First published May 2003.
Further to my previous issues this subject continues – part III.
This month I’ll share on Topic Changes and Read Receipts. Both can give you some trouble if you’re not careful.
This applies particularly to discussion groups, but could also take place in normal everyday exchange of emails between two or more people.
It is common that subject matter in emails change quickly – one person might send an email with one topic, another replies and it prompts them to add another topic in that reply and then others start replying to the changed topic – but forget to change the subject heading – which can be very confusing for those later joining in the discussion and difficult to relocate one of the originating messages if filed away electronically – with the unchanged subject heading. This applies to searching through archives online also.
When responding to an email take a moment to think about it – are you changing the topic, should the subject heading be changed and whether the replied message requires any trimming of the original message before hitting the ‘send’ key. This can be particularly important when responding to business leads or enquiries relating to your business. A general rule of thumb for email seems to be to keep the number of topics discussed to a minimum – and start new email messages for new topics.
Auto Responders and Read Receipts
A supplier, who gives me excellent computer support, had been receiving a lot of emails over the past few months and she struggled to keep up with them in her busy workload. So, she decided to set up an auto respond to emails saying she’ll be in touch within 7 days. She also added ‘read receipt’ so she knew her message had been read.
Not long after I started getting a lot of emails from this supplier, all with the same message (autorespond). I’d sent her a few messages some days before about a computer problem a client was experiencing. After around 75 of these messages I rang and left a message on her pager. 150 more emails and I rang again. Her business partner rang and said he was heading back to their office to see what was happening. More emails.
My supplier rang the following morning sounding very sheepish. She hadn’t thought about the consequences of an auto respond linked with a read receipt. In her defence, she’d been very tired and was working late. Every time my computer logged another of her responses it sent back a read receipt and her autoresponder sent another reply to my read receipt, autorespond, read receipt, autorespond, read receipt, autorespond………. get the picture? I had some idea of what might be happening but could not stop the process. All I could do was block her email address at my end until she woke up to what was happening.
Just thought you might appreciate what can happen if read receipt, and auto respond are used together without thinking as to why you would do that. Of course, if you use them separately you are unlikely to run into this kind of trouble. Next month I’ll touch on using the Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) field and the use of backgrounds for your emails. KMT