Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 51

after the note has been opened. In The Computer Curmudgeon, Guy Kawasaki claims that "receipts are insulting. You are saying to the recipient: 'You're a lazy schlub who never reads his email.'"

Guy has a point, but he goes a little too far. First of all, there are lazy schlubs who never read their email. (See "Email overload imagined" on page 97.) Second, using a receipt is a really good idea when you're not sure whether the email system is working. Where I used to work, the gateway between the Mac mail system and the PC mail system went down all the time. Eventually, I started using a return receipt any time I sent important mail to a PC user because that was the only way I'd know whether the mail had gone through.

Receipts are also useful when you're dealing with high-level executives who are generally good about checking their email but have crazy travel and meeting schedules. If the note isn't read in a reasonable amount of time, you can follow up with a phone call and check whether it was received.

Some systems tell the recipient that you're getting a return receipt and some don't. The ones that notify the mail recipient are practicing better Netiquette.

Prescheduled "ticklers": Friendly reminder or Orwellian control mechanism?

Some systems allow you to write a note months ahead of time and schedule it to be sent later. You could use this feature, for example, to remind yourself to buy your mom a birthday present. Your manager could use it to remind you and your colleagues that an important deadline is approaching. But you wouldn't necessarily know whether he'd written it yesterday or six months ago. On the other hand, you could tell the boss you're working at home, schedule a "progress report" message to be sent off at 3:00 p.m., and take off for the beach.

Netiquette's call on prescheduled ticklers is that the technology is value-neutral; it all depends on how it's used. No manager should use electronic communication to replace human interaction. That's bad Netiquette and bad management. It's both dishonest and rude to claim

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