Friday, August 21, 2009

I don't need to see the email addressess of your 1,000 friends

There's this field in email called "bcc." Learn how to use it properly and not annoy the hell out of your friends.

"BCC" stands for "blind carbon copy" and it's a hangover from the old typewriter days. (Click here if you don't know what a typewriter is.)*

What it means: The person(s) listed in the "to" or "cc" field don't see the names/emails of anyone in the "bcc" field. In corporate america, this is great for sending secret/confidential information.

Out here in the real world, "bcc" is great when you have more than a few folks to email, i.e., more than four.

When sending out mass emails for your Tupperware party, improv show, Super Bowl party, bachelor/bachelorette party, book club, job lead, request for job leads -- you catch my drift -- send one copy to yourself, and list your myriad contacts in the "bcc" field.


Well, as is a good practice, put yourself in your reader's shoes. No one likes to get an email, open it, and then have to scroll for 2 pages past all the "to:" emails. Plus, the reader is also thinking, "Great, now all these people I don't know can contact me. I thought that's what facebook was for."

Now, once your friends pick up on this tip and start sending you clean emails, you have a responsibility as the recipient in the "bcc" field.

Do not hit "reply to all" if you're a "bcc." (You can tell you're a "bcc" if you look up at your name. It will say: "bcc: [Your Name/email].")

Why? Because the initial recipients aren't supposed to know you received this email. Secondly, mass "reply to all"s are annoying as fuck.

I once sent an email to a client of mine, recommending the services of my friend "Alex." I put "Alex" in the "bcc" field so he would know I was referring business to him. "Alex" then did a stupid thing and hit "reply to all" and addressed my client, asking for a sales meeting. Oh, I was pissed.

* I am genuinely surprised that a) typewriters are still manufactured, b) they are
expensive, and c) one model is actually on backorder and not due in until Halloween of this year. Yikes!