Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Re: My thoughts on e-mail subject lines

I never get people who put "re:" in the subject line of an e-mail they initiate, such as "re: party plans." I know they're using it as "regarding," as in, "this e-mail is regarding the plans for the party." In this age of get-to-the-point and short attention spans, you'd think people would cut to the chase rather than take the time to type out two extra letters and a form of punctuation that needs the shift key.

Beyond that, I think 99 percent of the emailing populace looks at "re:" as "reply." So if the initial e-mail subject was "party plans," an e-mail in reply would be, "re: party plans." Of course, it could still stand for "regarding," and that may have been the thought when it was coded into the "reply" button in our e-mail clients, but in that case, the "re:" is a shortened form of "regarding your e-mail about party plans."

I also can't stand when the entire contents of an e-mail is in the subject line, with nothing in the body. I understand the time-saving nature of this exercise, both on the part of the sender and that of the receiver, but I  look at the subject line as the tease and open the e-mail to get the full gratification of what this all-important communique contains.

Maybe that's why I'm only marginally active on Twitter -- I want more. I like the long-form articles in The New Yorker, the "continued on p. 121" features in Outside and the back-of-the-book features in Sports Illustrated. After 140 characters, I still want to know more.

But then again, maybe I don't need that much more. I can barely keep up with my magazines and internet reading enough to get through a book in a reasonable amount of time, and nevermind writing the long posts I used to enjoy crafting.

This surely isn't going to be one of them...

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