Saturday, November 30, 2013

World-wide email privacy

NSA harvesting hundreds of millions of personal email contact lists - report
In previous blogs, I have mentioned that there really is not a reason to assume privacy on communications over the Internet. Not only are privacy dynamics determined locally, but they are subject to overseas consideration as well.

Published time: October 15, 2013 00:13
Edited time: October 16, 2013 09:05

The National Security Agency is logging hundreds of millions of email and instant messaging contacts belonging to Americans and others around the world, according to a report based on documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The data harvesting program, first reported by The Washington Post Monday, collects address books from email and instant messaging service in an apparent attempt to map social circles across the globe. Online communication services frequently expose an individual’s contact list when that person signs onto their account, sends a message, or connects a remote device - such as a cell phone - to a computer. 

An internal NSA PowerPoint presentation indicated that the NSA’s Special Source Operations collected 444,743 email lists from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail, and another 22,881 from other services. The documents note that those numbers show what the NSA collects in one day, meaning the intelligence agency could collect more than 250 million lists each year. 

The NSA is capable of collecting approximately 500,000 so-called buddy lists from live-chat services and the “in-box” displays from web-based email services, according to the Post.

Two NSA sources told the Post the intelligence agency uses the data to identify international connections and then find smaller, more nefarious connections between suspected criminals. The collection relies on secret deals with foreign telecommunication companies, with NSA agents monitoring internet traffic outside the US. 

The sources refused to estimate how many Americans are snared in the dragnet but did admit it could number in the tens of millions. An unnamed official was careful to mention the collection comes from “all over the world,” and “None of those are on US territory.” 

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said the NSA “is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets like terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers. We are not interested in personal information about ordinary Americans.” 

While the earlier revelation that the NSA indiscriminately collected millions of American phone records ignited outrage, email address books could provide much more detail about a person’s life. Address books often include home and work addresses, as well as business and family information. 

The potential for abuse could also be much higher, with intelligence agents able to look at a close diagram of someone’s life, including political and religious organizations. False impressions could also be created if someone neglects to delete entries belonging to friends they are no longer associated with. 

Because the collection takes place overseas, the NSA does not require nor did it receive permission from Congress or the secret intelligence court that authorizes such collection. One US official said “the assumption is you’re not a US person” when the communication passes through “the overseas collection apparatus.” 

Still, despite common past reports indicating otherwise, an official said the privacy of US citizens is safeguarded by “checks and balances built into our tools.” 

The US companies involved in the data program deny that were consulted or informed about the NSA’s policy. This is possible, the Post noted, because address books are recorded “on the fly” when a user crosses an internet switch, not from servers at rest. 

We have neither knowledge nor participation in any mass collection of webmail addresses or chat lists by the government,” said a Google spokesman.

Microsoft and Facebook offered similar denials, with the Post speculating that Yahoo lists were intercepted more often because the email service automatically leaves connections between users unencrypted, although a company representative said that policy is expected to change in January 2014. 

NSA documents prove that the intelligence agency collects so much information that its vast data facilities are nearly overwhelmed and the intake has been suddenly stopped by “emergency detasking” orders. While the agency has sought to delete information it deems no use for, at least three documents report on efforts to build an “across-the-board technology throttle for truly heinous data.”


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About Netiquette IQ

My book, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email" and the Kindle version are now available on Amazon. Please visit my author profile at





Friday, November 29, 2013

12 Tips for Twitter Netiquette

The primary focus of this blog is Netiquette for email. However I try to include other forms of electronic communications as well. This article on Twitter tips is one of the best I have read and I felt it would be great to share. Many of the items are very similar to email. This reinforces the thought that all sorts of Netiquette and etiquette principals transcend into other realms of human interaction.

12 Most Basic Twitter Etiquette Tips

Posted by Malhar Baraion Nov 29, 2013 in Blog, Digital and Online, Media, Social Media and Blogging Technology

It’s been a while since I have been on Twitter and for me it’s one of the most powerful social media platforms. I thought it might be helpful if I shared some basic Twitter etiquette that I’ve learned along the way. Sometimes, it’s a challenge when you have to convey your thoughts in 140 characters or less and that is the beauty of this platform. It makes you creative.
With almost 340 million tweets per day and over 140 million active users, the platform is being used by individuals and brands alike. The challenge lies in the Twitter being used effectively and its imperative that we follow some basic etiquette when using it either for business or personal use. Remember, you have followers to impress and that’s how social media works.

1. Don’t be an Egg Head
“Egg Head” is the default avi that Twitter uses when the user registers. Change it to a headshot (yes, even if you’re a brand). People like to interact with a face and not a logo.

2. Have a bio
Twitter allows you to have a short bio. Utilize it to tell about yourself. If you’re a Twitter chat host, use the hashtag in your bio. Avoid using too many hashtags in the bio and add only the relevant tags.

