The Old New Thing

Making some statements and asking for advice isn't a question

This is a corollary to Don't forget to ask your question: Making some statements and asking for advice isn't a question. When we do X, and then select Y, and then click the Q button, we get an error message saying that Q can't be performed because "The computer Z that Y refers to cannot be contacted." Can you provide ...

Email tip: I don't have my bug numbers memorized

Far too often I'll get email like this: From: X Subject: 27183 Have you started looking at this one yet? It may surprise you to learn that I do not memorize all my bug numbers. Please include a brief description of the bug in your message so I have a clue what you're talking about. The bug title is a good start. It's like going to a ...

Just because you say something in my presence and I don't raise an objection doesn't mean that I agree

This is a sneaky trick that people try to pull occasionally. They'll say something while I happen to be present (either physically in person or virtually by adding me to an email conversation) and see what my reaction is. If I don't say anything, then they assume that I agree with whatever it is they said. Just to make it official: Just ...

Email tip: Lay off the massive email signatures

All too often I see email like this: From: X Is there a way to turn off Q? Thanks, X Support Professional Microsoft Product Support Services Tel: +123 456 7890 Extension 1234 Email: X@microsoft.com In case I am unavailable and you need urgent assistance, you can contact the following people: My Backup: Y, Phone: +123 456 7890 ...

Email tip: Don't ask the same question multiple times in different groups

If you have a question and you want to ask multiple people or groups, do not send the question individually to each group. Just send the question once with your recipient list on the To line. If you send it individually, then each recipient will not know that you asked the question to other groups as well. This in turn creates wasted effort ...

Email tip: People didn't answer your first email for a reason

It is said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Consider: From: X To: Group Y Question blah blah blah. A day or two later: From: X To: Group Y Resending due to no response. ------- Original Message ------- From: X To: Group Y Question blah blah blah. You didn't get a response ...

Email tip: Don't add people to a thread without saying why

If you add me to an existing discussion, you have to say why. Do you have a specific question for me? Do you want my opinion on something? Are you just sharing a funny joke? Sometimes, I'll get a piece of mail that goes like this: From: Xxxxx To: Aaaaa; Bbbbb; Ccccc; Raymond Adding Raymond. --- Original Message --- ... Gee, that's very...

Email tip: Choose a subject line that is meaningful to the recipient, not to the sender

Presumably you want the recipient to read the message. That's why you sent it. It would behoove you to select a subject line which conveys to your reader the purpose of your message. Otherwise your reader is likely to ignore it for being too vague and uninteresting. Here are some actual bad subject lines I've seen. Suppose your Inbox had a...

No good deed goes unpunished, part 2

Sometimes you're better off keeping your fool mouth shut. When I reply to a question on an internal discussion list, often with a clarifying question rather than an answer, it will occasionally happen that the person I replied to will send a response directly to me rather than including the discussion list. This is bad for a few reasons. ...

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