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We appreciate the benefits of e-mail as a fast and inexpensive way to communicate. However in the interest of confidentiality in conducting business we often use other options. The following is some information on the topic we want to share with our readers. More-:

From Wikipedia
Netiquette (neologism, a morphological blend formed from "Internet etiquette") is a catch-all term for the conventions of politeness recognized on Usenet, in mailing lists, and on other electronic forums such as Internet message boards. These conventions address group phenomena (such as flaming) with changes in personal behavior, such as not posting in all uppercase, not (cross-)posting to inappropriate groups, refraining from commercial advertising outside the biz groups and not top posting. RFC 1855 is a fairly lengthy and comprehensive set of such conventions. Purpose

E-mail and mailing-list etiquette

Due to the nature of e-mail lists versus forums (usenet or web-based), rules of etiquette are usually somewhat different. These differences can include:

• Top posting is generally accepted to a much greater degree, especially for business use. Compared to Usenet, the smaller audience and more reliable delivery method means the flow of the conversation is often clear.

• A business e-mail account should not be used for personal correspondence. Since e-mails from a business account are considered official company communications, they may be monitored.

• If the original message was sent to multiple recipients, only reply to users for whom your message is pertinent.

• Ask first before sending large attachments, unless the recipient requests attachments (for example, human resources personnel typically want resumes attached when you're applying for a position).

• For mailing list administrators, including instructions for unsubscribing at the bottom of messages is considered good form.

Other Sources
The purpose of E-Mail Etiquette Guidelines is to help e-mail users understand the basics of e-mail communication:Conventions and style elements: what is proper to post or send.

A. Guidelines for Effective E-Mail Communication

1. Know your audience.

Communication and mail conventions may vary between groups. Remember that the recipient is a human being whose culture, language, and humor may have different points of reference from your own. Remember that date formats, measurements, and idioms may not travel well. Be especially careful with sarcasm, slang or acronyms. Also be mindful that different users have different levels of experience with technology applications like e-mail. Be patient and supportive with new users.

2. Identify yourself.

Identify your affiliation, title, background, and expertise in your e-mail message, especially if you are acting on behalf of an organization or professional association, or if you have relevant background or expertise in a matter. You can create this file ahead of time and add it to the end of your messages. (Some mail clients do this automatically.) In Internet parlance, this is known as a ".sig" or "signature" file. Your .sig file takes the place of your business card. If you include a signature keep it short. The rule of thumb is 4 lines or less.

3. Keep messages brief and to the point.

Make your messages "concise" not cryptic. Shorter paragraphs have more impact and are more likely to be read by busy people. Most people can only grasp a limited number of ideas within a single paragraph, especially on a computer screen.

When replying to a message, include enough original material to be understood but no more. It is bad form to reply to a message by including the entire previous message unless it is relevant to an understanding of your response

4. Attachments: Know how large a message you are sending.

Attaching large document files, images or programs may make your message so large that it cannot be delivered or will consume excessive resources. A good rule of thumb would be not to send a file larger than 50 Kilobytes. Consider including Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) or pointers to FTP-able (File Transfer Protocol) versions, or cutting the file into smaller chunks and sending each as a separate message. Use file compression techniques if you are sure the recipient has the corresponding decompression software. Never send large amounts of unsolicited information to people.

5. Use subject entries; Try to keep messages to a single subject.

Mail should have a subject heading which reflects the content of the message. The subject line of an e-mail message serves a number of important purposes: (l) it enables busy people to discern the subject of a message and when it must be read; (2) it is used to index the message in mailboxes and file folders; (3) it may be used to identify what messages are "records" and need to be transferred to a central recordkeeping system in the agency.

6. Format messages for easy reading.

White space enhances the look and clarity of an email message, and a blank line only adds a byte to the message so don't be stingy. Lengthy messages are almost always read in hard copy form and should be prepared accordingly (e.g., with cover sheets, headers, page numbers, and formatting). Be aware that complex formatting may be lost during translation through mail gateways and into mail systems that are not configured to support it.

7. Separate opinion from non-opinion.

So that readers do not confuse personal opinion with agency policy or position, use labels and explanatory notes to distinguish opinion from fact. If necessary, include a brief disclaimer.

8. Label messages that are meant to be humorous and be careful with sarcasm.

Use established conventions or explanatory notes to alert the recipient that a message is meant to be taken humorously. Facial expressions, voice inflection and other cues that help recipients to interpret a message are absent from e-mail. You can't always control when and in what context a message will be read. It might be read at the wrong time or by the wrong party. The reader might not understand your intention. What is humorous to you may be offensive to others.

