A reader brought up a great question - What is Proper E-Mail Etiquette? Another reader comments on some risky practices - here are some questions and answers - and the letters. If you have suggestions or advice to offer, please Send Them!.

1. What is the best approach for sending that first e-mail?

  • Answer DO NOT SEND A FORM LETTER! There is no bigger turn off than the person who sends out oh so many letters that they've devised a form letter. It usually contains some personal opening, their basic profile, and a way to contact them. How do you know when it's a form letter? When you get the same letter a few weeks later! Don't do it! If you want to meet someone, and you found their profile interesting enough to respond to, take a few minutes to compose a thoughtful, personal reply - tell them what you liked about their profile, what your interests are, and whatever other information you would like them to know about you!

2. When should I expect a reply to my e-mail?

  • Answer: If you haven't heard anything within three days (Holiday Weekends you might want to allow an extra two days) - you've waited long enough. It would be nice if everyone could take a moment and just send a brief reply - something like "I got your e-mail, I'll be sending you a detailed reply when I have a bit more time" or "thanks for your e-mail, I have other matters pending which have me too busy to respond right now" would be good - sending nothing is rude.

3. What Should I Not Say In My First E-Mail?

  • Answer Don't talk about sex right off the bat! It's a turn off - to either gender. Don't talk about your worst attributes, don't lie to them. Be honest and up front. Sure, that may be a turn-off to a lot of people - but every single one of them will appreciate the honesty. The right people for you will enjoy taking the time to get to know you - just tell the truth!

4. Is it Okay to Send E-Mail from My Regular E-mail Address?

  • Answer: I don't recommend it at first. See the letter from a gentleman reader below. There's simply way too much information that can be obtained from your real e-mail. Most people don't reconfigure their internet mail programs to not list their names, etc. This can be dangerous. Just with your name, they can go to other internet sites and get your address, telephone number, etc. I strongly recommend getting a free e-mail address such as Valise or Hotmail. After you've corresponded for a time, perhaps even spoken on the phone, and feel this person is honorable, then you can give them more information about yourself.

The following is a letter I received from a gentleman reader - along the same vein as the above:

July 1, 1998 - I enjoyed reading the stories and info on your pages. It is about time someone gave out some hints to folks so they can protect themselves.

One thing I have noticed is the number of times I have received email back from an ad I responded to and the "address" contained the ladies real name ... from this info, it is easy to look up a phone number and address. You should publish directions on how to change the different browsers to reflect a handle rather than a name ... or advise people to respond from an email sight (Hotmail or Yahoo) using an ID ... I always try and warn the ladies to change the info but often as not, they don't ...

Wild's Reply - That's great advice! Okay, for anybody who does not know how to change their internet e-mail info - here's a basic tutorial:

  • First, all browsers are not the same. But the principle works for all of them. In your internet e-mail program (Internet Explorer or Netscape) when in your mail program - usually go to Edit then Preferences or Options. Locate the part of your internet e-mail program that covers "Identity". You will see things like "name" and "reply to" and "from". You do not need "name" or "reply to" or "from" to have real information. In fact, any of these fields, when entered into a reverse lookup program on the internet, can return real information about you. Anyone who knows how to view the source of e-mail can still get your real e-mail address - but not your name, etc., and it's for those reasons I still recommend Valise or Hotmail. Change those fields to either no information or artificial information.

These are not foolproof. As I said, by viewing the source of any e-mail, most people can see who the letter came from. But for those who don't know, it's better than nothing.

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