Dec 16, 2006

Email at the workplace could be a plague

Unsolicited e-mails continue to plague Europeans and account for between 50 and 80% of all messages sent to mail inboxes, the European Commission said Monday.

EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding called on EU governments to step up their fight against spam, spyware and other illegal online activities and implement EU rules to improve Internet safety.

An EU report found that only two EU nations — the Netherlands and Finland — were making inroads in enforcing the 2002 law to crack down on spam.

"Spam is still ... making up to between 50 and 80% of the mails that we are receiving in Europe and two-thirds of that is coming from outside the European Union," said EU spokesman Martin Selmayr.


Nov 20, 2006

How many Americans received phishing e-mails?

According to Gartner, approximately 109 mln US adults have received phishing e-mail attacks, up from 57 mln US adults in 2004. The average loss per victim has grown from $257 to $1,244 per victim in 2006.

The average amount of money consumers recovered from phishing attacks in 2005 was 80%, but in 2006, recovery amounts dropped to 54%. High-income adults earning more than $100,000 per year are more heavily attacked. This group reported receiving an average of 112 phishing e-mails in the past year versus 74 e-mails per consumers across all income brackets.

Do you know how "phishing" works?

Oct 30, 2006

77% of junk e-mail gets filtered out based on From: field

When commercial email does not get delivered to the inbox, the sender’s reputation can be blamed 77% of the time, and the reputation of domains included in the email 6% of the time, Return Path says.

Did you know that your proffesional reputation is in risk when you send "chains e-mails"?

What is our positioning or opinion of a person that sends many messages per day, or of a person that never responds? What do we end up thinking of colleagues whose messages are difficult to understand, or who send very long messages?

Sep 11, 2006

Studies show that manners do matter in e-mail

Here are ten e-mail etiquette tips to think about before you hit that send button:

1. Don't write anything in an e-mail that you would not want read by everybody.

2. Be tidy with your e-mail: answer it promptly, and use folders to save messages that you may need later.

3. Management might write e-mail policies that employees sign-off on.

4. Messages or replies to messages that have an angry tone are a no-no in office culture.

5. Don't give out your password or UserID to anyone.

6. Smiley faces and emoticons are inappropriate and childish.

7. Don't write e-mail in capital letters. THIS MEANS THAT YOU ARE SHOUTING. This practice is offensive at work.

8. Save attachments for the people who really need them. Sending out large files in an e-mail can be a burden on systems.

9. Sending information on e-mail to clients and people at other companies is a reflection of the company for whom you work.

10. Use the spell-checker and read your e-mail over before sending it out. Punctuation, tone and good grammar are important.

Aug 16, 2006

$630 mln lost in 2 years to e-mail scams

American consumers lost more than $8 bln over the last two years to viruses, spyware and various schemes.

Consumers face a 1-in-3 chance of becoming a cybervictim, about the same as in 2005.

Consumers lost $630 mln over the past two years to e-mail scams, Consumer Reports says.

As you can see, proffesional email managment is an important financial issue.

Jul 30, 2006

Are employees lowering down when using e-mail at the office?

A study in 2004 conducted for the Department of Trade and Industry turned up a few surprises: one in 10 employees in Scotland confused co-workers or clients by sending an e-mail to the wrong person; almost two in 10 confused people with humour.

The poll of 1,000 full- and part-time employees across the UK showed that 59 per cent of workers in Scotland would still rather talk to co-workers in person than via e-mail. Part of the problem could be that behind the screen people are bolder, think they are funnier but are often more lazy when it comes to working in cyberspace.

Studies show that manners do matter in e-mail.

Jun 16, 2006

We must beware sending e-mail copies

The practice of sending copies of letters is not new, and electronic copy practices have clearly taken up certain elements from the use in traditional correspondence.

With the development of email as a central tool for workplace communication, the practice of sending copies has proliferated. The ease of adding recipients to the copy field has made the electronic version more pervasive and has led to new interactional practices.

Employees use copies to achieve routine collaboration in their daily work tasks, sharing knowledge, prompting feedback, and seeking support. This contributes to creating new patterns of interaction and to erasing traditional hierarchical structures and established lines of information flow.

Thus, the practice of copying others in can also serve to reinforce hierarchical structures within the organization. It makes it easier for participants to appeal to superordinates to back their claims in cases of conflict and thereby to stress the importance of institutional status rather than the force of the argument.

Copying in recipients gives employees the opportunity to build their professional identity by presenting their ideas and achievements to other members of the organization, and especially to superordinates.

But the indiscrimanadas copies can generate extra and unproductive work to the recipients. This happens frequently when the option "replay all" is used unnecessarily.

Digital literacy involves competence in participating in electronically-mediated social activities among multiple participants. It involves competence in using various addressing devices to differentiate among recipients with varying participation statuses.

Digital media literacy also involves receptive skills, such as interpreting the relevance of a message according to one's status as primary or secondary recipient. It includes the competence to fill in with relevant context, to sort messages with various degrees of relevance, and reply to them accordingly. Digital literacy involves a strategic competence, that is, a competence in using copies in order to achieve different goals.

If you want to read more about this subject see this study from Norwegian School of Management.

May 19, 2006

The tone of e-mail messages

"Don't work too hard," wrote a colleague in an e-mail today. Was she sincere or sarcastic?"

According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we have only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message.

The study also shows that people think they have correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.

