Finding e-mail addresses
May 2, 2001
Just try to find an e-mail address for that former school classmate, friend, relative, health care provider, or business contact. You'll probably wish for a master directory of e-mail addresses for the United States, or the entire world.
A really comprehensive national or international e-mail directory would be possible from a technical standpoint. Computers could easily compile an index of the tens of millions of e-mail addresses in use around the world, and quickly search the list to find a specific address.
All e-mail addresses would simply be collected by a central agency, perhaps an international organization that makes addresses available on a Web site. Go to their home page, keyboard in name and other information about a person, and the site's search engine produces the address.
The agency might even imitate search sites like Yahoo!, AltaVista, and HotBot and send special programs roaming the Internet in search of new addresses to add to the database.
From a practical standpoint, a worldwide e-mail directory would be more difficult. Many people wouldn't want their e-mail address published, for instance, just as they prefer an unlisted telephone number.
Others probably would object to the personal information that undoubtedly would go into the e-mail index to help distinguish among individuals with the same names.
There are some good e-mail address directories on the Web. My favorites are WhoWhere? (http://www.whowhere.lycos.com), Yahoo! People Search (http://people.yahoo.com), the MetaE-mailSearchAgent, or MESA (http://mesa.rrzn.uni-hanover.de), Switchboard.com (http://www.switchboard.com), and WorldMail (http://www.worldmail.com).
E-mail director sites usually have a search page where you keyboard information about the individual, click on Search, and get a list of addresses that may or may not the person you want.
Most directory sites also have a feature that allows users to add their own address to the database so other people will have an easier time finding addresses.
Other tricks for finding e-mail addresses:
- Guessing often works with corporate, academic, government, or institutional e-mail addresses.
Suppose that John J. Doe and Jane A. Smith at State College have the addresses, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Then William K. Jones probably is email@example.com. Likewise, if all corporate addresses use the format firstname.lastname@example.org, Susan Carpenter can probably be reached at email@example.com.
A conventional Web search for an individual's name with Yahoo, Lycos or another search engine may turn up documents that include an e-mail address.
University Web sites usually have searchable student-faculty-staff directories that include e-mail addresses.
If you're not sure that you have the correct address, send a trial message. "Are you the Susan Carpenter who was human resources director at Star City's Maumee office?" Just don't give out a lot of personal information until you're sure.
Many Web pages list a contact address, often for the webmaster. Try sending an e-mail to request the individual's contact information.
Set-up, or configure, your own e-mail software so that it puts each new e-mail into an address book. Then you can later search the address book, and with a mouse click on the individual's name produce a pre-addressed e-mail screen.
With Microsoft Outlook, for instance, clink on Tools, Options, and the Send tab. Then check "Automatically put people I reply to in my Address Book."
To use the address book, right click on name, select "Action" from the popup menu, and Send E-mail.
If you use another e-mail software, check its help feature for instructions on adding names to the address book.
Another easy method involves keeping old messages in your software's "inbox" or "sent items" queue. Just click on the old message, select "Reply" and compose the e-mail without having to add an address.
Obviously, you also can telephone the person and ask for an e-mail address.
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© 2001 Record Searchlight - The E.W. Scripps Co.