Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 56

Sometimes the mail system will send you notification that your mail could not be delivered. When that happens, don't just resend the note; try to find out what the problem was. You may have put the wrong address on the message, or a gateway between mail systems might be down, or the other person's mail system might be down, or there might be a problem with your own mail system. Here's what to do:

  • Ask around and find out whether your colleagues are having problems with your local mail system. If the answer is no,
  • Call the other person and check whether you used the right email address.
  • If you used the correct address, ask whether they've been having email problems.

If it turns out that you used the wrong address, you can just resend the message using the right one. If there's a mail system problem, or if you can't figure out what the problem is, you'll have to resend the message later or figure out alternative means of transferring the information.

If you're sending email to the Internet, and you don't have any other way of getting through, you can send a query to postmaster@yourrecipients.domain. Internet system administration convention requires that there be a real live person at the postmaster address, one who may or may not be willing to help with your problem. (Of course, this only works if you have the right domain name.)

If you've sent email to someone and haven't received a response as quickly as you expected, don't just assume that your correspondent is goofing off. Give him the benefit of the doubt and check whether your message ever arrived. This is a variation on the old grandparents' trick for eliciting prompt thank-you notes: "I didn't get a letter so I was worried that you didn't receive my gift." It works pretty well. If the note was, in fact, lost, you've done your correspondent a favor. And if it wasn't, you'll probably embarrass him into action.

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