Sometimes, I do not even answer an e-mail from a student in my class. Why?, you may ask. Simply because I am deeply offended by the lack of courtesy, displayed by poor grammar, capitalization, interpunction and I do not want to engage in a discussion with a person, a college student at that, who clearly does not value language skills.

"Hi Im a student in your tuesday and thursday 1230 lecture. I have
sent you 2 emails so far since last tuesday when we had a quiz. And in
the emails i was wondering if i could retake the quiz.My grandfather past
away on saturday and the funeral was on tuesday so i couldnt be in class.
so i was wondering if there is any chance i could retake it, please! I
know i did bad on 1 test so i needthis quiz to boost my grade. well if u
wont let me take the quiz please tell me and if possible could u tell me
my grades on the past few test i dont remember i wanna know how much this
will effect me.Could u please respond if u get this email i would really
like to know thank you very much for your time and sorry about the

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And maybe I am right not corresponding with students, with some of them for sure. They keep your e-mail and either use it for mass mailings, or have it stolen by some fishing program. Here is mail that I got from my former student, with whom I had no social relationship, she would have no knowledge, whether I was interested in keeping home pets and, as an NIU graduate, she still cannot spell, no matter how often I corrected spelling in her tests:

Free Pets!
Thu, 19 Jul 2007 22:48:14 -0500
"Sara Ellison" <>

.... there were 171 names on the distribution list ....

Anybody want a guinea pig or two. We currently have three and are trying to find new homes for all of them. There are 2 girls which at least until now have lived together and one male.
The male is older, he probably won't live that long. The girls have probably live about half of there lifes. We have found that one of our cats is way too interested in them. Also, we just don't play with them like we use to. We would like to find someone that would love and play with them again. If you are interest you have about a week to call me at 824-906-1029, my house at 824-928-9899 or send me a message back here.


by Letitia Baldrige

Here is the text from the above link.

USA Today Opinion Column 05/05/00- Updated 04:06 PM ET

Let’s put some humanity into e-mail

E-mail is so beloved, universally accepted and adored that I feel almost like a traitor suggesting that there is a growing trend to abuse it. To many people, a criticism of the use of e-mail is like disrespecting the American flag. But from the perspective of a social behaviorist and a writer on manners, I think we ought to be teaching our children how to be better mannered with their e-mail. Otherwise, when they grow into adulthood, they will compound the rudeness and lack of civility on all levels apparent in today's correspondence.

In the interest of civilization, whether you are a parent, business manager, cyberspace whiz kid, teacher, artist, lawyer, doctor, or even a future billionaire entrepreneur, you will be an admired leader if you practice good e-mail manners. These manners will continue to evolve as time goes on. But for the year 2000, here are a few guidelines to contemplate:

It is decidedly rude to make mistakes in grammar, spelling, sentence structure and punctuation in e-mail. It is rude because the recipient will then have difficulty reading and understanding the message. If the message is sloppy and unedited, he or she might get quite the opposite meaning from what was intended.

It may be considered "cute" to abbreviate everything, but to see a flood of letters using acronyms and abbreviations is upsetting to the eye, breaks into the rhythm of the thought, and makes comprehension of a message slower and more difficult. This practice also sticks just one more nail in the coffin of the English language, particularly when people start to speak in acronyms and abbreviations. Talk about gibberish - it's time to call the grammar police!

E-mails should have an addressee's name at the top of the message, just like in a letter. Some people use a bunch of unintelligible letters and numbers for an e-mail address, and when there is no signature on their e-mails, the recipient has to waste a lot of time finding out just who has written him or her. "C425J" doesn't mean a thing to most people. Along with the "Dear Joe" salutation, there should be a complimentary closing in an e-mail. The message shouldn't just end in suspense, like a helicopter hanging in the air overhead. These closings can be informal: "Sincerely yours" may seem archaic, so try "Hope all goes well," "Give my best to everyone" or "Hope to see you soon again in our town." The recipient of your message should feel some note of warmth after reading your message.

Business e-mails should be copied to anyone who is concerned with the matter at hand. People who are deeply involved with a project feel threatened when they are not copied on an important message.

Business e-mails often sound like dogs barking at each other. We should soften our rhetoric. Note the difference between someone writing, "Send that info at once," and someone writing, "I'd really appreciate your sending that to me as soon as possible. Thanks." The person who receives the second message is going to feel much better about taking action than the first one. Phrases like, "It would be really helpful if," or "I hate to bother you with this extra work, but it would really help us if" or "I can't thank you enough for the hard work you put into this," soften up the recipient of the message.

We need every bit of help we can get in making our society more user-friendly, in softening up the technology that drives us so relentlessly on a daily basis. Each one of us can become a role model for anyone around who sees our communications. We should put a smile on the faces of those who read our e-mails, and by that I do not mean that dreadful smiley face symbol used by some in their messages! (We need good words, not infantile symbols.)

I guess I've spoken frankly, perhaps too much so. But this society of ours is having so many lapses and let-downs, it's time to realize we should be more careful in how and what we write in cyberspace. Someone asked me the other day, "What's the test for a well phrased e-mail?" and my reply was, "If it's something you'd be proud to have people see a hundred years from now - as representative of our culture, our philosophy, and our style of doing business." Now there's a challenge!

Placed here 16 October 2002

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An article appeared September 7, 2013, on page C3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: E-Etiquette in the college classroom. The author was Prof. Evan Selinger from the Rochester Institute of Technology. I have the article on the screen in front of me and I could easily link it. Except, this is for subscribers only and the link would not work and it if somehow did through an embeded password, it would be copyright violation on my side. Put in a search engine "E-Etiquette in the college classroom" and I am sure the article will show up somewhere.

What I like about the article is, that, 11 years after I posted the above material, a lot, if not all, is still valid. And all of this, in spite of fast and easy electronic communication. Maybe, because of that. I, for one, am one of the instructors who "expect[s] a formal greeting and sign off, and view[s] the cut-to-the-chase approach as a rude affront that treats educational conversation like an automated customer-service call."