A friend of mine recently got hired to create an adult evening class on email etiquette. Always interested in offering my thoughts, I offered this suggestion for a rule of email ettiquette:
Do not include someone on a BCC list unless you are regularly sending them personal emails and the topic of your BCCed email is something they are DIRECTLY interested in.
Doing otherwise comes off to many people as if you are SPAMMING them. It feels impersonal. It can also be a nuisance to some people. They may not complain because they don’t want to risk damaging their relationship with you.
There are good alternatives.
You can address the email directly to the person. You can add a line at the top explaining that you thought the subject might interest him/her. You can use his/her name in that introductory line. This method has a personal touch. This method will make person will feel as if you are making an effort to stay in touch and be their friend.
If the alternative above is too much work you can set up a blog. Blogs are made for people who regularly want to tell people about what is on their mind. Blogs are free. Blogs are easy. If you can set up and use a web based email account, you will not have any trouble using a blog. Blogs are that easy. Blogs also come with RSS ( Really Simple Syndication ) built in. RSS updates people when a blog they subscribe to is updated. They can choose to see these updates in an RSS reader. They can also get these updates on a web page like their MSN, Google, or MyYahoo account pages. The important point is that with RSS they see updates of your thoughts when they choose to see them, not when you BCC them.
Blogs have the added benefit of making your insights available to the whole world as they will be published on the web. If you want something more private you can get a blog through a free service like LiveJournal.com where you can set who sees and who does not see your posts.
I’m not criticizing anyone with this post. I used to be a bit compulsive with BCC lists myself. Luckily I had some brave and tactful friends educate me to the fact such emails are not always appreciated.
If you are regularly in contact with a person and write on subjects that are of direct interest to them you are fine. If not, one of the two alternatives above will turn what feels like a spam into what feels like a warm gesture to stay in touch and preserve a friendship.
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