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Tech Talk with Greg Bailey

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Two weeks ago I talked about how to make sure your e-mails get to the exact people you want to receive them, and today I’m going to touch on that subject once again. Specifically, I’m going to talk about key features that are often misused, along with a few words on e-mail etiquette.

Mass e-mails are a common occurrence, it is regular for a group of people to communicate through one e-mail sent to all members of the group.

However, after receiving a large mass e-mail with several names in the CC: field, you may have to send a reply back to the person who sent the e-mail in the first place. When doing this, there are two options, “Reply” and “Reply All”. It is important to chose the correct option.

“Reply” does just what it sounds like, it will send a reply to only the person who sent the e-mail to you in the first place, AKA the person in the “From:” field of the e-mail you are replying to. If you only want this person to see the e-mail, and not all of the other people who were in the CC: field of the original email, use Reply.

Reply All”, on the other hand, is the opposite. If you use Reply All, your reply will be sent to not just the original sender of the e-mail, but also every single address in the CC: field of the e-mail being replied to (If the original e-mail had names in the BCC: field, Reply All will not send the e-mail to them, since you don’t know the addresses). More often than not, this is not intended. Make sure that when replying to a mass email, you chose the proper option between Reply and Reply All, depending on who you want to receive the reply.

On the subject of mass e-mail, I’d like to mention one of the messages that everyone hates getting: chain letters. For those who have never heard of them, a chain letter is an e-mail that requests to be forwarded to everyone you know. Typically, they will promise something positive or threaten something negative based on whether or not you forward it to your contacts.

Normally the actual content of the chain letter is meaningless, it can be something like an urban legend or a list of random facts or a political statement. The point is, you should not forward these under any circumstances.

Not forwarding chain letters isn’t a security issue as much as a courtesy issue. Nobody likes an Inbox cluttered with spam and other nonsense. By forwarding the chain letter you are just contributing to that clutter, and doing it to your friends and family.

The real power of chain letters is that even if only a few people continue to forward them, they will continue to propagate. Do what you can on your end, and delete chain letters as soon as you get them.

This article is part of a series devoted to Internet security, and learning how to keep you and your information safe. Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@gmail.com. Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.

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