Things that I most hate about corporate email

I know that posts like this can get me fired, but I guess it’s better to let out all the negative energy on my personal blog and without names of the guilty ones, instead of killing or badly injuring one of my precious collegues one of these days.

I realize that most people are computer illeterate and that most of them don’t think even for a second about the recepient of their message. And I’ve learned to ignore a lot of uglyness in emails. But there are some things that annoy me to the most.

In no particular order these are:

  • A whole message in the subject.

    Instead of writing subject in the subject line and body of the message in the body of the message, some people simply put the complete thing into the subject line. So, instead of “Client XYZ billing” they write something like “Leonid, we need to so close the issue with XYZ billing as soon as possible. Please give it your highest priority. Let me know if you need any help with this issue.” Seriously. Not having a subject is annoying enough, but this … this beats everything and still has some. The only way to make such message even worst is to ask a question that needs response, and do it all in the subject line.

    For obvious reasons, this example is totally fictional. But, trust me, there are way too many real world examples of this.

    Everything is bad about this message. First, when I see the listing of messages, I get the “contains 0 lines” stat, which looks very suspecious. Now it is too easy to move this into SPAM folder. Secondly, reading this message is a pain. Subject line has no wrapping and at such length rarely fits on the screen. And thirdly, and most painfully, there is no simple way of replying to this message without creating a mess. Quoting of the original will have something like “Once you wrote about “Leonid, …. “” and there will be nothing quoted, like sender hasn’t wrote anything.

    As a result – I get pissed, because I can’t read it properly, and annoyed, because I can’t reply properly, at the same time. Not the best side of me.

  • Heavy signatures.

    Long time ago there were email clients that would display a warning in case a user was trying to append a long signature. Four lines of text is more than another for anything any sane person would consider putting into signature. Name and email (although I can get both from the From: field), mobile number and office extension, company name, sender’s position and even company’s website address, where, by the way, I can get all the rest – all can fit into four lines of text.

    But – “No!”. People want to put everything they know in the signature. And then copy it over a couple of times. And if that wasn’t enough, they would attach a bunch of images – company logo, their picture, and something for the good mood too.

    That’s just perfect. Especially when you get all those 100 KB attached to the message with a mere “Ok.”.

    Luckily, I tought my email client to chop it all off and ignore it as much as machine can.

  • Inline replies without any quoting.

    This one comes from people who are trying to look computer literate without taking two steps (search Google, and read through the results) to computer literate themselves.

    It goes like this – in the discussion someone rights “I think we should disconnect this client and charge him for the full month of services.” And than someone else replies to this saying – “Read my reply inline”, which is followed by “I think we should disconnect this client ok and charge him for the full month no half is enough of services.” Can you even see this? And how can you respond to this?

    Is it so freaking difficult to add at least a line break? C’mon… it’s just a single Enter key we are talking about…

There’s more, of course. But I already feel better. And why bother writing it all down? They won’t read it anyway. They won’t find it. They don’t care about it…

And there is nothing I can do about it. I tried.

8 thoughts on “Things that I most hate about corporate email”

  1. Agree on all above, and also add the very known issues like “Empty subject” and “HTML or even worse Rich Text messages with all the colors, different font sizes, all in CAPS with some pictures just to ask one question!”

    Really hate this as well, but in most cases I try to add some note in the reply like:

    BTW: some subject would be nice :)

  2. I am using mutt to get rid of all the formatting. All I get is plain text. Always.

    Regarding empty subjects – we’ll it would be nice to have one, but it’s not so annoying to me. Most people who leave out empty subjects don’t know what are they writing about anyway. :)

  3. I could endure most of what you described except the whole message in the subject. I remember actually missing some emails because my SpamBayes filtered them out.
    And you know better than me the person who liked to misuse subject line when we worked together :).

  4. adding to the heavy signatures is my complaint of always tacking on a disclaimer every time an email is sent. Do we really need a disclaimer if it’s an *internal* email??!! So then by the time it seen by an outsider, there are already 3 disclaimers amended to it. A little overkill I’d say!

    I hate the replies inline too. In my case, it usually means I have to open my Outlook to get the color coding part. Can’t we just live in a text email world?

    Utopia apparently.

  5. Hi Vips,

    Yey! I totally forgot about the disclaimers. Our company is sane enough not to use them at all. But I do occasionally correspond with people from other companies who have disclaimers. Annoying!

    If they absolutely must have a disclaimer I’d recommend either using a link to a version on the web, or including the whole thing in the headers (X-Disclaimer?).

    Good point.

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