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Is forwarding funny emails bad Email Etiquette?

Considerations when forwarding "funny" joke emails.

Depends on how you do it and your intent. First you should ask yourself two questions:

  • Do you just forward because you think the email is funny?
  • Or do you stop and think twice about if those that you are forwarding to will also think it is funny?

The reality is, sometimes the other side may not agree with your sense of humor. And when that happens we could have misunderstandings or cause harm to relationships.

Humorous Emails: Eye of the Beholder

Who doesn’t have friends who occasionally (or habitually) forward emails with jokes that they find funny? If you are like me, I don’t really mind the jokes when they match my sense of humor or a topic I find humorous.

The thing is if you know me, you know what I’ll find funny. What is one to think when you receive a supposedly funny email — and you don’t think it humorous?

“Why did they think I would find this funny?” Guess they don’t know me as well as I thought they did. Or, they aren’t thinking about me at all — it’s all about just forwarding.

I’ll be honest, it does bug me when the only communications I get from some folks are jokes that they forward. No message from the sender.

Just a forward. That tells me they aren’t really thinking about me with that forward — I’m just on a list.

Add insult to injury, there is my email address visible in the Cc: field with a bunch of folks I don’t know. You then have the incorrect forwarding trifecta.

  1. Forwarding without comment.
  2. Forwarded emails are the only ones I receive.
  3. Exposing my email address to those I don’t know.

What then becomes a real pain is when the funny part has been re-forwarded by several different people before being forwarded to me. I then have to wade through all the gobbledygook to get to the funny.

Not worth it. Delete.

Is there a right way to forward email jokes?

Yepper! Just forwarding any email without comment or down-editing your email (removing all the other stuff besides the joke) is plain ‘ole lazy. So add a comment why you are forwarding and remove all the gobbledygook.


This goes for emails that are not humorous in nature as well. Down-editing your email replies and forwards is about courtesy and clarity.

If you want to share an email with friends, removing unnecessary portions of the email reflects consideration. This includes making sure that everyone’s email address is in the BCc: field so it is not visible to folks they may not know.

Don’t brush off privacy in your zeal to forward that funny email that had you ROFL.

Respecting Privacy is Important Too

A big misconception is that if someone sent you an email with others email addresses visible, this means it is alright to you just click forward and continue to expose those addresses. It wasn’t your decision to expose those addresses in the first place, so it’s not your responsibility to remove them.

Wrong. You make that decision to continue the irresponsible exposure of everyone’s addresses without editing them out. Not cool.

Chances are the other visible addresses, if asked, would not want their email address broadcasted further. Don’t you feel the same way?

Do them a favor, even if their “friends” neglected to. Remove any visible email addresses before you forward the joke on to those that you do know.

This is one of those things, that while no one may notice, is the right thing to do. Plus you are then leading by example.

Sharing Humor Responsibly

So feel free to send those funny emails that you know your contacts would chuckle over. Just be sure, considering the minuscule effort involved, to do it the right way.

Good email habits reflect courtesy for those you are emailing and make communicating with you a pleasure. Don’t put that in jeopardy by forwarding things others may not find all that funny.

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