Monday, March 5, 2012

One Way the Internet Is Broken

At least 25% of email I send is never read....because I follow the standard practice of quoting back portions of my correspondent's previous email and replying to each quoteback separately.

The problem is that a surprisingly large number of people stop reading when they reach the second quoteback....which is actually understandable, since many people quote back the entire previous email beneath their response, which trains everyone to stop reading once they come to a large section of quoteback.

My current solution is extremely clunky. I write, before each quoteback,

"Keep reading, please....I'll respond to the portion quoted back immediately below:

There's got to be a better way, but I honestly can't think of it. Suggestions?


Seth Godin said...

I start by saying,

"My thoughts below"

and then, put in a few thoughts early in the process, to train the reader to expect them as they come. You can even put in something like

"I agree"

right after the first sentence or two

Jim Leff said...

Thanks, Seth. I'd noticed your "My thoughts below" and never connected it with this problem!

"put in a few thoughts early in the process, to train the reader to expect them as they come."

So you mean short responses to short quotebacks, so they get accustomed to the call/response pattern? If so, not sure about that. I find that whatever I say doesn't's an unconscious thing that when they hit the next quoteback after the first response, they just turn off, regardless of what I say or how I lead.

Unless I disrupt that with a super klunky "For the love of Christ, PLEASE keep reading down the frigging page!" plea. And know what? Even that doesn't work. That just gets them through the next quoteback, unless repeated every single time.

Anonymous said...

The solution is to reply to legal opponent's lawyers using plenty of quotebacks. The more important the info you're giving them, the more quotebacks you have above the important one.

bobjbkln said...

I simply start the email with the note: RESPONSES INTERSPERSED and say nothing else above the beginning of the quoted letter. Of course if the reader is using an email client (such as Thunderbird) that provides a color coded distinction between the quoted material and the responses, it should be very easy for them to pick up what you are doing.

Dave said...

I'm with Bobjbkin on this. Let graphics do the work for you -- whether it is color coding, indenting, or even (not my preference), italics. But I don't remember ever encountering this problem.

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