[internetworkers] Hoaxes, Relatives, and Email Etiquette

burnett at pobox.com burnett at pobox.com
Wed Sep 29 23:40:17 EDT 2004

On Wed, 29 Sep 2004, 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. :-(

They're your relatives, why ask us how to handle them? :) 

For a while, I tried your #1. If I received a reply, it was most often 
along the lines of "Well, I don't have time to research these things, and 
it might be true, and email's free, and, and, ...."

Then I tried your #2 -using bcc, starting with some variant of "In reply 
to....". For that, I would most often receive a reply from the poster as 
above, followed by "you just embarrassed me to all my friends you rude 
person". I would also typically get at least one angry reply from the 
recipient list complaining "who are you and why are you sending me this 
waste of time". 

So, I gave up dispensing unsolicited advice for Lent one year and now I 
just use the Delete key much more often.

"The Internet: Learn what you know. Share what you don't."
--old Usenet sigfile

Steve Burnett
burnett at pobox.com

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