9. Avoid sending e-mail in anger or as an emotional response.

It is best not to send these kinds of messages over e-mail. Such situations are better worked out in person or in another forum. If you are caught in an argument or disagreement, keep the discussion focused on issues rather than the personalities involved.

10. Don't be hasty.

If a message or posting generates negative feelings, set it aside and reread it later. An immediate response is often a hasty response. Don't rule out the possibility that a misunderstanding or misinterpretation might occur. It is common with e-mail because of the lack of physical cues.

11. Use Mixed Case: avoid putting text in all capital letters.

Most users suggest that you avoid putting all text in caps because it may seem ANGRY or HARSH. Uppercase text is often interpreted as having extra emphasis.

12. Cite the appropriate references and context of a message.

Reference any related e-mail message or posting, and the event, topic, or issue that your message refers to, in order to avoid being taken out of context and misinterpreted. Take the time to back up your statements with references to documents or articles just as you would in written material.

If you are forwarding or re-posting a message you've received, do not change the wording. If the message was a personal message to you and you are re-posting to a group, you should ask permission first. You may shorten the message and quote only relevant parts, but be sure you give proper attribution.

13. Be careful what you say about yourself and others.

As a general rule of thumb, don't commit anything to e-mail that you wouldn't want to become public knowledge. Think twice before posting personal information about yourself or others. There is always the chance that a message could end up in someone else's hands. Be aware that e-mail messages are often retained on system backup tapes and disks in central computing facilities after they are deleted from the mail system. Also, e-mail messages are discoverable as evidence to support litigation.

14. Proofread.

Spelling and grammar mistakes can be just as distracting in an e-mail message as they are in written communications. Take the time to proofread your messages, especially messages that are used to communicate or document agency business.

15. Reread your mail for content and tone before you send it.

On most systems, once you send a message you are committed to it, and cannot retract it.

16. Respect the privacy rights of others.

Don't invade privacy. Don't forward or distribute messages without permission. Don't read other people's mail. If you receive someone else's mail, e.g. because the sender entered a wrong address or you happen upon a PC or terminal someone failed to log-off of, use the same consideration you would with traditional mail. Inform the appropriate party, see that the mail is returned, and notify your network administrator.

17. Only post messages when they are relevant.

18. Don't make messages "urgent" when they don't need to be.

Most of us learned the lesson of "the boy who cried wolf" quite some time ago. In today's world, this lesson rings true for the misuse of priority mail notices. These notices will soon become meaningless with overuse.

19. Don't over-distribute e-mail.

Every message you send creates work for someone else who must read, consider, and deal with the message. It may be better to post some messages on an electronic bulletin board in order to reduce the number of copies routed to individual users.

20. Be aware of differences across e-mail systems.

Others may not have the same e-mail features or capabilities you have, in which case, avoid special control characters like bold, underline, and special fonts; even tabs can differ. With the exception of binary (program) files, keep your lines under 80 characters; if possible don't exceed 72 characters. Be sure that your editor inserts carriage returns at the end of each line; if not, enter a hard return. Be extra careful with graphics. Whenever possible, find out in advance what e-mail features and software tools your recipients have.

21. Respect copyright and license agreements.

Copyright laws are applicable to e-mail networks. Some software that is available for public retrieval through the Internet requires a valid license from the vendor in order to use it legally. Posting information on networks is similar to publication. Be careful to cite references.

22. Don't be fooled by the illusion of privacy.

Assume that your message could be around for a long time. It is easy to copy, store electronically or in hard copy), resurrect, and forward anything you write in e-mail. Unless you are using an encryption device (hardware or software), you should assume that mail on the Internet is not secure.

23. Don't send abusive, harassing, or bigoted messages.

This is inappropriate and counterproductive for obvious reasons and reflects badly on the individual and the entire organization. Even on wide area networks, e-mail can usually be traced to the originating machine and user. Systems on the Internet are actually liable for the misdeeds of their users.

B. Guidelines for E-Mail Distribution Lists and Newsgroups

1. Save the subscription messages.

Save the subscription messages for any lists or News Groups that you join. These will usually tell you how to unsubscribe as well.

2. Consider that a large audience will see your posts.

Consider that a large audience will see your posts and it may include your colleagues and co-workers. Take care in what you write. Remember too, that mailing lists and Newsgroups are frequently archived, and that your words may be stored for a very long time in a place to which many people have access.

