[Hpn] Consideration and Effective Use of the Net

Anitra Freeman anitra@speakeasy.org
Sun, 11 Feb 2001 18:41:21 -0800 (PST)


I have been told that some folks consider my recent announcements of
Themestream articles to be spamming for Themestream.  I am sorry if
anyone has gotten this impression. Those who have known me for many
years know that I am always looking for new places to "get the word
out" and that when I find them I announce them to everyone here and
encourage other people to use them too.

This has prompted me to write some more :) about considerate and
effective use of email.

Some things I consider to be spam:

1) E-petitions: 
In effect, they're self-perpetuating chain letters over which their
originators have no control whatsoever. In true chain letter fashion,
the same "signatures" are replicated over and over in multiple copies of
the message. In the absence of identifying details such as physical
addresses and phone numbers, the names listed on these petitions are
unverifiable and easily faked. They're unlikely to carry much weight
with anyone in authority especially as compared, say, to a flood of
personal messages from a comparable number of individuals.
A good alternative: 
Create a Website to function as a clearinghouse for reliable information
and a place where concerned people can organize, share their views and
strategize.  Circulate the link.

2) Hoax "virus warnings"
Most "virus warnings" are hoaxes.  It doesn't take any more time to
verify the warning than it does to send it on.  If you care enough about
your friends that you don't want them to catch a virus, then care enough
to make sure your virus warning is authentic before you stuff their
mailbox.
Good places to check:
http://www.snopes.com -- searchable database
http://hoaxbusters.ciac.org/ -- How to recognize a hoax
http://www.netsquirrel.com/combatkit/ -- The Urban Legend Combat Kit

Other things that overload mailboxes and can be changed with a little
consideration:

1) Replying to an email and not cutting *anything* out of the original
text -- including the complete text of all of the previous replies

2) Forwarding an email and including all of the addresses in the
original post and all of the > characters at the beginning of each line.
Ever try to read one of those? With three pages of addresses and then 
text that reads like:
 
> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > verify the warning than it does to send it
on.  If you care enough about
> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > your friends that you don't want them to
catch a virus, then care enough
> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > to make sure your virus warning is
authentic before you stuff their
> > > > > > > > > > > > > > > mailbox.

Not only is this hard to read, but consider all the extra space those
addresses and > characters are taking, and the slow modems that some of
us have.

Another thing that cuts the space you take up in your friend's
mailbox: Post a link instead of the text.

I know that some of the folks here have only email access, and
not web access: that is why Tom Boland usually posts both the URL and
the text of interesting articles he finds.  I prefer to post only a
summary, and the URL, and send the text separately to individuals who
ask me for it.

One reason for posting a web address instead of the whole
article is that some things end up circualting forever and losing the
credit to the original author, or any link to the original source for
confirmation and updates.

Even for the lighter side of email, those joke lists and funny
stories that circulate forever, *someone* originated them first.  I like
to post the ones I run across on my website, with *credit* and a link to
the author.  This also helps readers find new funny stuff. :)

Some things that aren't spam:

1) A link in your signature.  This is a considerate way of letting
people know where to get more information about you, so that they can
judge your credibility or find more material on what you mentioned.

2) The ads at the bottom of emails, like the Themestream announcements,
posts from Juno or Hotmail accounts, posts on egroups lists.  Most of us
can only afford to use free Net services -- and this is how those
services remain free, by selling advertising.  

Ironically, those ads are most noticeable on the shortest posts -- the
ones that are considerately trying to not take up much space in your
inbox.

Write On! / Anitra L. Freeman / http://www.speakeasy.org/~anitra/
"We can't help everyone.  We can't fix everything.  It hurts. 
 But it is better to live with pain than to live without caring."