Email signatures might be more annoying than you think, but we all experience plenty more gaffes, annoyances and misfires in our inbox. We asked our savvy readers to share their biggest email annoyances, and here's what they said.
Note: It's impossible to make hard-and-fast rules about email etiquette, and in some instances, you may completely disagree with the sentiment expressed. At the very least, though, it's worthwhile to know that some people may be annoyed by that behaviour.
"Sent From My"
Does keeping an automatic "Sent from my iPhone/iPad/BlackBerry/mobile" signature on your device-typed emails provide helpful information about the context of your message, or does it just imply you're too busy to properly address someone's thoughts?
Many respondents had a fairly instinctual dislike of "Sent from my." Paul Duke summed up much of the sentiment:
"Sent from my iPhone" may as well say "I don't know how to change my settings, or am too pretentious to try"
And Peter Alexander rounded out the chorus:
"Sent from my iPhone / bb" always makes me think I'm only worth a quick note on a phone. It doesn't look professional.
Kim Schoenfeld Cluff Price provided a different kind of "Sent from my" side-effect—office status sniping:
... A few years back I sent an email to a former co-worker, but then jealous business associate, (with a) "From my Verizon Wireless Blackberry" (signature), and her response was a very snooty one closed with a "Sent from my *company name* Office Computer." I had no idea that smartphones were still a status symbol at that point (heck, there was no reason she could not have purchased one herself, or even gotten one for FREE from her mobile provider) and I politely explained that this was something added by Verizon, not me, and that it was for her benefit. This was by no means the only Bi%$#y thing she said to me, but I shared them all around the office and provided great amusement to my co-workers.
But that's only a consideration of the default "Sent from my [MobileDeviceGoesHere] " message. Many readers had suggestions for clever, or just more appropriate, substitutions:
"Sent from my iPhone" sounds lame, but " iTyped with my iThumbs " sounds good.
Tim Clevenger suggested, via Facebook, a refreshingly direct and honest "Sent from" replacement:
I like the "Sent from my..." because then I know that the sender isn't being rude or terse, but is limited by his/her keyboard. I changed mine to say, "Sent from my mobile. Please excuse the brevity, spelling and punctuation."
Disclaimers and Reminders
Few people like emails that tell them what to do. Fewer still enjoy prompts and huge blocks of text that try to impose unnecessary instructions on them with every single message.
Dan MacWilliam was succinct and sincere in his dislike of legal disclaimers:
Three paragraph legal disclaimer that's longer than the message. Also: attached logos or graphics.
You know of which Dan speaks — the message-warping text that tells you a message was only intended for a certain person, and that it's not certified legal advice or financial information, and that if you should happen to receive the message unintentionally, you are to delete every copy of it on any server you know of ... and so forth.
Amy Robertson was among many who find "Please consider the environment" tag lines to be, at best, useless, but more likely applying a condescending tone of voice to every email sent:
The worst: "Please consider the environment before printing this email." I'll print if I need to, whether or not you nag me!
As an email respondent (asking to remain unnamed) put it, "The folks who are attaching those environmental "Don't print this email" lines are the ones most likely to print out huge emails themselves. No need to spread the panic."
"Thanks" and "Cheers"
Most of us learn at a young age that "Thank you" is exceedingly elastic. The phrase can either carry sincere gratitude, or become the grating tip of a phony iceberg. Ending one's missives with unnecessary, inauthentic goodwill can rile up a lot of people.
Auto responses like "Thank you for your email! I am extremely busy and will get back to you soon." Aren't we all busy.. at work?
Ryan Noah offered this on Facebook:
Thanks in advance—as opposed to thanks from the past? It's stupid and irritating. Doesn't "thanks" suffice? I also hate when "Thanks" is part of the email signature and has nothing to do with the email. Ed. note: He added, "Sent from Eudora on my Commodore Colt.
Cheers, too, got its share of dislike — especially when used outside British pubs, or the UK in general:
John London shared on Facebook:
The CFO of the company I use to work for had the signature "Cheers" once he sent out an email to all managers that said there would be no raises that year "Cheers" .... lots of pissed off people that day lol
Cheers," as the sender is almost never (a) British or (b) sharing a drink with me
(That said, Lifehacker Australia readers long ago concluded that Cheers" is fine.)
We've also heard that a lot of people consider "Best" a brush-off.
Needless, Nagging Euphemisms
Outside the context of signatures, disclaimers and auto-text, our readers suggested a few other changes they'd make in the email world they would run themselves:
Anna Lozo suggested two of her least favourite phrases:
"We need to". translation: xyz needs to be done but i'm such a gutless wonder manager that i couldn't direct a piss-up in a brewery so i'm not actually going to come out and directly tell any of you to do it, i'm just going to say it needs doing and treat all of you with disapproving silence when we meet again for our four hour review next week and it hasn't been done. my response (which NEVER fails to totally freak them out): "so who would you like to do it and when do you want it done by?"
Jason N. Bishop, in addition to his dislike of environmental reminders, shared on Facebook his particular corporate cliches:
"touch base with"; "circle back"; "to be honest";
Angelo Stavro provided one really simple change we're definitely on board with:
Using the CC field when you should use the BCC field to send out a mass e-mail. Keep my address private, dammit!
Brandon Rome sounds like a man who's been on the receiving end of a few tech support requests:
"I owe you a beer!" because they never pay up :[
If you didn't get a chance to share your least favourite email-isms and habits on our Twitter or Facebook posts, feel free to let it all out in the comments!