3. Identify yourself.

Make things easy for the recipient(s). In order to ensure that people know who you are; be sure to include a line or two at the end of your message with contact information. This will guarantee that any peculiarities of mailers or newsreaders that strip header information will not delete the only reference in the message of how people may reach you. You can create this file ahead of time and add it to the end of your messages. (Some mailers do this automatically.) In Internet parlance, this is known as a ".sig" or "signature" file. Your .sig file takes the place of your business card.

4. Messages and articles should be brief and to the point

Messages and articles should be brief and to the point. Don't wander off-topic, don't ramble and don't send mail or post messages solely to point out other people's errors in typing or spelling.

5. Distributing Large Files

Don't send large files to mailing lists when Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) or pointers to FTP-able (File Transfer Protocol) versions will do. If you want to send it as multiple files, be sure to follow the culture of the group. If you don't know what that is, ask.

6. Adding context with your reply

If you are sending a reply to a message or a posting be sure you summarize the original at the top of the message, or include just enough text of the original to give a context. This will make sure readers understand when they start to read your response. Giving context helps everyone. If you ask a question, be sure to post a summary. When doing so, truly summarize rather than send a cumulation of the messages you receive.

7. Be careful when you reply to messages or postings

Frequently replies are sent back to the address that originated the post - which in many cases is the address of a list or group! You may accidentally send a personal response to a great many people, embarrassing all involved. It's best to type in the address instead of relying on "reply."

8. Gratuitous replies to replies

Avoid sending messages or posting articles that are no more than gratuitous replies to replies.

9. Disagreement with one person

If you should find yourself in a disagreement with one person, make your responses to each other via mail rather than continue to send messages to the list or the group. If you are debating a point on which the group might have some interest, you may summarize for them later.

10. Do not use Auto-reply features

The auto-reply feature (and /or delivery receipt, non-delivery notice and vacation programs) of many mailers is useful for in-house communication, but quite annoying when sent to entire mailing lists. In short, do not use them. Consider unsubscribing when you cannot check your mail for an extended period.

11. Cross-Posting

When sending a message to more than one mailing list, especially if the lists are closely related, apologize for cross posting.




Parts of this Guide to E-Mail Etiquette incorporate conventions and similar guidelines compiled by: Gargano, ìGuide to Electronic Communication and Network Etiquetteî (1989); Goode and Johnson,



Electronic mail (E-mail) refers to the electronic transfer of information typically in the form of electronic messages, memoranda, and attached documents from a sending party to one or more receiving parties via an intermediate telecommunications system. Stated differently, electronic mail is a means of sending messages between computers using a computer network. Electronic mail services, as defined in this policy, not only consist of the use of state-provided electronic mail systems but also the act of sending and/or receiving electronic mail across the Internet.

As with any state-provided resource, the use of electronic mail services should be dedicated to legitimate state business and is governed by rules of conduct similar to those applicable to the use of other information technology resources. Use of electronic mail services is a privilege, which imposes certain responsibilities and obligations on state users and is subject to state government policies and local, state, and federal laws.

Acceptable use must be legal, ethical, reflect honesty, and show restraint in the consumption of shared resources.

The user should not violate intellectual property rights, information ownership rights, system security mechanisms, and should not use electronic mail to intimidate, harass or annoy.


The purpose of this "Electronic Mail Acceptable Use Policy" is to establish guidelines and minimum requirements governing the acceptable use of state-provided electronic mail (e-mail) services. By establishing and maintaining compliance with this policy, risks and costs to agencies can be minimized while the valuable potential of this communication tool can be maximized.

The objectives of this policy are to:

* ensure that the use of state-provided electronic mail services is related to, or for the benefit of, state government;

* inform users that electronic mail messages and documents are subject to the same laws, regulations, policies, and other requirements as information communicated in other written forms and formats;

* minimize disruptions to state government activities from inappropriate use of state-provided electronic mail services; and

* provide users with guidelines describing their personal responsibilities regarding confidentiality, privacy, and acceptable use of state-provided electronic mail services as defined by this policy.


This policy applies to any person(s) and/or contractor(s) (hereinafter referred to as "users") whose access to or use of electronic mail services is funded by the State or is available through equipment owned or leased by the State.


