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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Email thread embarrassment

Sometimes email threads are embarrassing. Let’s start to count the ways:

#1: Not PC title

Surely nobody would use the “N” word in the subject line of an email, but I’ve been on a long thread recently on “Spanish parade”.   Except that it’s not the “Spanish parade”.  It’s the Hispanic Pride Parade, which is something else entirely.  Mexicans (and other Latin Americans) may speak Spanish, but they aren’t Spanish.

#2: Wandering off topic

I have co-workers who will just find a old email and hit reply, even though they are starting up an entirely new topic. This means the subject line has nothing at all to do with the message.

This is dysfunctional. Most of us who get over a hundred emails a day use the subject line to decide whether we need to read the email now, or whether it can wait until later (or ignored). But if the topic is one that got resolved earlier, or where the issue is now  being handled by others, I see no reason to hurry up and read the email.

Even worse, when I file the email I like to have the subject line correct so I can more easily find the email if I would need to (and if I would never need to, I wouldn’t keep the email).  This means I have to change the subject line and then email it to myself so I can file it correctly. This is a waste of time.


There will be more.

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