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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.

Share on Twitter or posted to Misc-Stuff @ 9:08 am


  • At 9:31 am on October 16, 2008, the man commented:

    You seriously are writing a blog about how you don’t like EOM? Wtf???

  • At 9:43 am on October 16, 2008, Ry commented:

    My cliche response to you: “Different strokes for different folks.”

    I believe this is also the premise behind Gmail offering this simple feature – flexibility for the many different ways people choose to look at email.

  • At 9:46 am on October 16, 2008, Marco commented:

    Sorry, I disagree. I do read (sometimes only) the subject, and maybe trillions of people do the same :-)

  • At 9:46 am on October 16, 2008, archshrk commented:

    What can I say, it’s a pet peeve. And to be clear, I wrote a post about it, not a blog. But maybe you got confused by the similar posts listed at the end of each post. For the most part, I love using Gmail – I just don’t like this practice in general.

  • At 9:50 am on October 16, 2008, Aaron commented:

    I’m glad we have you here to show us all the way to proper email etiquette.

    I think that your version is redundant, especially between two people who communicate frequently throughout the day.

  • At 9:51 am on October 16, 2008, egaeb commented:

    I completely agree! ESPECIALLY at work it can be extremely annoying and quite rude.

  • At 9:55 am on October 16, 2008, PasFaux commented:

    I must concur! Omitting the mail body is like licking the stamp on a letter expecting the recipient to derive its message by analyzing the DNA in your saliva!

    Bad form, Gmail. Bad form indeed….

  • At 9:57 am on October 16, 2008, yo momma commented:

    this actually makes sense if the other person uses, for example, outlook express without previews… so they get “john doe – want to grab lunch” and you don’t have to open it.

  • At 10:03 am on October 16, 2008, Louis St-Amour commented:

    Why not just copy and paste the info from subject to body then? I’d still add (EOM) to the subject, though, so that people know they don’t *have* to click through to view the message. (Perhaps this should be the EOM feature – copy the subject to the blank body when sending)

  • At 10:05 am on October 16, 2008, bob commented:

    I think it’s unfair to say Gmail promotes bad etiquette. Just because it doesn’t meet your etiquette standards or the standards of “high society” emailers does not mean it promotes bad etiquette. Also, you should guess the message body content from reading the subject, not the other way around.

  • At 10:08 am on October 16, 2008, elguyo commented:

    ok, you don’t like this practice… but to say it is bad etiquette, I guess is too much. From my early days with the BBSs, this was a very nice and useful etiquette (at that time I was using Telix to read my email)… I also use Gmail (among other mail clients today) and I find this an useful tip and best netiquette… but, the only thing we have are opinions about it…

  • At 10:16 am on October 16, 2008, Arantor commented:

    I actually got into the habit at my old job whereby if I wanted people to actually read my email (if it was something important) and it was going to a ton of people (criteria change/procedure change or something) I just wouldn’t set a subject.

    I agree this isn’t actually the most intelligent idea in the world.

    Still, better than the Email Goggles idea in the lab.

  • At 10:23 am on October 16, 2008, jerle commented:

    well, you know, I wouldn’t say that Gmail is promoting it. They’re just adding a feature for those who already do it. If they were promoting it, they would say “don’t write message bodies anymore. Just use EOM.”

    I don’t think it’s bad etiquette, though. Not that i send emails in this fashion, but i do send email with attachments and no bodies. that’s probably a lot different to some, but still, same message comes up.

    I kinda see it like an ashtray in a car. Are auto makers promoting smoking? No, they’re just adding a feature for those who do it anyway.

  • At 10:32 am on October 16, 2008, MerlinYoda commented:

    I have to agree about the “empty message” issue. It’s a lesser pet peeve of mine simply because I tend to look at who the email is from, glance for a very brief moment at the subject line (not necessarily “read” it), and then go to read the body of the message. I don’t get these often, but when there’s nothing there it makes me initially think that the message body just isn’t displaying correctly for some reason … until I actually read the subject line and see that they decided to inappropriately use e-mail as if it were an instant messenger. E-mails were designed to follow the format of office memos and messages should be formatted as such.

    Also, being modeled after memos, an “instant” response shouldn’t be expected. This is another minor pet peeve of mine when the opposite is expected. Emails are more for sending out information or a request for information, not “chatting” or “texting”. Since you can’t know for certain if someone’s actually read an email (though that’s technically true of any message) you can’t expect instant feedback. Even with read receipts you can’t know if am email has actually been read as either some people won’t send receipts or, if they do, it just means the message was displayed, not necessarily read.

  • At 10:52 am on October 16, 2008, Patrick commented:

    I think the bigger issue is you not taking the time to read the subject of your e-mails. Even with the preview / reading pane, you should still be comprehending the subject while you scan your e-mail.

  • At 10:53 am on October 16, 2008, Chuckie commented:

    There are trillions of people like you? I challenge your math, sir!

  • At 10:56 am on October 16, 2008, EmilyPost commented:

    You don’t have to like it. Maybe now you’ll start reading subject lines? Or is that too much trouble for such a “lazy bar-turd”?

    Get over yourself (what a douche).

  • At 11:08 am on October 16, 2008, Visitor commented:

    Oh geez. Next you’ll try to tell us that it’s wrong to reply at the top of a message with the quoted text below it…

  • At 11:14 am on October 16, 2008, LovesEOMS commented:

    I don’t get it…if you use Gmail, the subject line and the start of the message are right next to each other. Why is it ever any easier to read the message and skip the subject line?

  • At 11:15 am on October 16, 2008, xam commented:

    i like EOM

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