April 28, 2007

EMail Address Policy

If you share your email address with me, I automatically assume that you don’t want me sharing it with anyone else.

Occasionally, people ask me for someone else’s email address. My base answer is “no” with an explanation that people share their email addresses with me in confidence. I will sometimes suggest an alternate method of getting in touch with them (their website, a forum).

If a good friend asks for another good friend’s email, and they are both friends, I make a judgment call. Usually there are special circumstances (someone has changed jobs, and no longer has access to the old address, for example, but I know the two people are on email terms). And such decisions are nearly always very easy. But I try hard to err on the side of caution.

One sticky place is sending out group emails. I don’t do that often, but hwen I do I am sometimes careful about spreading around addresses. I should be more careful, perhaps using BCC instead of To or CC so that people can’t see the other recipients. But usually, if I am sending a group message, it’s among people who know each other already and inter-email.

Work has a similar set of rules, although work email addresses are usually specifically for sharing among work associates.

If you’re a complete stranger, you’re going to get referred elsewhere to find the email address. If I’m feeling like I’ve got time on my hands, I will sometimes send your email address along to the person in question and let them decide if they want to contact you back.

Do you consciously protect your address book?

Posted by James at April 28, 2007 1:28 PM
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Generally yes. Unless I am strongly inclined to think that the person in question would want to be contacted.

Suppose for example you told me that you desperately wanted a 1937-S Buffalo Head Nickel, and then somebody else contacted me and said "hey I have this 1937-S buffalo head nickel... know anybody who wants it?"

I *might* give your e-mail address to the person, especially if I had no easy access to a computer at the time.

In all likelihood I would try to contact you first though.

Posted by: Chuck S. at April 28, 2007 3:46 PM

I send out a Bad Joke of the Day to people who want it. It's sent BCC because it's a mix of people who know each other from work-related situations (different employers, same field) but wouldn't know each other's personal email addresses. (And since the jokes can contain questionable material, I won't send to work addresses.) I'll pass messages if requested, but that's all.

For work, I should guard my distribution lists better than I do. I send out job-related emails to people at many different agencies within my field, and tend to type the Distribution List's name in the "To" field. Occasionally someone on the list will click "Reply to All" unintentionally. Occasionally someone will click "Reply to All" on purpose to send a message out to the same group. Once the message intentionally sent out to the group was NOT a message I would have endorsed or distributed, and because of a miswording in the body of the text, it appeared that *I* had something to do with sending out confidential information. There was some icky conversations with agency, state, and NYC folks about that one, and I was cleared. I advised people on my distribution lists that they should not be using my emails for other mailings, but every once in a while someone does...

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at April 28, 2007 3:50 PM

I do protect my address book. I figure other people don't want any more spam than I do, plus you never know what kind of privacy issues someone may have.

Posted by: leslie at April 28, 2007 3:54 PM

Interesting issue, MJ, that I hadn't even considered, even though I'm sure we've all seen that sort of problem happen before. Origin is often confusing to many people when someone replies to a group email.

Posted by: James at April 28, 2007 4:08 PM

When sending email to one of my classes, I use the BCC field so the students can't see each other's email addresses. Once, a student (BBall Player) requested another student's (Smart Chick) address. I told BBall Player that if he wished, I would send Smart Chick HIS address, with the request that she contact him to study together (which is why he claimed he wanted her email address). I don't know, even that may have been awkward, maybe I should have told him to approach her personally, since they're in the same class.

Posted by: Maggie at April 28, 2007 5:04 PM

Mostly, I agree that I don't want my email address given out. However, there are a few exceptions. Like if James Spader asks for it.

Posted by: Julie at April 30, 2007 10:13 AM

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