Email Etiquette for the 3rd Millennium

I just got another email with about 250 email addresses shown as recipients.  Now, if I hit “reply all” I can flood email boxes of people I’ve never met.  Which, I’m sure would just thrill them.  Of course, we all slip sometimes and forget proper email etiquette.  However, such slips can be not only embarrassing but costly. 

I’m showing my age…I remember using carbon copies, on a manual typewriter no less. Thus, the term “blind carbon copy” or “bcc.” Originally, people used it when they didn’t want one recipient to know that someone else received the same message. These days, doing business in the third millennium, email has become a vital tool. And, in addition to the original purpose, “bcc” should also be used as a common courtesy, so people don’t have to worry that everybody in the world has their email address. Also, some people (me included) tend to automatically delete an email unread when they see it’s gone to a large group. I assume it’s junk.

Such things aren’t just “nice to have” as pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly found out the hard way back in 2001. They sent out an announcement that it was discontinuing its Medi-Messenger service, an email sent to Prozac users reminding them to take their dose. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? The “oops” was that they also circulated the e-mail addresses of the more than 660 recipients, for all to see. Lots of very unhappy customers.