Ironic email signatures

18Feb10

Email signatures have become a dumping ground for all sorts of unnecessary and ironic text. For example:

– “This email may contain confidential information.” Email is not a secure communications channel, so why are you sending confidential info in the first place?

– “Please consider the environment before printing this message.” Since every byte of data sent online consumes a small but measurable amount of power, the extra cycles required to deliver this pro-environment request are actually using up energy and draining natural resources in the process.

– “Call my 24/7 direct line.” I rarely have a need to call people after hours, but I can think of many times where I’ve dialed a number that was labeled this way, and it went to voice mail. If you’re going to talk up 24/7 access, you should probably make sure that someone’s answering the phone for you.

Bloated email signatures are a widespread phenomenon, especially in big companies where the IT department is presumably told to insert things like the confidentiality text in every employee’s email configuration. But if you’re lucky enough to control your own email settings, try to think of your email signature like an ad or a business card. Customers, vendors and colleagues see it dozens or hundreds of times during the course of a relationship, so it’s best not to inundate them with useless or ironic content that does nothing for the conversation.



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