Monday, October 29, 2012

Internet etiquette failure

I've been invited to join a local group that aims to campaign on an issue I care about. The email from the co-ordinator asked when it would be convenient to meet. He'd sent the same email to a bunch of other people, with all our email addresses in the 'To' box. I replied,
Rather than sending emails to everyone on your list, which means sharing email addresses (not good IT security, BTW), why not open a Facebook group and post messages there?
He replied,
Thanks Margaret,

I will put your point to the next meeting unless you are able to come to it in person.

I know and am part of many 'round robins' as I call them, which work very well with no issues arising. Some of the address list are several screens long! Also where the people involved have never been asked whether they wished to be part of it!

I shall be guided by the collective thoughts about this. If we do make a change it would be best sooner rather than later.

Hope to meet you someday, best wishes, Bob
Lists "several screens long"! No thank you. I tried again...
Hi Bob,

On "round robins", or mass emails; they may "work well" as long as everyone on the list is careful about Internet security, but for one thing, unless all the people on your list have formally agreed to share their details, it would be in breach of data protection guidelines to share them, and I don't like it when it happens. Mass emails where everyone's email address is seen by everyone else on the list, are one way for viruses to be spread. They can also be useful to hackers and spammers. If you wouldn't share the content of your address book with everyone else in your address book, why would you do it online? When sending mass emails, I address them to myself and use the Bcc box for all the recipients' addresses.

I don't think that this is up to the group making a decision to stop doing it; I think you just must! A Facebook group is just one alternative means of communication, but a simple one.
Bob responded,
I have followed this up with the national coordinator of local groups who is not happy with the Facebook option (and nor am I).

Despite my reservations (that it will inhibit communication, especially for those who opt for the 'bcc' list, impose complications for those who manage it and makes everyone dependant on that persons availability and responsiveness) I will introduce an email based group.
Next I got another email, with all the recipients' email addresses in the 'To' box except mine, which was hidden, so I suppose you could say he was making an effort, of sorts.
Hello Everyone,

I need to explain that I have had a request to provide the option for members of the group to hide their email. I have discussed this with the national co-ordinator of local groups and agreed to arrange for an email group. He is not in favour of a Facebook mechanism for this.

Organising this has so far eluded me and this email is sent as before except that Margaret is on the 'bcc' list.
As the stable door is well and truly open, I've given up and quit the group.

'Bob' is not his real name - I respect his privacy.

For the benefit of anyone who doesn't know, here's how to send emails to a group of people - The BCC field.


David Chiles said...

Interesting exchange of emails and ideas. I have made many a speech about Netiquette practice with proper email addressing as the topic. I agree with you. I thinks it is great that you imposed a little netiquette : )

Margaret Nelson said...

Thank you David.