27 July 2010

Email Annoyance

   Before I begin this post, I should say two things: 1. I'm annoyed right now and might come off a little snippy and 2. This post does not pertain to anyone that I've had full, complete or meaningful communication with, are on a first name basis with, or anyone in the geneablogging community. Really, I just want to vent.

   In the course of online genealogy research, I've contacted many people by email that I have never met before. Because of this, I try and maintain a professional style of writing that is polite and well-written. I state my interest in their research and why I've contacted them. Without getting too long, I state my connection and a source or two. Then inform them of where they can find more of my research. Finally, I ask if they would be willing to share their information or to answer a particular question.  I want to present myself in the best way possible in order to encourage a response.

    Now, I'm not saying that I'm perfect by any means! I've communicated with many folks who are much better at writing and communication than I am and I'm sure I've made a few email bloopers myself. And I don't expect perfection from everyone either! I just expect people to express themselves in a polite way that facilitates mutual benefit for both individuals, and in a way that maintains genealogical standards (what's your source?).

   I posted at the beginning that I was annoyed while posting this. That's due to some emails I've been receiving that don't meet any sort of expected standards. Most of these emails have come via ancestry.com's message service and findagrave.com emails.  For example, this email that I received via ancestry.com:

Nina. my son in law's mother is the daughter . can you email *** at ***.

  In this case, I had to email back and apologize for having no idea what this email was about and ask which Nina the email was in reference to. I almost ignored this email entirely and wouldn't have blamed anyone else for doing so.  This is a great example to remind me to be clear and concise in all of my genealogy communications.

   Another example that I received via FindAGrave.com for a listing correction:

Plz add: b. 1898

   Sorry, but I don't think so. Now, I can kind of forgive composition of the email, considering that the sender is filling out a form. In the end though, why should I add this information? Where did it come from and what is the source? It wasn't on the headstone, or I would already have listed the information. If you tell me, "This was my Great-Grandfather and my research shows that he died in 1898, can you please add this to the listing?" I will gladly add the information. I can even transfer ownership of the listing to you.

   On their own, an email or two like this just makes me shake my head, but they seem to be increasing in frequency, which annoys me. At the same time, every email I receive like this reminds me of what not to do - so maybe I should appreciate these!

   Regardless, thanks for reading this and I hope it didn't come off preachy or mean. I'm just annoyed.


Miriam Robbins said...

I got a lot of these kinds of responses for a number of years. For a while, I had a kind of standard response, which was helpful. I finally started ignoring them, because I didn't have the time, nor the energy, to deal with them. Good luck!

Unknown said...

I can see why you are annoyed, because it makes more work for you. You want to ignore them because they don't make sense, but are also thinking "What if something really useful or new comes from them?"

The first poster's suggestion of a standard response is a good idea, that way you don't have to spend too much time on these. Just paste the standard response and see what you get back.

Greta Koehl said...

One thing I remember learning in high school English classes was how to write various types of formal and business letters. It was good practice for writing requests for information. If they are not still teaching this in school, they should be....

Amy Coffin, MLIS said...

Ugh, I can relate. Recently I got this:

"I want to see all the (Surname) pictures you have."

That's it. No hi. No please.

Don't be mad, just be glad you were taught better than that!

Jennifer said...

If I had a dime for every annoyingly vague or horrendously under-punctuated email I've gotten... well, I'd be on my own island in the South Pacific somewhere right now. As far as I'm concerned, if people can't be bothered to at least introduce themselves, be polite, and formulate a minimally-informative email, I can't be bothered to respond.


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