3. Short username
No one would want to read usernames like @IAmTheOwnerOfABCompany or @TheGuyWithGreatLooks. Get an appropriate username and keep it short. Remember the 140 character limit — the bigger the username, the more characters it will consume.

4. Tweet less than 140
Make it easy for others to retweet or add their thoughts. Whenever possible, keep your tweet short. It will be great if you can express your thoughts in about 120 characters.

5. DM only if necessary
Direct Messaging is one of the most misused features of Twitter. Numerous users have faced DM spam with some brands doing auto-broadcasting of messages. STOP! —  if you are doing it, DM only when you want to send a private message to an individual.

6. High volume warning
If you’re someone who participates in Twitter chats or is doing live tweeting during an event, make it known to your followers. Not everyone would like to see their timeline filled with messages from only one person. Just send out a high volume warning, and let the followers decide what to follow.

7. Use # tags appropriately
Hashtags are the most powerful element of Twitter. It is Twitter’s way of adding a subject to your tweet. It helps to keep your tweet focused. So choose your subject wisely. Do not use too many hashtags in your tweet, it’ll confuse the readers.

8. Engage — Twitter is not a monologue
Like all social platforms, you can use Twitter to broadcast messages. But well, that is not “social.” The ability to socialize lies in the power to engage. No one likes to talk to a wall. Make every possible effort to engage with your followers.

9. Share/promote others
Share and retweet only what is necessary for your brand. Promoting someone or a brand is very essential, it helps to contribute in sharing information. People will remember you for that.

10. Respond to others in a timely manner
It’s very important to respond any queries in a timely manner. Conversation and engagement will happen if you respond ASAP. It will be a great opportunity to engage with your followers.

11. Mind your manners, be gentle
Ranting and cursing is not going to help you on any social platforms and Twitter is no different. Stay away from humiliating anyone.

12. Thank often


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About Netiquette IQ

My book, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email" and the Kindle version are now available on Amazon. Please visit my author profile at




Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wikiperdia definition of Netiquette

Here is an "official" definition of Netiquette
Posted by Paul Babicki



Contraction of Internet etiquette, the etiquette guidelines for posting messages to online services, and particularly Internet newsgroups. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions (i.e., avoiding flames), but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. For example, netiquette advises users to use simple formats because complex formatting may not appear correctly for all readers. In most cases, netiquette is enforced by fellow users who will vociferously object if you break a rule of netiquette.


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About Netiquette IQ

My book, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email" and the Kindle version are now available on Amazon. Please visit my author profile at



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

When to send emails - Some surprising results!

Posted by:

The following article offers some great advice regarding times to send marketing email. However, these statistics have some significant value in terms of other email as well such as business, employment or even social. Some of the premise here is due to people being so busy during the day. Anyone who looks at traditional times and finds they are not getting responses should consider trying other times.

AdWeek Infographic based on Experian study

The Surprisingly Best Times to Send Your Email Marketing Campaigns
By VerticalResponse, Published November 26, 2013
Long-standing advice amongst email marketers when asked, “When is the best time to send email?” has always been, “Tuesday through Thursday morning, between 8 and 10am.” Sure, it’s common knowledge that people tend to open their email in the morning, but “the times, they are a-changin’,” as Bob Dylan would say. Let’s visit some current email marketing trends that are creating shifts in open rates, and how they’ll impact your next email send.
A 2012 Experian email marketing benchmark study across all industries found that recipients are surprisingly active late at night. Unique open rates averaged 21.7% from 8pm to 11:59pm and 17.6% for 12am to 4am. Moreover, this late night group was more likely to click through, with open rates of 4.2% and 3.2%, respectively. These night owls also had the highest click through rates for all times of day. Revenue per email was also the highest in the 8pm to 11:59pm group.
As for which day of the week performed best, emails sent on Mondays had the highest ROI, but emails sent on Friday had a higher click through rate. Ironically, Saturday and Sunday had the lowest volume rates, but the highest open and click through rates in the study. So even though the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened were much more likely to engage with it and click through or purchase.
Based on these findings, you might want to experiment with sending your emails at unconventional times – such as 11pm or 6pm and on the weekend– to see if it yields better results.
Weekend Warriors
Fewer promotional emails are sent on the weekends. This has created an opportunity for some businesses to scoop up some email love when there is less competition.
Experian’s email marketing study found that recipients responded more to promotional emails they received on the weekends – when the send volume was the lowest. The unique open rate for Saturday and Sunday was 17.8% for both days, the highest percentages of the week.

