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Email Details, Guidelines, and Rules

Online and email rules matter.

When I started promoting email etiquette, I saw that most onliners did not realize the power of the written word combined with their use of technology. The thing is that email (the written word) is more powerful than many realize.

Over the two decades of this site’s existence, there have been several technology changes. We have had social media, texting, and instant messaging being added to the mix. All once again using the written word.

Not the Wild Wild West

Back in the day and to this day, some believe that anything goes online. Many believe that one can do, or say, anything they want anyway they want, all while hiding safely behind these screens.

While I assumed that over time folks would realize that they should approach their use of technology with “knowledge, understanding, and courtesy,” I was partially wrong. Of course, some do — but boy, do I see a lot of those that don’t.

When it comes to Business Email Etiquette, you really have no choice. But that is if you are smart. Don’t be into the details; follow guidelines and rules of technology use, and your business’s chances of failing increase exponentially.

However, when it comes to personal email, using websites, and participating in groups — there is still a lot of the Wild Wild West.

Top 5 Things Many Onliners Disregard

Here’s what I see daily when it comes to online communications:

  1. Not spelling their name in proper case.
  2. Typing in full sentences with proper punctuation.
  3. Inability to take the time to read then follow instructions.
  4. If they do read instructions, they do what they want anyway.
  5. Believing that the tacit rules of courtesy do not apply online.

One prime example is my Email Etiquette Quiz. I thought it would be a fun way for visitors to test their knowledge. Little did I know that this simple quiz would be taken by so many that don’t bother to read my site to ensure they get a good score. Most fail.

Initially, I didn’t care how often folks took the quiz. But when I added the bonus of getting an actual certificate to print, frame, and display, I raised the stakes.

It takes my time to create a custom certificate, add a name and date, then upload it for download. I then have to email you the link to get the download.

Should I take my time to do this for just anyone? Or should I only take my time for those who follow the rules and legitimately got a perfect score in no more than two tries who also took The Pledge?

How it works is, if you get a 100%, you can request a customized printable certificate that you can display with pride. But you only get two tries. Not 5, not 10, not 18. Two.

My database is filled with multiple almost obsessive attempts by individuals to get 100%. So tell me, where on any quiz or test are you allowed to get as many tries as you want until you get it right?

I determined that, okay, you may miss one of my trick questions the first time around. But if you fail to get a perfect score — go read up and refresh your knowledge, and then bang it out the second time. How wrong I was…

Pay Attention to Guidelines and Rules

When you take a quiz, be prepared to answer the questions. Do a little poking around to make sure that you understand the subject matter. Does this happen? Nope. Not even after failing the first time.

The parameters of the process are clear. First, you need 100% in no more than two tries. Next, you take the Email Etiquette pledge — and bingo! Finally, request a certificate, and I’ll make one just for you to download.

Follow these three little rules, and you are in. Simple, right? The fact is compared to the number of quiz takers, very few certificates have been issued.

I admit I don’t make the quiz easy for those who don’t read this site. For example, if a visitor took the time to read my 101 Email Etiquette Tips, they would pass the first time around. But they don’t.

Do they read it after the second fail, the third, the tenth? Nope.

Effort in the Right Places

My database is filled with those who keep retaking, thinking that they’ll get that 100% by guessing differently. However, the time it would have taken to read my tips and get 100% in the first two tries would have been nothing compared to, in one case, 22 attempts.

Then, knowing the rules, to proceed to request a certificate as if you deserve or earned it — by not following the rules — is farcical. But they don’t hesitate.

My email etiquette quiz is just a window into this behavior that we see all too often in our everyday lives. But, unfortunately, folks are doing what they want, regardless of established guidelines — just because.

Technology & Life Success

Technology isn’t going anywhere, and who knows what new stuff will come around the next corner. Therefore, it behooves everyone using this great tool to do so correctly, “with knowledge, understanding, and courtesy.” Not only is that good for you, but it’s also good for those with whom you communicate.

Paying attention to details, following guidelines and rules will determine how you are perceived and your potential for success. Personally and professionally. Don’t doubt that for a moment.

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