To use Web-based mail, all you have to know is how to use
your browser and follow the directions at the mail service's
Web site to send and retrieve your email messages.
If you are willing to learn Unix, check out this
lesson in using
mail or look for
on Unix based mail.
The support staff who runs your organizations computers will
likely have documentation online or on paper available to
you for learning how to use mail.
You can read the article on
Email Works," from HowStuffWorks.com to
familiarize yourself with the general principles involved.
What is Email Etiquette?
Don't let the fact that in email you are working with software
on machines make you forget human nature.
Human beings are behind every single thing
online, and human beings with feelings and emotions
are behind email that you send or receive.
Be careful not to send email messages inappropriately
to large numbers of people. This is called spamming
and is perhaps one of the most socially-forbidden
acts you can do on the Net.
Don't send unsolicited messages
to people on a mass scale.
Unsolicited email on a mass scale is called spam.
Fighting Email Spam
You will get plenty of unsolicted email, however.
By 2002, the Internet has become chuck full of
spam that arrives by email,
so you'll need to have some strategies to deal with it.
Avoid opening any email message you get with an attachment.
If the email has an attachment, delete it.
Attachments are a common way that email viruses spread.
You can help stop the spread of computer viruses by never opening any
mail with an attachment that you did not expect to get.
It is generally an unacceptable practice to
send information by attachments in most business
Many sites refuse to accept email with attachments.
Consider getting an email client that allows you
to filter your email. One such (free) client is
Using filtering, you can sort your email into folders based
on the subject line, email address of the sender, or
You can then use a scheme like this:
Sort known friends and family member's
mail (based on their email addresses) into a
folder called Friends.
Tell business associates, clients
students, if you are an instructor) to use a
special subject line when addressing email to you.
You can sort these messages based on this subject
line into a folder called Business.
You can create other criteria for other
For example, sort email from mailings lists that are
important to you into folders named with the
name of those lists.
You can automatically
delete email from specific senders
(or even email originating from
specific domains) that you don't want to
Sort any email that is not specifically
addressed to you (the recipient is not your
email address) into a folder called Junk.
This is a common ploy of people who send out
mass emails--the actual recipient field of
the email may not even be set to
your email address.
You can then quickly go through (or ignore)
email in the Junk folder.
Allow the email that is left to fall into
a folder called Unsorted. You can devote your
best attention to the named folders
like Friends and Business
and then quickly skim through the
Unsorted folder when
you have time.
Save the Junk folder for last.
Regularly update your filtering rules so
that email from people you care about gets sorted
into a folder that gets your best attention.
See if your Internet Service Provider has
built-in spam-fighting software. For example,
Earthlink offers its customers the use of
service which gets rid of spam before it reaches
You can sign up for the Direct Marketing Association's
Preference Service. This will get you off of
the mailing list of honest companies that use the DMA's
list to purge their mailing lists. I doubt if this
has much value, but you can sign up for it in about
five seconds or so, and this
could pay off in the long run.
When you purchase items from Web sites, make sure
matter) with any other company or person.
Make sure you opt out of any email mailings or newsletters
that you do not want.
If you need a temporary email address (to register
at a site, for example), use the
If you own a domain name, you can use the
Spam Gourmet to "eat" all the spam you will get
directed to non-existent users at your domain name.
Redirect all this email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For example, I own december.com. My domain gets email
address to: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
etc, etc, etc. All of the email addressed
to anyone except a few email addresses @december.com
gets sent to the Spam Gourmet before it ever even
gets to my email reader software.
Even if you use filtering and a "spaminator" service,
realize that you will
never, ever be completely free of spam.
It is part of the medium of the Internet.
Get to know how to use your email software
well so that you can quickly look through email
by subject line and sender,
and then delete immediately what you know is spam.
Be sure to use your
skills to avoid hoaxes. Do not
get taken in by
myths, and do not forward them to anyone else.
Make it a policy to never do business
with any services
that arrive by spam. If we all did this,
spam would disappear from the Internet.
Don't respond to spam to complain or to
get yourself off their mailing list. Your response
can be used to identify yours as an
active email account.
Your response could therefore get you even more
Some people like to show their email address
in discussion forums or on Web pages
something like this:
The idea is that automated email address harvesters,
working from Web pages or from Usenet or Web-based
discussion postings, will not be able to easily add
your email to their list, while participants in
the forums will be able to figure out
your email address by leaving out the NOSPAM part.
I don't know if
these schemes of cloaking
or keeping your email address
a guarded secret work all that well. Eventually, spammers
can generate your email address using software, and they
will find you.
I've made my email address publicly known very
widely (printed in books, articles, in front of
thousands of people at
conferences, etc.) for nearly a decade, and I don't
believe this has made me all that more vulnerable
Take a deep breath and avoid getting too worked up about spam. Use your wits to do what you can to avoid it, and then move on.
Avoid spending an obsessive amount of
time campaigning against unsolicted email or demanding
that someone do something about it.
Do support your ISP in its efforts to crack down on
spammers and cooperate in any investigations that you
can. And, definitely don't send spam yourself!
Exercise: Practice email
Send email to yourself to test out your email software.
Reply to yourself to test how to reply.