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Skype Outage Leaves Millions Speechless

CMP Information Week
InformationWeek Daily - Friday, Aug 17, 2007

Editor's Note

What Does Your E-Mail Signature Say About You?

Do you look at people's e-mail signatures? I usually don't, but I was looking for contact information for a colleague recently, which led me to scrutinize her sig. It was a museum of 20th Century communications: The streetmail address and fax number was in there, but no instant-message ID or Skype.

That got me thinking about e-mail signatures, and I started browsing my in-box looking at how people signed their mail. I've made the following observations:

Important people don't bother with e-mail sigs.

Your e-mail signature reflects how powerful you are. If you were profiled on 60 Minutes, you don't need no steenkin' e-mail signature.

The longer your e-mail signature, the lower down the food chain you are.

Some people put a whole novel in their sig:

  • Their full name, including "Jr." or "Sr."
  • Job title, which generally includes both the words "deputy" and assistant.
  • Streetmail address with mail stop.
  • Business phone number, with different versions for people dialing from the internal corporate PBX vs. people dialing from outside.
  • E-mail address. 'Cuz it's not like it's in the "From:" line of every e-mail or anything.
  • And finish it off with an inspirational quote from Battlestar Galactica.

If that's a description of your signature, then you're a flunky. Time for a Starbucks run, Commander Starbuck.

Some people include signoffs like "Cheers!" and "Thanks!" and "Best!"; others don't bother.

I never gave that one any thought until the New York Times analyzed signoffs and determined that a brisk signoff is tantamount to a brushoff.

This is something else for me to feel self-conscious about. Thanks, New York Times.

Some people's signatures are way too long.

One of my colleagues - actually one of my favorite people in this company, so I'll avoid naming him here - has a twenty-one line e-mail signature, which includes:

  • his name
  • title
  • Streetmail address
  • Three instant message IDs
  • E-mail
  • URLs for two sites he edits
  • Second Life avatar name
  • Name of the location of his office in Second Life
  • And the office's Second Life co-ordinates, or "SLURL."

Contrary to my earlier observation, this person is actually not a flunky; he has an important position. Wish somebody could get him to slim down his 800-pound e-mail signature.

What should people put in their e-mail signatures? What do you have in yours? Let us know.

Mitch Wagner

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