Netiquette: Forwards

This is another installment in our Netiquette series, where we talk about good manners while using the Internet. Today’s topic is e-mail forwards. Now and again, all of see an interesting message we might want to share with friends, so we forward it along.


But other folks practice mass-forwarding. They forward every joke, prayer chain, political e-mail, funny image, urban legend or anything else they can get their hands to everyone they know, including people who are business contacts.  And that many messages can clog up already full inboxes. It also makes people less likely to notice an actual important e-mail from you. Always avoid sending items like forwards to your friends’ work e-mail addresses.


Think back to the days of phone calls and letters. You might call someone up or write them a letter if you saw something interesting, but would you make seven separate phone calls in a day or write seven letters?

One way to be sure you aren’t bombarding your friends is to ask if they want to receive fun forwards or not. But don’t be offended if they say they don’t have the time. Or consider combining the information into one e-mail featuring the best things you’ve seen recently. That takes a little copying and pasting, but a lot of folks actually do that. It’s a convenient way for friends to enjoy things you want to share.

Another considerate thing to do is not to use a “send all” function or go down and select everyone of your list of contacts.

Think carefully about whether or not the person will really be interested. This is also where you can make specific lists of folks to receive jokes or political e-mails after you check with them to see if they are interested.

Social media, such as Facebook,  is a great outlet for sharing news stories and jokes. There’s less likelihood of some type of important communication getting buried in a pile or forwards there and it was specifically designed for sharing that type of information.

~ Cynthia

6 thoughts on “Netiquette: Forwards

  1. EXCELLENT advice! I and most family members and other contacts have been practicing what you preach since we began sending e-mails. However, as our in-boxes continue to be flooded with “shotgun” forwards, many others would do us all a great service to read your column. Brava! Encore!

  2. I am amazed that you wrote this piece without mentioning to “please delete all listed email addresses before you forward a message”.

  3. Thank you. BUT some of my contacts send me political stuff which I have actually face-to-face asked them not to send, but they continue to do so. I have even said that their emails anger me. Response: Laughing, “that’s why I do it.” Yes, I can just delete, which I do, but I have a home business and I am so afraid of deleting the wrong line, etc.

    Also, as w2e3r4 states, I do clean messages up before I forward them….which I rarely forward unless I am positive that it would be of interest to the recipient.

  4. I will add my pleas for people to at least use BCC if they are sending to more than one person……….and to please delete all emails before just blindly hitting forwarding. I have someone who forwards stuff all the time and sometimes because it has been forwarded from so many other people before it gets to me, there are 3 pages of emails before I get to whatever she has sent. Usually I just delete but it is still annoying. There are probably 8-10 people I am fairly close to who do this all the time. A couple I have tried to suggest cutting and pasting or simply deleting all the emails and I get, “I don’t know how to do that, so I just forward.” UGH
    My proudest moment however is that I was able to teach my husband–he;s 70– how to send something to a lot of people using the BCC on his email program.(Before he retired, he had ‘people’ who did it all for him, sigh..) So you can teach an old dog new tricks, you just have to beat them over the head with it until they learn!! 🙂

  5. I’ll second or third or forth that please remove all the previous senders info before you hit send. It’s easy, just go to the end of the list (or beginning if you prefer to call it that) and hit the back button, which removes everything previous to what you want to FWD to YOUR friend. Then hit send to only fwd the one (not the entire chain) email. Trish

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