Netiquette Banner Netiquette, by Virginia Shea, page 62
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Signature files

Some systems allow people to create a "signature file" or "sig file." These signatures automatically appear at the end of each message the person sends. They usually contain the person's full name and often include cute quotes or little drawings. For example:

    A\   Seth Ross
   A A\   Publisher, Albion Books
  A   A\   4547 California St., San Francisco, CA 94118
 AAAAAAA\   seth@albion.com, 415-752-7666, fax 415-752-5417
A       A\   "Computer books for a converging world."
 

Some people rant about oversized or silly signatures. But from a time-wasting point of view, they're not really that big a deal. Since they're automatically inserted at the end of the message, you can read the whole message without looking at the whole sig. On the other hand, the force of human curiosity that drives us onto the net in the first place makes it hard for many of us to ignore screens full of type, even if we know there's probably nothing worth reading there.

One positive aspect of sigs is that they often contain "offline" contact information. This can actually save time and bandwidth because it allows people to respond privately by telephone or by (gasp) U.S. mail. By placing an email address in a sig, the sender is also hedging against the chance that the email "header" message may get garbled in transit.

In most situations, Netiquette frowns on excessive sigs and smiles on pithy ones. Keep in mind that some public access Internet sites automatically restrict sigs to four lines. Silly sigs are definitely not recommended for business correspondence -- see "Electronic Mail at Work" on page 91 for a discussion of the rules of business email.


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