The Department of Information Technology (DOIT) is responsible for administering policies and procedures for the use of communications facilities and services by state government, and ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations. This policy has been developed to make users aware of acceptable uses of state electronic mail services and of prohibited or unacceptable uses. Final authority for the "Electronic Mail Acceptable Use Policy" lies with the Chief Information Officer of the Department of Information Technology (please see Public Act 97-9, June 18th Special Session).

Electronic Mail and Records Management

Please refer to "Electronic & Voice Mail Management and Retention Guide for State and Municipal Government Agencies" (revision of GL 95-1) at

Agency Responsibilities

All branches of government, including Executive, Judicial and Legislative, are responsible for the electronic mail activities of their users. State agencies have the responsibility to ensure that state-provided electronic mail services are used for internal and external communications which serve legitimate government functions and purposes. Managerial authority over electronic mail services should be defined, and user training programs provided which address electronic mail usage and policies.

Agencies may consider providing additional restrictions and guidelines regarding the use of electronic mail within their local environments. In considering the need for additional restrictions and guidelines, each agency may take into account its particular needs, mission, available technology, level of staff training, size, geographic diversity, and organizational culture.

User Responsibilities

Electronic mail is not private communication. All information transmitted via the State's Internet/electronic mail system(s) can be reviewed at any time. Electronic mail communications may best be regarded as a postcard rather than as a sealed letter. Disclosure may occur intentionally or inadvertently when an unauthorized user gains access to electronic messages. Disclosure may also occur when electronic mail messages are forwarded to unauthorized users, directed to the wrong recipient, or printed in a common area where others can read them.

Because of the various security, legal, and productivity issues referenced in this policy, each user has the following responsibilities:

* As an electronic mail participant, each user must comply with this "Electronic Mail Acceptable Use Policy." By participating in the use of networks and systems provided by the State, users agree to comply with state and agency policies governing their usage.

* The content of anything exchanged (sent and/or received) via electronic mail communications must be appropriate and consistent with agency policy, subject to the same restrictions as any other correspondence.

* Electronic mail communications, if allowed to accumulate on a server, can quickly consume the server's disk space and may cause system problems. Although deletion of unnecessary email communications is encouraged, users should refer to an approved record retention schedule for proper procedure regarding disposition of electronic mail communications.

* Comply with state and agency policies, procedures, and standards.

* Be courteous and follow accepted standards of etiquette.

* Protect others' privacy and confidentiality.

* Be responsible for the use of their electronic mail accounts.

* Use information technology resources efficiently and productively.

Acceptable Use

Acceptable electronic mail activities are those that conform to the purpose, goals, and mission of the agency and to each user's job duties and responsibilities. The following list, although not all-inclusive, provides some examples of acceptable uses:

* Communications, including information exchange, for professional development or to maintain job knowledge or skills;

* Use in applying for or administering grants or contracts for state government research programs or work-related applications;

* Communications with other state agencies and business partners of state agencies providing document delivery or transferring working documents/drafts for comment;

* Announcements of state laws, procedures, hearings, policies, services, or activities;

* Use involving research and information gathering in support of advisory, standards, analysis, and professional development activities related to the user's state governmental duties; and

* Communications and information exchanges directly relating to the mission, charter, and work tasks of the agency including electronic mail in direct support of work-related functions or collaborative projects.

Unacceptable Use

  Unacceptable use can be defined generally as activities that do not conform to the purpose, goals, and mission of the agency and to each user's job duties and responsibilities. Any electronic mail usage in which acceptable use is questionable should be avoided. When in doubt, seek policy clarification prior to pursuing the activity.

 Security Implications

Users should take all reasonable precautions, to prevent the use of their electronic mail account by unauthorized individuals.

Transmission of electronic mail to locations outside of the agency's local area network may require the use of the Internet for transport. Since the Internet and its tools adhere to open and documented standards and specifications, it is inherently an unsecured network that has no built-in security controls.

Although confidential and sensitive information should not be included in electronic mail communications unless proper, formalized security precautions have been established, certain electronic mail communications may be privileged or confidential. It is the responsibility of each state agency to protect confidential and sensitive information where intentional, inappropriate, or accidental disclosure of the information might expose the State or an individual to loss or harm.

No Presumption of Privacy

Electronic mail messages are not personal and private. The State reserves the right to monitor (please see Public Act 98-142) and/or log all electronic mail communications without notice. Therefore, users should have no expectation of privacy in the use of these resources.

This policy is based on the "State of Tennessee's Electronic Mail Acceptable Use Policy" dated August 1, 1997. The State of Connecticut gratefully acknowledges their permission and assistance in the development of this policy.