Internet Tutorials | John
Faughnan | Robert
Email and Lists: Rules of Thumb
Whatever email software you use, it should have these
features. Email software is something you will use every day.
It's more important that it be powerful and fast rather than
simple and easy to learn.
- Able to organize messages into folders or mailboxes.
- Sort messages by sender, date, priority, etc.
- Ability to filter messages into folders based on sender,
- Able to comfortably handle thousands of messages. Email
software that make every message into a separate
"file" bog down with large numbers of messages.
- Uses a file format for messages (ascii) that you can read
even without the mail program. Over the years you'll
accumulate tens of thousands of messages that may have
significant archival value. If they're stuck in some
obscure file format, they'll eventually become unuseable.
- Be sure address book is either ascii based (can read with
a text editor) or that it can export into some useable
- Lots of shortcuts that you'll take advantage of with
- Simplicity permits reliability.
- Try before you buy (most products now have trial versions
available on web sites). Email software must be fast to
- Changing your email address is a royal pain. Try to get
an address that will last. Alumni organizations almost
always offer email addresses to alumni, these will last
as long as you pay up each year.
- You don't need to use the email address that your
Internet Service Provider gives you. You could pay an
local or national ISP for
your local dial-up network connection, but use the email
services of your distant alumni organization.
- Free email services are purchased by subjecting you to
junk mail. Service is often abysmal and these companies
are not long-lived.
- Whatever email service you use, find out how you can
forward your mail if you decide to go elsewhere. Don't
use an email service that doesn't support forwarding!
- It is often convenient to have multiple email boxes on
one account (family account, small business). See if your
email service provider can do this.
- Some companies and organizations promise an email address
for life. They give you an address which is an alias
or pointer to your real email address. You use this alias
as though it were your email addresss. You can change
your real email address, but your correspondents can
continue to use the alias address. This service is
inexpensive to provide, and many respectable
organizations provide it for members. (Such as the
Association for Computing Machinery.) Beware offers of
free email forwarding. It's likely your name and address
info will be sold to Spammers.
- Sarcasm doesn't work on email. Use smileys when meaning
might be ambiguous :-)
- Don't reply to every message you get. Use short notes.
- It's easy to forge an email message. If a message you
receive seems odd or out of character, confirm it by
- Be careful about opening an email attachment. A classic
attack is to send someone a forged email, with a harmful
program attached. The forged message is from a trusted
associate, and the program is disguised as something
benign. A Microsoft Word or Excel spreadsheet attachment
can carry a dangerous "macro virus".
- Don't send something by email that you wouldn't want
everyone in the world seeing.
- Be careful you don't send a personal message to a public
- If your email package does not do automated filtering,
subscribe to the digest version of a list. If it does do
automated filtering, subscribe to the regular version.
- Don't send "unsubscribe" messages to everyone
on a mailing list. It's quite rude. If you don't know how
to unsubscribe, email the list owner.
- When you join a list, save the message that tells you how
Last Revised: 01 Feb 2002. Author: John G. Faughnan M.D. and Robert Elson M.D. Disclaimer:
The views and opinions expressed in this and related pages are strictly those of the page
authors. Anyone may link to or print out any of these pages.