah, call me old-school) and IM chat from people I chat with every day who insist on the lengthly greetings you'd expect in a face-to-face dialog before finally asking their question.

As for the lenthly legalese signature in my own emails... I fought against it using many arguments, and lost :(