[internetworkers] Hoaxes, Relatives, and Email Etiquette

James Dasher jdasher at ibiblio.org
Wed Sep 29 12:11:06 EDT 2004

On Sep 29, 2004, at 11:11 AM, Michael Czeiszperger wrote:

> What's the polite thing to do with email from internet unsavy 
> relatives who are regularly forwarding hoaxes, both urban and 
> political.  The typical email will have been forwarded many times, and 
> I'm usually included on a very long list of friends and relatives.  
> Should I:
> 1. Reply only to the author with links to the appropriate section of 
> snopes.com?
> 2. Reply to everyone on the list?
> I've been trying #1 and its not working, since the offending emailers 
> never see fit to let everyone know that the story is a hoax. :-(

This issue has cropped up for me from time to time.  Most recently, my 
step-mother discovered email about a year ago.  I try both the options, 
but if that doesn't work,  I generally go for the scorched-earth 

I reply-to-all, and write the reply directly to the sender.  I say 
something along the lines of this:

"Please do not include me in your list of people to whom you forward 

I started using email before the Summer That Never Ended, and I doubt 
very much that you'll forward an email message to me that I haven't 
seen before - hoaxes, indignant diatribes, chain letters, virus 
warnings, and inspirational messages alike.

If you can't take the time to edit messages to remove headers and 
signatures (those things before and after the message you mistakenly 
thought I would like to read), I won't bother to read your messages.

If you would like to send a personal message, please do.  If you have 
something to say that directly impacts me, or our family [I've used 
"circle of friends", where appropriate], I look forward to hearing from 

But I don't ask you to read your junk mail when I come over to your 
house, and I'd appreciate it if you would assume that I don't want to 
read it via email, either."

It sounds harsh.  Heck, it *is* harsh.  But it's better to nip a 
problem in the bud than to turn friends and relatives into -- well, 
into trolls.


James Dasher
misterdasher dot com
IM misterdasher

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