Since I have made many suggestions about gathering information from others through email, message boards, volunteer requests and so forth, I thought it would be appropriate to address the subject of netiquette.
When contacting someone, always remember that of netiquette to follow when trying to make a good impression.
1) DON’T SHOUT – Capitalizing your entire message is considered shouting which is of course considered rude.
2) Be Respectful – Address your requests in a respectful, professional manner. It is best to use the wording, To Whom it May Concern if you’re writing to someone whose gender is not obvious. Women ought to be addressed as Madame or Ms. and men as Sir.
3) Be Thankful – Always express your thanks in advance for taking the time to read your email or letter or for being willing to offer their time in volunteering.
4) Be Concise – You can ask for what you need without elaborating on the why, thereby keeping the readers attention.
5) Be Specific – Ask direct questions which of course require a direct answer. You want the recipient of your request to understand exactly what it is you are asking. Being specific also applies to Subject Titles on a Message Board. For example:
Looking for information about John Smith
The above type of subject title should be avoided. John Smith is such a common name that there could be thousands of completely unrelated John Smiths. When people are looking to reply to queries or exchange information, unless they have tons of time on their hands they’re probably not going to click on every subject that mentions just a John Smith. It is also good to be more specific with your subject in case the opposite happens and you do end up getting an overwhelming response from people wondering if your John Smith is the same as theirs. Here is another Subject Title example:
Looking for info. on John SMITH, Hamilton Co. IN born 1823
The above is much more specific, saving yourself and any readers a lot of time.
6) Spell Correctly – “a sentince like this givs a felling of slopines and encompitinse that wont atract many respones.” It is very important to appear at least somewhat intelligent. It is often the case that a person may not want to take the time to give information to someone who doesn’t appear to be smart enough to know what to do with it.
7) Capitalize Surnames – This is especially useful when posting to a message board. Here is an example of a message board Subject Title:
Seeking information on Michael Charles, William James and Ebenezer George
In the above Subject Title, none of the surnames are in capitals which will leave the reader to either assume all three men share the surname George, or that you have forgotten to put a surname for any of them and the second names written are all middle names, or that each second name is a surname.
Seeking information on Michael Charles, William James and Ebenezer GEORGE
The above Subject Title lets the reader know that all three men share the surname George.
Watch your tone – Sarcasm and joking can’t easily be detected when a voice or facial expression is not involved. It is best to avoid sarcasm or jokes at the risk of unintentionally offending someone with whom you are corresponding. You don’t want to scare away those who can help you.
9) Lastly, be Polite – Being demanding or conveying a sense of entitlement to certain information is a sure way of getting your request ignored.