comsc US Politics | AMERICAblog News: Online Etiquette 2.0
Join Email List | About us | AMERICAblog Gay
Elections | Economic Crisis | Jobs | TSA | Limbaugh | Fun Stuff

Online Etiquette 2.0

| Reddit | Tumblr | Digg | FARK

This is one in a series of posts about how to best use the Internet in a way that gets your message heard and doesn't tick off the person you're trying to influence. I usually tick some people off by writing this, but that's okay, because they tick me off when they spam me. If people want to be effective advocates - be it on this site or by writing to other bloggers, journalists, etc., my advice should help. So here goes.

And a quick caveat. About 2/3 of the emails I get are amazing. They're incredibly useful, they include great scoops, great ideas, and more. I love it. And most of the info I post here, at least a lot of it, comes from tips you guys have sent in. The other 1/3 of the emails I get, however, are crap. And those of you who DON'T send me crap, know it already - because you've either seen me post your stuff or send you a nice email back, etc. And when you get hundreds of emails a day, and that number keeps increasing every day, and the percentage of crap emails keeping increasing every day, then that impacts my effectiveness, but more importantly, it impacts the effectiveness of everyone trying to email journalists, bloggers, and more. So, here's my advice (or screed) for those people.

1. I've said this before, write a GOOD subject line.

Preferably something descriptive. For example, someone recently emailed me about changing the way I set up archives on the blog. A good email. The subject line was "archives" - I thought it was spam. Perhaps a better one might have been "suggestion about blog archives." The idea is to be detailed in 4 or 5 words, it helps a LOT to get your email noticed when the guy receiving it gets hundreds of emails a day. Oh, and when you reply to an email, consider changing the subject line rather than having a series of "re:" back and forth.

2. Don't put me, or anyone else, on an email list without our permission, or you will be shot.

It's rude, plain and simple. You put me on a list, I will ban your address and hate you. If you're trying to get sympathy for your cause, or get me to listen to your advice, don't make me hate you. This guy for example,, has been spamming me for weeks with crap. When I asked him to stop, repeatedly, he got all nasty with me, banned my email address from his aol account, and is continuing to spam me - but because he banned my address I can't ask him to stop again. That's a really good way to get me to not listen to you and to get your own email account shut down (and if anyone works at AOL, please get this guy).

3. Sending me emails about articles you want me to post and not sending me the URL of the article.

Now, I know some people don't totally understand what a URL is or how to email one, and that's cool. But lots of big non-profits, for example, send out mass emails of their press releases, sometimes very interesting press releases (like the other night, there were lots of press releases about reaction to the Roberts nomination), but they don't put a link to the release or statement in the email itself. How do I link to something when I don't have the link? Same goes for articles, how do I know an article is real, or link to it, if you don't send me the link? Again, remember that the guy on the receiving end is getting hundreds of emails a day, there simply is no time to go hunting for the URL of each email that didn't include it. Do you want to have influence or not? You won't believe how many big organizations just don't think of including the URL of some thing they want me to post.

4. Look at my blog, or whoever's blog you're emailing, and see if the article is already on the blog before writing to tell me to post it :-)

Often, it's already there. I don't have this problem too often, but other sites I work on do. People email all the time an article that's already on the site.

5. Conspiracy theories. I don't buy em. Don't send em.

Tony Blair didn't blow up the Tube. A missile did no crash into the Pentagon on 9/11. And Jeff Gannon isn't some kidnapped kid from Iowa or wherever who was forced into a child sex ring. Enough already.

6. Asking me to link to your blog. I don't have a blog roll. I don't want to have a kitchen-sink list of thousands of blogs because then the list is meaningless. I link to sites that I actually like. That means I won't link to your site until it becomes one of my favs. And that takes time, as I don't get to read a lot of other blogs, just too busy. Sorry, but I just don't find the never-ending list of blog links very useful.

7. Having said all of that, I do like to get emails recommending good content for the blogs - articles you've seen, good blog entries on other blogs - and in fact, it's the primary way I get info for this blog. It's just that as the email traffic increases in my in box, and it has, the quality of what I get has gone down a lot recently. And that doesn't help me, or you.

8. Sending people stuff that you know is crap.

Now, I don't mean to be harsh, but I just got an email, and you know who are, about some African king of Buganda, or something, visiting some grade school or something in Boston. Now, why in God's name would the readers of AMERICAblog care about that? If this were just one email, I'd delete it and that would be that. But I get this kind of stuff all the time. And I work on other news Web sites that get even worse bs than this.

Please, please, please. We're getting hundreds - and I mean hundreds upon hundreds - of emails a day. It's hard enough to read them all, and I try to read them all, and generally read each one, because I think it's rude not to. And more importantly, you guys send good stuff. But when more and more of the incoming emails are just crap that you know has nothing to do with AMERICAblog or the kind of stories we post, then please don't send it. All you do is tick me off, or tick off the reporter or blog or other news site that you're writing to. I mean, what's the point of that?

9. Emailing bunches of people at the same time, over and over again.

What I mean here is, not thinking of what AMERICAblog readers might be interested in, but simply emailing whatever you have to a set list of people including me, FOX News, ABC, Jeff Gannon, and President Bush. I got news for you - most of the people on that list don't read a thing you send. And for the rest of us, if Jeff Gannon and George Bush are both cc'd on something you send me, that's a pretty good signal to me that you haven't even given it any thought as to whether the email in question is even appropriate for this blog. Don't do it.

Again, sorry to be bitchy, but some people need to learn how to use the Internet better so that they, and we, can all be more effective. I'm writing this because I KNOW the other bloggers are having the same problem I'm having, so I consider this a service for them all.

And if you get ticked off cuz I wrote this, so be it. I'm ticked off about getting emails about the King of Buganda.

blog comments powered by Disqus