The researchers took 30 pairs of undergraduate students and gave each one a list of 20 statements about topics like campus food or the weather. Assuming either a serious or sarcastic tone, one member of each pair e-mailed the statements to his or her partner. The partners then guessed the intended tone and indicated how confident they were in their answers.

Those who sent the messages predicted that nearly 80 percent of the time their partners would correctly interpret the tone. In fact the recipients got it right just over 50 percent of the time.

"People often think the tone or emotion in their messages is obvious because they 'hear' the tone they intend in their head as they write," Epley explains.

At the same time, those reading messages unconsciously interpret them based on their current mood, stereotypes and expectations. Despite this, the research subjects thought they accurately interpreted the messages nine out of 10 times.

"That's how flame wars get started," says psychologist Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago, who conducted the research with Justin Kruger of New York University.

"People in our study were convinced they've accurately understood the tone of an e-mail message when in fact their odds are no better than chance," says Epley".

Further,"The reason for this is egocentrism, or the difficulty some people have detaching themselves from their own perspective, says Epley.

In other words, people aren't that good at imagining how a message might be understood from another person's perspective. So, e-mail is very easy to misinterpret, which not only triggers flame wars but lots of litigation.

Note: Tone in a e-mail is the quality in your writing that reveals your attitude toward your topic and reader. Tone comes from your choice of words, the structure of your sentences, and the order of the information you present.

Apr 17, 2006

Historical reference about e-mail

E-mail was created in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson. At that time there was a message system in every computer (which was shared by several users), but there wasn’t a mail program per se that allowed a user to send messages to another.

In those days we placed in a predetermined directory a file containing the message we wanted others to read. When the recipient wanted to know if he/she had mail, he/she had to check that directory. It was like a bulletin board, but inside the computer.

Tomlinson created a program that allowed sending these messages from one computer to another. Since it was necessary to separate the name of the user from the machine sending the mail, he selected “at” (@) as the division between the user’s name and the computer where the mail box was located.

The symbol “@” means literally “in that place”, so we could say “I am in Caracas” as “I am @ Caracas”. My e-mail address, means the mailbox of “jucar” is located at the “” web domain.

The name e-mail (a contraction of “electronic mail”) comes from its analogy with regular mail: Both serve to send and receive messages, using “intermediate mailboxes” (located in the servers) where messages are stored until the recipients retrieve them.


Mar 19, 2006

E-mails and egos

An inability to step outside of one's own head may be behind e-mail miscommunication, according to recent research.

Kruger, a professor at New York University, was once a member of a psychology departmental e-mail list at a different university. A job candidate came into town to interview for a faculty position. The faculty member responsible for organizing a meet-and-greet dinner sent around an e-mail invitation that read "talking to the candidate is not required; just don't embarrass us."

"She meant it as a joke, but much to her surprise some people were really upset," says Kruger. "It was a comical miscommunication."

Now, Kruger and his colleague Nicholas Epley, of the University of Chicago, have published research that helps explain why these electronic misunderstandings occur so frequently.

In a study in the December Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, they find that people overestimate both their ability to convey their intended tone–be it sarcastic, serious or funny–when they send an e-mail, as well as their ability to correctly interpret the tone of messages others send to them.

The reason for this communication disconnect, the researchers find, is egocentrism–the well-established social psychological phenomenon whereby people have a difficult time detaching themselves from their own perspectives and understanding how other people will interpret them.

And as e-mail has become more prevalent, Epley says, the opportunities for misunderstanding have increased.

"Of course there's nothing new about text-based communication; people have been writing letters for centuries," he explains. "But what's different in this medium is…the ease with which we can fire things back and forth. It makes text-based communication seem more informal and more like face-to-face communication than it really is."


Feb 24, 2006

Some of the most frequently used emoticons in e-mails

In 1979, the need and possibility to add some emotion to written messages was considered, and “emoticons” were created, a neologism whose root is formed by the words “emotion” and “icon”.

These are a sequence of characters that when you see them with your head tilted to the left, you see a symbolic representation of a human face showing an emotion. For instance, the emoticon :-) is used to symbolize a smiling face.

Some of the most frequently used emoticons in e-mails:
:-) = Happy face with nose
:) = Happy face without nose
;-) = Winking face with nose
;) = Winking face without nose
:-D = Laughter
8-) = Surprised happy face
:-( = Sad face with nose
:( = Sad face without nose
:’( = Sad face crying
8-O = Surprised face with nose
=O = Very surprised of startled
:-\ = Unpleasant face
:-| = Serious face
:-X = “My lips are sealed”, or “silent”
:-b = Sticking the tong mockingly
8-P = My mouth is watering, with eyes open wide
<3 = A heart or “I love you”
0:-) = “I am a saint”, “I am innocent”
:-* = Kiss

Jan 14, 2006

Bad e-mail can creates human resources nightmares

Wasted Talent: Xerox fired more than 40 employees in 1999 for idling away up to eight hours a day on X-rated sites. The downloading of porn videos was so pervasive, it actually choked Xerox's computer network and prevented employees from sending and receiving legitimate eMail.

Wasted Talent: Dow Chemical fired 64 workers and disciplined 230 more in 2000 for violating the company's policies against pornographic eMail.

Wasted Talent: The New York Times Company fired nearly two dozen employees and reprimanded another 20 workers for sending and/or receiving eMails that included sexual images and offensive jokes.

Lost Productivity: Firefighters in Columbus, Ohio triggered an internal investigation, media sensation, and public uproar when a routine scan of on-the-job Internet surfing revealed that fire division headquarters' staff were visiting as many as 8,000 pornographic sites a day.