E-mail mix-up highlights more reasons to be careful online

Posted: Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Thank you Peninsula Clarion for printing my article on guidelines for writing e-mails. Now, here is a situationthat had me quite baffled for a while:

I had written my first draft andsent it to Dan and Heidi Chay for their valued input. Dan made several very good additions which I added to the only version I had saved in my computer. I also made some other changes which includedthe order of the list. I called the newsroom and spoke with Phil Hermanek, who told me the e-mail address to use to send the article. I read the paper on Oct. 21 and noticed the original version my first draft was the one printed.

I went back to my computer, opened the only versio I had saved, and it was the latest one and included Dan's additions.

I reopened the e-mail sent to the Clarion, opened the attachment and it was the latest version. The only thing after talking the problem through with Heidi that we can come up with is the computer remembered sending this article before, reached in and used the attachment I had sent to Dan and Heidi. If any of you IT's out there have a different possibility let me know. Here are the thoughts contributed by Dan that you should add to your list of reminders when using e-mail:

Use descriptive subject headings.

Try to imagine how your words will be received.

Hold it for a day or two before sending if the subject material is sensitive or if you are writing in anger.

E-mails should be brief with short sentences.

When sending to multiple recipients, use the bcc field.

Acknowledge messages received.

Answer promptly, and answer all questions.

Be aware that irony and humor is often misconstrued.

And one last word of advice from me (as I have learned in a veryironic way and thankfully with no damage): save the final version of your documents in a different name than the first draft and then trash the draft.

Thanks again to the Clarion and to Dan and Heidi Chay, my trusted colleagues on the governing body of the Center for Mediation and Community Dialogue.

Shirley Gifford


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