Michael Lopp on email:

For a new topic, my expectation is that the subject line gives me an inkling of what I’m about to read. “Question” is not a subject. “Question regarding the impending disaster in engineering” is a better subject. The best, “Calamity is a man’s true touchstone.”

This seems really cool, but I hope that no one sends me a work email like this — I’d hate it. The reason: it doesn’t work well for recalling the email.

Say a client wants to talk to me about strategies for getting a tenant to pay back rent, a poetic subject line, while fun to read, will end up making that email harder to find later. Yes I can find the email, but what if there are several threads talking about this issues, as there typically is in my job, then I’d have to go through each one to find the right thread. But with truly descriptive subjects lines I can usually find the email on first try.

So for a roof leak email, “Roof leak in suite 159” works far better than, “The heavens hath opened”.

I do like the rest of his thoughts especially this bit:

I’ve noticed that we’ve taken to blasting through our paragraphs and either using a default signature or no signature at all and I’m of the opinion that an unsigned email is a lost opportunity to say something small and important.

I hate, hate default email signatures. If your email signature has an image of your company logo in it, I will be annoyed like you wouldn’t believe. That’s worse than a legal disclaimer, which are ridiculously idiotic to begin with. Here’s how I use email signatures: first email to you, you get my default signature filled with contact info; every other correspondence you get my name like this -Ben. I’ve never used things like ‘best’, occasionally, if warranted, it will say thanks, but mostly I just say: “Let me know if you need anything else” or “Let me know if you have any questions”. Both are TextExpander snippets.

Now that I think about it, I need to get better about signing off.


Posted by Ben Brooks