Information Systems College of Business Administration University of Missouri - St. Louis

Points for Effective
Computer Mediated Communication

Extracted from: Howard Rosenbaum and Gregory B. Newby, "An Emerging Form of Human Communication: Computer Networking"
In ASIS '90: Proceedings of the 53rd ASIS Annual Meeting 1990, V. 27, Toronto, Ontario November 4-8, 1990.

These points apply for personal email, mail to a group of people, mail sent to a distribution list, or items posted to a Usenet or other bulletin board-type systems.

* Read carefully what you receive, to make sure that you are not misunderstanding the message.

* Read carefully what you send, to make sure that your message will not be misunderstood.

* If you are using humor or sarcasm, make sure it is clearly labeled as such.

* Remember that the absence of cues associated with face to face communication provide for an environment where it is easy to misunderstand what is being said.

* Know your audience. Make sure that the person or list of people you are sending your message to are the appropriate one(s) with whom to communicate.

* Be tolerant of newcomers. Do not abuse new users of computer networks for their ignorance -- be patient as they first learn to crawl, then to walk.

* Avoid cluttering your messages with excessive emphasis (such as stars, arrows and the like). It may make the message hard to follow.

* If you are responding to a message, either include part of the original message in your message, or make sure you unambiguously refer to the original message"s contents. It is very possible that people will read your response to the message before they read the original (A convention is to precede each line of the original message you include with the ">" character.)

* Always include a descriptive subject line in your message. If you are responding to another message, your subject line should be the same, with "RE:" at the beginning. If you are going off track, change the subject line. For example, if the original subject was: "Email." the followup subject would be "RE: Email." A spin-off subject would be: "My view of the world (was RE: Email)."

* Keep messages to only one subject. This allows readers to quickly decide whether they need to read the message in full. Second subjects may be missed.

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