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.

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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.

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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