Think Before You Forward

Monday, February 12, 2007 21:39
Posted in category Internet

E-mail has become the most popular messaging medium. It’s faster than Postal Mail (snail mail) and best of all, it’s free. When you send an e-mail, the recipient doesn’t need to be on the other end to get your e-mail right away. It’ll be there when he or she gets around to checking their e-mail. E-mail makes our lives much easier, but in some cases, this can be its downfall.

The most common misuse of e-mail is forwarding e-mails. I for one enjoy receiving the occasional joke or picture sent by a friend or colleague. In some cases we rush to forward this to share with other friends. Two more common groups of e-mail received can be categorized as a Chain Letter and the other of Impending Doom. The Chain Letter is generally a story or joke which end with a catch. In order to avoid bad luck, you must forward the e-mail to as many people as possible. The second group, Impending Doom, warns all of a coming tragedy and that you must warn all that will head these words.

In order to make your e-mail experience that much richer, please allow me to make the following suggestions.

Think Before You Forward

When forwarding an e-mail message, make sure you’re forwarding it for the right reasons. Forwarding a message should have a specific reason. Don’t just do it to prove to everyone in your address book that you’re still alive. Receiving only forwarded e-mail messages from friends generally gives the feeling that they’re too busy to bother with a personal message. So, before you forward that e-mail, think about why you’re sending it to certain people.

Add a Personal Touch

In order to avoid the feeling that your forwarding an e-mail just for the heck of it, add a personal touch. Above the forwarded e-mail explaining why you forwarded the e-mail and how it relates to its targeted recipients.

Verify Your Facts

All too often, people receive an e-mail with a plea to forward information to everyone you know. It’s been common to use viruses, kidnappings and general information as the subject. Before blindly following the instructions of the e-mail, verify the facts. Not everything on the Internet is true.

One of my personal favorite websites is Snopes. This site does its very best to keep up to date on the latest rumors that float around the Internet. They verify whether if the rumor is true or not. If you spend some time searching (more than 2 minutes) you can usually find any subject.

Strip Out Personal Information

If you’ve ever seen a long forwarded e-mail message, it’s generally not been due to the content. It’s usually filled with headers. A header is part of the e-mail that prefaces who the e-mail is from, where it’s going and what the subject was. Sometimes even more bits of information will be included. Before forwarding an e-mail message along, be sure to clean it up a bit so that the recipients will not need to scroll all the way down to the end of the e-mail.


BCC means Blind Carbon Copy. Any e-mail address in this area will not be seen when the e-mail arrives at its target. This is a great way to send people e-mails without divulging a mountain of personal information. There’s a good reason for this and it all comes down to viruses. Viruses come in all shapes and sizes. Some viruses exploit your e-mail address book. Some viruses will even search through your e-mail in order to find more people to attack. They can use that list to send harmful e-mail messages to unsuspecting victims. This is another reason why e-mails should be cleaned up before the send button is pressed. One good idea would be to put your own e-mail address in the TO box. Then you can put all your intended recipients in the BCC box.

Beware Attachments

E-mail has the wonderful ability of carrying files along with the message. Many comical e-mail messages I’ve received contain pictures files. Just remember that not all files are safe. Sometimes, a virus can be contained in relatively safe looking files. We all know that if a file ends in .EXE or .ZIP, then it’s very suspicious. Recently, flaws have been found in other programs. Take for instance Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. These files will look just fine when you open them. They will show you the PowerPoint presentation you were intended to see. They can also secretly execute code and install malicious software on your computer without asking. This is even very difficult for anti-virus software can catch. Be very careful in what you open. Viruses are getting more difficult to remove and the last thing you want to do is format your computer.


E-mail is fun. E-mail is exciting. E-mail will remain that way as long as you put personal effort into it!

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