Talk:Email communication guidelines

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This a request, open for discussion. It has not been deliberated to consensus by the villagers. It will be agreed, modified, or tabled at the meeting of 20090922.

Email Communication, Suggested Guidelines

(Shannon's edits)

Email is a powerful tool for communication. The purpose of these guidelines are to assist email communicators to be aware of the benefits and pitfalls involved in the use of this tool, both as email senders and receivers.

Benefits of Email

  • Our experience has taught us that it is most effective for the following practical uses:
    • making announcements
    • gathering or sharing information
    • sending out drafts of proposals


  • Email technology can be a contributor to alienating communication - where senders and receivers create negative feelings as a result of email information that impact themselves and others unless or until they are "cleared".
  • In specific cases, it can be more productive to initiate a direct conversation with the other person, either face to face or by phone call.

Recommended uses of email include:

  • community-building (borrowing items, ridesharing, etc.)
  • minutes distribution
  • announcements
  • logistics
  • factual information
  • background research & documentation
  • posting agendas
  • sending out drafts of proposals

Don't try to use email for:

  • giving and receiving personal feedback about each other's behaviour
  • sharing upset feelings
  • resolving interpersonal tensions
  • discussions that have significant emotional content
  • revising proposals if there is any emotional charge
  • sarcasm
  • replying in kind to an email that has made you feel upset:
    • e.g. if you read an email and felt offended, like it was a waste of your time, was poorly phrased or unnecessary, or with which you strongly disagree.
    • In such instances, please telephone the sender in that moment and request a conversation with them, or reply (via email) with a request to talk in person or via telephone at a mutually convenient time

When in doubt, don't hit the Send button!

Other Things To Keep In Mind

  • Email tends to favour fast readers and fast typists, which often include people who are more verbally articulate and express themselves in a linear way
  • Some people check email often, others only occasionally or almost never
  • Most people get too many emails for the amount of time they can devote to reading and replying. Therefore:
    • Use a clear subject line to help people filter what to read
    • Be as brief and concise as possible. Unless the email involves detailed factual information (such as sharing drafts of a document under discussion, or giving detailed driving directions to a destination, for example), be brief.
    • A suggested guideline for an email that does not require richly detailed factual content, limit the content of an email to three or four short paragraphs of, say, four to twelve lines each.

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