On-line tools: Emails

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edit  ·  ToolkitKnowledge Management
(see also the WaterWiki Toolkit)
UNDP/BRC KM Approach | E-Moderation | On-line Community of Practice | Virtual CoP | Facilitation (based on an Interview with Patricia Keays)
On-Line Tools (emerged mostly from an online Course on E-moderation): Chat-Rooms | Wikis | Emails | The On-Line Classroom | SKYPE | Doodle - Easy scheduling of events | Time and Date | Create free on-line surveys
Other Resources: Learning Game | Brainstorming on "Running CoPs Successfully" | E-Moderator-Course#E-Moderator.27s_Toolbox E-Moderator Toolbox | Oxfam - Sharing Knowledge Handbook 2 | Web4Dev Nairobi 2007 (WaterWiki-presentation Nairobi web4dev-conf Nov07) | KM as tool for Tsunami Response | Communities of practice for development in the Middle East and North Africa



General Aspects:

  • Email is a fine tool because it can be very fast and is easy to handle. Even under adverse circumstances, e.g., in an internet cafe or with a bad connection, sending email is something that mostly works.
  • Email also has its flaws for various reasons (see below under challenges)


  • It is the most common tool so can accomodate many members.

Technical Aspects:

  • Almost everyone have or can access, even in some parts of rural areas.
  • It can be used as very low-connectivity friendly tool


General Aspects:

  • Email is increasingly challenged by 2 factors:
    • a) its own success (active professionals are getting tons of emails every day...)
    • b) its abuse for spamming (... among which in my case - Andreas - 80% are spam)
  • both factors can hamper or inhibit effective communication
  • in active discussion groups with heavy emailing, it is difficult to maintain the overview. Here, discussion groups with threads are more suitable.


  • On people's reaction to spamming (by Andreas)
    • everybody today is annoyed by spam (except for the spammers themselves, I guess)
    • thus, people take measures to protect their "real" email addresses
    • often, they open free email accounts at hotline.com, yahoo.com etc.
    • these free email accounts are often considered as "less valuable" and only used if an address is needed to subscribe somewhere
    • it goes without saying that a) these email accounts are often not checked as regularly as the real ones and b) that their turnover is rather fast
    • thus, it happens more easily that the account is full or discontinued and/or emails are rejected
    • as manager of a large mailing list (1200 email addresses) I can say that on average about 15% of all email sent do not reach their recipients, regardless how careful I am trying to cleanse it every so often
    • this can be a rather painsome experience
    • conclusion: if you can afford it, insist that people use their real email addresses

Technical Aspects:

  • On spamming and spam filters (by Andreas):
    • Spamming stands for sending unwanted mass emails for commercial purposes
    • a large amount of all emails sent are accounted to spamming
    • every serious email provider today offers spam filters to reduce the amount of spamming
    • the spam filters apply certain rules to incoming email and classify them either as SPAM or not
    • these rules are completely inaccessible for the normal user
    • thus, it can happen that you send an email that is unwantedly labelled as spam
    • this happened, e.g., to Juerg last week -> his mail "MEETING TODAY" of Friday April 7 was branded as spam by my email server...
    • ... because he used only CAPITALS in the subject
    • if I had not checked the spam folder of my email programm by coincidence, I would have missed out on it
    • thus, spam filters can sometimes interrupt communication
    • even sending the same email twice will not help -> the spam filter rules applied will be exactly the same
    • conclusion: be aware of this new phenomenon effecting email!

10 DOs and DON'Ts


  1. always assume you communicate to a child/lay-person with only 1 minute to read and understand your message
  2. no more than 2-3 main messages
  3. clear assignment and instruction of requests/tasks
  4. always make BCC to avoid misuse of email addresses for junk forwards (unless you want to enable recipients to reply-to-all deliberatly)
  5. ..


  1. CC to people that may NOT be interested.. (JUERG: how to formulate the issue about too many e-mails that are not relevant here? anybody feel free to change!..)
  2. mix jokes and instructions
  3. ...

Other Remarks


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