The Ins & Outs of E-Mail

   E-Mail isn't as easily read on screen as a ten page letter is in your hand. Keep your messages short and to the point.
   Don't assume that just because messages go instantaneously, the person will have received your message instantly. A server could be "down" or your recipient may not pick up his e-mail for several days.
   Unlike "snail" mail, where the post office will make every attempt to deliver the mail, e-mail requires an "exact" address. Internet addresses will look something like this.

yourname@hotmail.com

Typographical errors will mean that it will be returned. E-mail addresses are case sensitive. Depending on the server, there may be instantaneous rejection or it could take a day or so. If you have been really unlucky and your typo matches someone's e-mail address, you may get an e-mail from this individual asking what it is all about or it may be ignored, and you will make the false assumption that it has been delivered.
   Don't contribute to junk e-mail or pyramid schemes. Avoid the temptation to send that joke to everyone that you have an e-mail address for. Send only solicited relevant files. A graphic intensive file of your pet goldfish will take fairly long to download and may annoy the recipent. Be very careful opening attachments as an attachment can contain a virus. Make sure you have a good up to date virus checker that scans emails as they are downloaded.
   Remember that your messages that you send aren't completely private. Server administrators, hackers or your "boss" may be monitoring your e-mail (as well as the sites you visit). It is best to only send credit card information to secure encrypted sites.
   Unlike a handwritten letter, it is easy to send a forged letter, or an anonymous letter. Beware of a prankster if the letter is not in character with the individual who sent it. If you are unable to reply to a letter that has been mailed to you, someone has probably written under an assumed e-mail name, in an attempt to remain anonymous. The trash can is your best option for dealing with this type of e-mail. If you have suspicions about the senders address, eg. firstname.lastname@mail.yahoo.com or hacker@hotmail.com just trash it. Do not under any circumstances open and run attachments accompanying these letters.
   Consider a second (free)e-mail address so that if you are giving out your address on a site that you are suspicious may generate a lot of e-mail, or if you are subscribing to a mail list, use this address. This will keep your ISP address for "personal" mail and will make it easier to sort through. Sites offering free email include:

http://www.hotmail.com
http://www.netaddress.com
http://mail.yahoo.com

Some of the more sophisticated mail readers will allow you to filter your e-mail eg from listservs to separate mail files.
   E-mails can sometimes lead to flame wars if your message has been misunderstood. Use emoticons, as you would in chat rooms to clarify the meaning of your words. If things get really out of hand, warn the individual about continued harassment, ignore the messages - let them have the last word, and if it still persists, contact the postmaster at your ISP. Do not delete the copies so that your postmaster can go into the server and verify your complaint.