RFC - e-mail in tough environments
mk at fsfe.org
Wed Dec 9 19:05:02 UTC 2009
I just published a blog entry . Although I explained this topic a lot
of times in the past I never wrote down the most basic principles of
e-mail usage. Now I finally did it so I can point friends who are news
in the Free Software community to this short guide. If you find it
useful I will add it to wiki.fsfe.org.
Would you go to a job interview in your sweatpants? Would you sent
your CV with handwritten corrections? If you answer those questions
with no, you might also want to write professional e-mails. The Free
Software community is a tough environment when it comes to e-mail
usage. This short guide tries to help you that the community
perceive you as a professional communicator.
- *Quotation* As a general rule: Do not quote the whole e-mail
again, neither above your message, below or in the middle. Quote
only the parts which are necessary. Use inline replying (for
examples see Wikipedia’s article on posting style ) and trim
messages if possible.
- *Subject* Choose a good meaningful subject line. “e-mail”, “help”,
“hello”, or “questions” are not good subjects ;). When the topic
of an e-mail changes, it helps to change the subject, too. Often
it is beneficial to separated threads into different thread with
- *Line break of e-mails* Should be around 72 characters. Nobody
will kill you if it is 70 or 74 or even 76. But a lot of people
will get angry if you do not have a line break at all.
- *E-Mail signature* Keep it small and simple. Signatures longer
than five lines should be avoided. The separated for the signature
is “– ” (minus minus blank) and then line break. The blank is
important as many e-mail programs then know that it is a
- *Mailinglists* Use list-reply. It is not necessary to include the
sender in To: or Cc: if he is subscribed. If the e-mail programs
are configured correct the sender will be Cc’ed if he is not
subscribed or wishes to be Cc’ed.
- *Forwarding e-mails* When you forward e-mails try to give a short
summary of the e-mail. Forwarding a huge e-mail thread to a list
with only “FYI” will make you no friends.
- *General remark* The better you structure an e-mail and the better
you present the content — the higher is the chance that people
will read your e-mail.
If you like it you can also vote for it on fsdaily .
Looking forward to your comments,
German Coordinator, Fellowship Coordinator
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)  (http://fsfe.org)
Join the Fellowship of FSFE!  (http://fsfe.org/join)
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