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E-mail's delicate etiquette

April 5, 2002 

E-mail etiquette is a delicate matter. That explains the many Web sites covering the subject. But the plethora of "how to" guides does not help when the quandary is psychological and rooted in the insecurity of having spent too many years corresponding on paper.

Is it rude to use the "reply" function? The thing always feels a little cheap, as though one is returning the sender's stationery with a note scrawled on the back. And then when one gets a reply to the reply, it has a kind of "take that" sting to it. When receiving a joke that goes to 30 people, should one be flattered to be included or insulted to be a mere entry in a string of names? Is it gauche to ask, "Did you get my message?" There are no answers. And so we race on into the millennium - paperless, breathless, and often clueless.

- The Boston Globe

Copyright © 2001 The International Herald Tribune

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