Email etiquette

I kind of stumbled onto a discussion about HTML email formatting. Obviously Microsoft has chosen to use a crappier rendering engine in the new versions of Outlook. How touching.

Fact is, completely disabling the HTML rendering is one of the first things I do when setting up my email client. One thing is that it takes the air out of 99% of all the phishing/spam/trojan/whatever mails you receive.

Second, and more importantly, to this date I have never ever received an email that added any significant value to the content by using HTML. Really, there are only two uses I’ve ever seen: a) “Cool” Outlook templates used by hapless people and b) marketing mail made posher by HTML.

Now, I don’t mind anyone sending me pimped email, as long as they have the courtesy to include a readable plain-text version. It shouldn’t be too hard, really.

Worst offender so far: The “social networking” people from Facebook. Every single email from them looks like this to me:

This message contains a rich-text HTML portion. Consult your mail client’s documentation for infomation on how to view it.

And of course it contains only one single sentence and a hyperlink. Close second is actually eBay – their text-only version is a convoluted mess. But to be honest even the HTML versions of their things tend to be badly laid out and nearly unreadable.

Last candidate on today’s list of email offenders is Hotspot company The Cloud. After using one of their WiFi hotspots, they are hell-bent on sending me their newsletter. They did include a plain text version – what they didn’t do is to provide any information on why they’re sending me their stuff or how to unsubscribe.

Email communication is quite essential in today’s business world. And people hate dealing with crap in their inbox, simply because there’s so much of it.

So it’s even more stunning that there are companies out there who still don’t know the most basic of rules.


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