The Tackett Family Association

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Some thoughts on Email and Bulletin Board protocol & etiquette


Jim W. Tackitt, President/Editor

There does not seem to be a defined protocol [procedures, ethics or etiquette] for the mushrooming growth in the use of electronic mail by the genealogist. Here are some of my thoughts:

If you are not tired of reading, you might want to glance thru the article below:



Do's and Don'ts of email etiquette:

An article by Mike Langberg, San Jose Mercury News. Mr. Langberg suggests these as being "the essentials":

· DO write a clear, concise subject line for every message. Email without a subject line is hard for recipients to categorize and, as a result, may not get the attention it deserves.

· DON'T attach files to your messages unless you've confirmed in advance the recipient will be able to easily download and open the attachments. Unsolicited attachments can anger recipients because they bog down the process of collecting new mail and hog harddisk space.

· DO check your in box regularly if you're giving your email address to friends or business contacts. It's difficult to carry on an email conversation with people who only collect their messages twice a month.

· DON'T write messages entirely in capital letters. IT'S THE EMAIL EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING AND IS VERY RUDE. If you want to add emphasis, YOU MAY capitalize one or two words in a sentence.

· DO use correct grammar and spelling in all messages, and always sign your full name at the bottom of the message. Most email programs now contain a spellchecker, leaving no excuse for sending a poorly composed message.

· DON'T engage in "flame wars," the Internet term for volleys of nasty or insulting messages. If you receive flames, ignore them. To protect yourself from accidentally getting flamed, avoid subtle humor and sarcasm that can be easily misinterpreted given email's inherent lack of social or emotional context.

· DO pick up the telephone and make a call if the information you need to convey is critical. Remember, email doesn't always arrive at its destination immediately, and there's no guarantee recipients will check their inbox right away.

· DON'T send a message to a long list of recipients who don't need to hear from you, or sign up others for a regular mailing list without first getting their permission. Also, double check the address on responses to group mailings to make sure you're replying only to the author, not the entire group.

· DO learn about the "blind carbon copy" feature in your email software, which hides the recipient list, and use this feature when sending messages to large groups. No one likes to receive email that begins with several screens full of recipient names.

· DON'T pass along chain letters, even if you're risking several thousand years of bad luck. Email chain letters are both illegal and annoying.

· DO show restraint in quoting from the original message when sending a reply.

Many email programs automatically copy the original's full text into the reply, but you should either erase all the text or only retain small portions that are relevant to your response.

· DON'T create a big "signature" for the bottom of every outgoing message, cluttered with the wisdom of your favorite philosopher or too-cute drawings made from letters of the alphabet. A signature should be no more than five lines, limited to basics such as your name, job title, address and phone number.

For additional information you may also wish to consult the site:


"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

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