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October 16, 2008

Gmail promotes bad etiquette

I must protest! Gmail’s latest tip reveals what I consider one of emails greatest, and most often abused etiquette faux pas (not to be confused with fopas or fopaws) – The Empty Email Body. While this may seem perfect for Halloween, I assure you, this is far more scary.

I often send messages where the subject is the entire message (e.g. “Want to grab lunch at 12:30?”), and Gmail would always prompt me to add in body text.

Now, however, you can add “EOM” or “(EOM)” at the end of the subject line (short for End Of Message), and Gmail will silently send the message without the unnecessary prompt. – Official Gmail Blog: Sending empty messages

The problem is, I and trillions of people like me, don’t read the subject line of every email – especially at work. We can easily preview the message and read the content. Even Gmail shows the first few words of every message. Besides, I know the subject of most emails simply by who it came from. For me, it’s more of a key word function than part of the message. In fact, I should be able to read the message body and guess the subject line. And note that this is called a subject line and not “title”. You’re not writing a book.

So the proper form of the example email would be subject: “Lunch today?” Message Body: “Want to grab lunch at 12:30?” [END]

If this is too much trouble, try picking up the phone you lazy bar-turd.

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49 comments

  • At 12:04 pm on October 17, 2008, Clock commented:

    I get too many emails a day to read. I use the subject/sender to filter out what is important, and what is not. I may “star” a subject to read later (often never, but) but generally speaking I filter. I have thousands of unread emails, many I will never read. I read fewer emails that I get.

    I wouldn’t say putting the subject in the subject is “rude”. If anything, the intention is to save people time. I’m not saying I do it myself, but I can understand the intent. People then don’t have to wait for a whole webpage to load in order to get the message.

    If anything, I think it is not “rude” but perhaps annoying when people have non-descript subject lines. For example, at work, I get tons of emails from authors wanting similar things over and over. So I have to search through their email to find their manuscript number or have to open attachments to identify it. This is a nuisance, because it is very difficult to get through all the emails that come through when I’m wading through tons of unnecessary, unlabelled, often “no subject” or “status?” emails from people wanting to know when their manuscript will be published. It makes the whole process slower for everyone. Subject lines are extremely important and should be as detailed as possible so you can simply scroll your eyes through a ton of emails and identify those that you need.

    If anything, if the message is short and sweet, and has to be sent by email, it should probably be written completely in the subject line and in the email.

    [Reply]

  • At 4:14 pm on October 17, 2008, Kristi commented:

    Okay! What’s happening? Where did all these people come from? Did you try something new with this post? I didn’t realize that this was such a hot-button issue. (Congrats, I’m jealous of your new found popularity!)

    I, too, am annoyed by “no body” emails. I have my work email set up in such a way that I look to see who the email is from and then view or delete. A lot of the time when a open an email with no body, I think I’m having a font issue.

    [Reply]

  • At 4:17 pm on October 17, 2008, Kristi commented:

    Forgot to add, deaf people decided that ALL CAPS is shouting. Personally, I think ALL CAPS (and no caps at all) is lazy. Learn to use the shift key already.

    [Reply]

  • At 4:35 pm on October 17, 2008, Courtney commented:

    EOM is great for those on a blackberry.

    [Reply]

  • At 12:48 am on October 18, 2008, DinkyInky commented:

    Wow what a lit firecracker you have here with this one.

    Google has an embedded chat feature. For those that use gmail(and also AIM) you can send simple messages that way.

    It’s a pet peeve of mine as well. Some days it is a waste to even look at my mail due to it all beng empty bodied.(I get around 10k email a day.).

    Geez guys an opinion is just that, an opinion.

    [Reply]

  • At 7:17 am on October 20, 2008, April commented:

    Seriously? I send a message to my husband about meeting me somewhere all the time. We want lunch and don’t have time to worry about a formal email. I’d get over it! There are more pressing issues than this!

    [Reply]

  • At 11:35 am on October 22, 2008, Andy commented:

    Haha, jeez people are anal. I think the whole point that you are missing, dear poster, is that pet peeves are generally illogical. To say someone is ‘lazy’ because they don’t want to waste time making up a bullshit amount of text when they only need one sentence to describe what they are thinking is obviously anal and presumptuous. I think you take too much pride in how you use email, and therefore look down on other peoples methods of working. That makes you an asshole. Because the fact remains, the message got through, who cares?

    That’s why we will win when you and the robots try to take over, us REAL humans aren’t bothered by syntax.

    You call us lazy, I call you frivolous and boring.

    [Reply]

  • At 11:28 am on October 25, 2008, Gmail is too cute - no seriously | archshrk pingbacked:

    […] the risk of unleashing another firestorm of hate comments I have to say I’m not liking the emoticon feature of Gmail. Following the evolutionary path […]

  • At 7:27 pm on February 12, 2010, Why I dropped Google Buzz | archshrk pingbacked:

    […] Google and I have a love/hate relationship. I love its spam stopping capabilities and threaded emails but then there was Tip Jar, Google China and Emoticons. Not to mention the hotly debated EOM. […]

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