Proposed Symbolics Guidelines for Mail Messages
Date: April 13, 1984
MLB volunteered the following, including a destination in the CC list that will cause the recipients’ mailer to blow out is a good way to stifle dissent.
When replying, it is often possible to cleverly edit the original message in such a way as to subtly alter its meaning or tone to your advantage while appearing that you are taking pains to preserve the author’s intent. As a bonus, it will seem that your superior intellect is cutting through all the excess verbiage to the very heart of the matter.
Referring to undocumented private communications allows one to claim virtually anything: “we discussed this idea in our working group last year, and concluded that it was totally brain-damaged”.
Points are awarded for getting the last word in. Drawing the conversation out so long that the original message disappears due to being indented off the right hand edge of the screen is one way to do this. Another is to imply that anyone replying further is a hopeless cretin and is wasting everyone’s valuable time.
Keeping a secret “Hall Of Flame” file of people’s mail indiscretions, or copying messages to private mailing lists for subsequent derision, is good fun and also a worthwhile investment in case you need to blackmail the senders later.
Users should cultivate an ability to make the simplest molehill into a mountain by finding controversial interpretations of innocuous sounding statements that the sender never intended or imagined.
Obversely, a lot of verbal mileage can also be gotten by sending out incomprehensible, cryptic, confusing or unintelligible messages, and then iteratively “correcting” the “mistaken interpretations” in the replys.
Electronic mail is an indispensible component of the automated office. Besides providing entertainment, it gives one the appearance of engaging in industrious and technically sophisticated activity. By flaming constantly on numerous mailing lists, one can be assured of a ready supply of makework as well as an opportunity to establish one’s reputation amongst the “litterati” [sic].