Wednesday, 30 September 2009

E mail AWOL

Ever sent an email to the wrong person?

A survey (there’s always a survey) of 4000 people revealed that a third had sent something of a personal nature to the wrong recipient. I read of a man who replied to an invite to a school reunion but his e-mail didn't only contain friendly chat or reminiscences, but a lewd photo of a partly unclothed young man.

Apparently, it was a new computer and this guy had been figuring out how to add attachments to an e-mail. As an experiment, he clicked on a random image from his desktop and tried to send it to himself (who hasn't tried that?) but the e-mail program he was using being the clever thing it was, automatically filled in an entire group from his contacts book. He didn't realize, of course, until after he hit the ‘send’ button. He apologised for his mistake in a follow-up email. How he explained away having lewd images of young men on his desktop I have no idea.

I've made similar mistakes - none involving semi-clothed young men, sadly. Like the time I joined ‘The Rather Nice Association’ and was invited onto their members forum to introduce myself and my work etc. Being used to the informality of my usual on-line writing group I jumped in with a ‘Hey, how’s it hanging, dudes’ type post. Actually, no I didn’t. I’d never say that and I’m not American for a start, but you get my drift.

Anyway, only one person came back with a ‘Welcome’ (thank you, you know who you are) but, unperturbed, I lurked a bit longer and tried again...and again. Just chatty posts about recent sales to a magazine and what I'd been up to that weekend. I got a cyber slap back for ‘using the forum for self promotion’. I think my grammar came under scrutiny, too.

Feeling a bit deflated I emailed my own lovely writing group and told them what a stuffy old lot The Rather Nice Association were, that I felt completely out of my depth and wouldn’t be going back there again. Harrumph!

Do I need to spell it out? That’s right. I sent it to The Rather Nice people by mistake. Oh the shame! The toe-curling embarrassment!
Thankfully, it seemed to break the ice. Caused a bit of a giggle and I was forgiven. And if any Rather Nice Association members are reading this – I came to realise I was being overly-sensitive and you are all very, very nice.

So, are there any sure-fire ways to avoid this dilemma? Well, there are programmes out there you can use and I believe there’s something in Outlook that gives a few seconds delay between you clicking the ‘send’ button and actually whizzing it off, but my experience is that you won’t realise your email has gone AWOL until you’re sitting there wondering why your friend didn’t reply to your important opinion on your b*****d excuse of a boss.

So, my tips are:
1. I know it’s a bore but if you get into the habit of always typing the full name it’ll lesson the chances of mistakes. Don’t just type just the first few letters and let your e-mail program fill out the rest because based on your contacts book, it could easily misroute your message without your realizing it.

2. When you grammar and spell check your email (you do do that, right?) also double-check the address of your intended recipient before you hit 'send'.

You’re only going to lose a few seconds out of your day and believe me it's worth it!


Martin H. said...

Hi Sue

Yes, I'm sure we've all done this at some or other.

I once had an email from a senior pupil at a very posh school in Dorset. He had punctuated his message with expletives, thinking that I was the 'fit bird' he'd met at a party.

I let him down as lightly as I could, explaining that there were question-marks over my level of fitness, and beside, I was a middle-aged man with a beard.

Not a word of apology.....I wonder why?

Sue Houghton said...

Gave me a real chuckle, Martin!

Lynne Hackles said...

Hi Sue,
I don't think I've ever been guilty but, saying that, I don't get as many emails from friends as I used to. Unless they say something how will I know?

Sue Houghton said...

Hi Lynne,
How you doing?
Love the mummy on your blog, by the way! x

Olivia Ryan said...

I've been the victim of more embarrasing text message mistakes than e-mails, for some reason.Years ago when I was only just finding out how to send texts, I wrote one to a friend, describing how gorgeous a guy I'd met on holiday was (yes, I am happily married and my husband met him too, but well, you know!) - and you've guessed it, sent it to the guy concerned by mistake. Oh, the shame!! But I did later sell a short story based on that, which made up for it. xx

Tomer said...

> Do I need to spell it out? That’s
> right. I sent it to The Rather
> Nice

A good program that look at is Spell Check Anywhere (SpellCheckAnywhere.Com). It adds spell checking to all programs.