Here is my pet peeve: stupid emails signatures. How do you know if your emails signature is stupid? I will explain below. First of all, here is what a non-stupid, useful email signature should look like. For unprofessional email it should include:
- The — separator
- Your full name
- Your job title
- Company Name (and possibly URL)
- Your phone and fax number
- Mailing address (only if needed)
Nothing else. Your personal emails should be even more succinct:
- The — separator
- Your Name/Nickname
- Your URL and possibly IM
- Optional tag line or short quote
Short and sweet. That’s how a sig should be. What not to put in there? Here is a list of cringe-worthy abuses of the signature field:
Everyone knows that a signature in bright red 24 point Impact font is at least 7 times better than a normal signature! And, hell – let’s also throw in a mug shot, some sort of a banner and a company logo. Why not, right? There is nothing wrong in making your email look like a post on some tacky message board.
You don’t need the colors, you don’t need images in your email. It looks stupid when a polite an professionally sounding email is followed by some loud, brightly colored, blinking, scrolling monstrosity.
Also, you definitely don’t need hyperlinks. Most email clients will automatically “linkify” text that starts with http:// so there is no need for you to include unnecessary HTML tags. Besides, your domain name should be short and easy to remember – especially if you are a company. If the URL in your sig is so long and complex it needs to be linked, you are doing something wrong.
HTML signatures are like electronic diarrhea. There should be a fine for sending one of those.
Ok, fess up – who has one of these gems in their signature:
Notice of Confidentiality: The information that is included or attached in this electronic transmission (E-Mail) may contain confidential and/or privileged information and is intended for only the person or entity to which it is addressed. Any unauthorized review, dissemination, disclosure, reproduction, distribution or other use of, or taking any action in reliance upon the contents of this information is prohibited. If you believe that you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by reply transmission and delete the message without copying or disclosing it. Thank you.
This blurb bears no legal weight. You can’t enforce it, and you can’t expect people to follow it. Notifying you that you just sent me some confidential documents is strictly common courtesy – not a legal obligation. This silly disclaimer simply tries to convince the reader that he might somehow be co-responsible for senders security blunders. It’s equivalent to for example something like this:
By reading this sentence you agree to paypal Luke the exact sum of $5 in the next 15 minute. The sentence above is a valid legal contract. Breaching the contract carries a severe legal penalty
I’m expecting to see the cash rolling in within 15 minutes from the first hit. I will be checking the server logs kids – I know your IP, and I will subopena the shit out of your puny ISP if I don’t get my $5 from you. So get on it!
I probably should also mention that email is not private and confidential in any way. It can be read by anyone with a packet sniffer at any point during the transmission. Emails is equivalent to passing a folded notebook sheet to your friend in the 2nd row during the math class. Anyone can peek inside, and chances are that the teacher might notice it, snag it before it reaches the destination.
Here is a hint: encryption is 100% more effective than a disclaimer. If it’s confidential, encrypt it.
Oh, and cry me a river Mr. and Ms. “but this is a company policy where I work”. Sorry but institutionalizing something stupid doesn’t make it smart. It just makes it sad. But it is still a waste of space, bandwidth and an annoyance to the reader.
Email Address in the Signature
Hello. Welcome to the internet. I hope you are enjoying this exciting technology called e-mail (which stands for electronic mail). One of the great features of e-mail is that it automatically sends a Reply To address with your message. The recipient will see it on their scree, and when they hit the Reply button it will automatically address the message to you.
Get on with the program. Putting your email address in the email signature is redundant and makes you look like a fucking n00b.
There are two ways to abuse this. Some people go for a single, really long, boring quote – like a poem or a whole paragraph of some bullshit that no one cares about. You want to quote your favorite author/poet? Do it on your own blog. No one needs to download and stare that quote every freaking time you send an email.
Other people go for a bucket load of random one liner quotes from various famous people. There is always some obligatory Einstein quote, and perhaps few lines from influential writers and philosophers. Cause, you know – if you put bunch of quotes by known people in your sig someone may thing you are a fucking intellectual and you actually read their works instead of going to some crappy “Famous Quotes and Trivia” website and stocking up on them.
A short one-liner is acceptable, but please, please do not pick one of those 50 or so famous quotes that everyone uses. The rule of thumb is: if you have ever seen it used as a senior quote in a high school yearbook, you should definitely not use it in your email. Also, if it’s more than one sentence, it is to long.
Did I mention Images?
I know that the HTML entry already covered this, but I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not put logos and banners in your sig. It’s tacky, ugly and unprofessional. Do not do it!
I’m sorry but whenever I get an email with a brief message like “Call me ASAP!” followed by 3 printed pages of signature text I want to scream. It’s stupid.
So how about you? What annoys you in the email signatures of your peers and colleagues?
[tags]email signatures, email, signature, sig, quote, tagline[/tags]