Email data from Harland Clarke also supported this finding in their recent study. Although 26.9% of emails were sent on Wednesdays, recipients viewed only 15.6% of those emails, whereas Saturday (a day when only 5.5% of emails were sent), they viewed 32.5%.
Before you change all your email launches to Saturday and Sunday, we recommend you test it first. (Remember that open rates on these days are still lower.) Try splitting your list in half and send the same email to group A on Sunday then group B on Monday or Tuesday. Repeat this a few times to see where you get better results.
Mobile Matters

A recent study by Litmus found that 48% of all emails are viewed on a mobile device, and this percentage is on the rise. Because mobile click through rates are lower, you want to be sure the ultimate message you’re sending is right there in the email, and that your links are very easy to spot and click (no matter what time of day you’re sending).
Harland Clarke’s study also found that the email open rates depended on the device the recipient is using. They found that tablet users, for example, were more like to open emails outside of business hours (from 5pm to 8am), while desktop users were more likely to open during business hours. Tablet users were the most active from 8 to 9pm, while desktop users and smartphone users were most active between 3 and 4pm.
So consider your audience in your email marketing. Try sending a split test to half of your list in the morning during work hours and the other half at 7 or 8pm and note any differences.

Timing Isn’t Everything
If you’re noticing a dip in your open rates, maybe other factors are contributing to the decline. Here are some additional email marketing tips to help with your open and click through rates:
1. Test your email to make sure it’s rendering properly in multiple browsers and email service providers (Email on Acid offers an easy way to do this if you want to save some time.)
2. Review your email list. How old is it? Are there emails that should be removed? How can you grow your email list effectively? Here are some tips for good organic email list growth: 10 Steps to Build Your Email List the Right Way
3. Are you effectively rocking your subject line? The subject line is your one brief opportunity to get someone to open your email. Be sure you know the best practices when creating this magic line. Check out these helpful tips on creating your subject line.
4. Frequency. Are you sending too often? Be sure to play it cool and segment your lists so you aren’t bombarding your recipients with unwanted email (or, dare we say spam!)


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About Netiquette IQ

My book, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email" and the Kindle version are now available on Amazon. Please visit my author profile at




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Great information on email bounces

All of us have mail that bounce. Some of these are directly caused by lack of Netiquette. Nothing is worse than to have this happen at an inopportune time, such as a time-sensitive situation or with a resume, proposal or important document attached. Listed below are some of the causes. For space considerations, detailed explanations will not be given here. Other future blogs will discuss detail, error codes and resolutions. Here are some of the items all should note:
Wrongly addressed email
Changed email address
Large attachments
Host unknown, domain look-up failure
Mailbox unavailable
Mailbox full, or quota exceeded
Altered return addresses
Temporary errors
Unable to relay
Blacklist filters
Content filters
Sales/marketing terms
Unknown attachments
ActiveX content
Recipient servers are down or busy
Your email attributes and formats are not correct
References to explicit or illicit terms
It is important to note that there are "soft" bounces. These are when the sent to domain has accepted the sender's message and a final delivery does not transpire. This can often be rectified by the recipient's internal actions or by resending at a later time.
By contrast, a "hard bounce is more serious, meaning the email has been rejected and sender is to blame. 

Also there are temporary errors when the receiving server will adjust or retry internal delivery. Often these conditions are repaired without having to resend a message.

If simple Netiquette is applied in sending emails, the sender's rate of bounces almost always decrease. Obviously, poor use of Netiquette will result in more bounces both for the short-term and the long-term.


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About Netiquette IQ

My book, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email" and the Kindle version are now available on Amazon. Please visit my author profile at



    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Using email as a sales tool for jobs, prospects

    Posted by Paul Babicki from an article by Patrick Murphy


    The Internet, e-mail and other online technologies have changed the sales environment and the sales process. One of the biggest changes to today’s working world is the email. It has altered the sales process; moving it away from a handful of face-to-face meetings to a more complex series of e-mails, phone calls and voice mails. Today’s sales environment involves more back-and-forth communication between the salesperson and prospect, and less face-to-face time.  To make e-mail work for you in sales, you need to leverage it to speed up the sales process and facilitate more in-person meetings.

    Using Your E-mail as a Sales Tool

    E-mail can start the process of building a relationship with a prospect but don’t bombard potential clients with introductory e-mails, follow-up e-mails and e-mails asking if they received your earlier e-mails. This routine can turn you into that “crazy person who keeps e-mailing me.” As you build a relationship, make sure that any information you share with prospects is easy for them to agree with and helps them do their job.

    Your E-mail offers more opportunities to connect with prospects, but it may also generate false promise. Some people mistakenly think that writing a clever e-mail will magically produce sales. However, that approach focuses on taking orders, when, in reality, you should focus on moving each sales relationship up to the next step.
    Remember E-mails can launch the sales process, but it seldom succeeds in completing it. E-mail is a necessary tool that supports, but does not replace, other tools in the sales process. Spend time on crafting your e-mails wisely. And here are some tips/ideas to keep in mind when writing your emails:
    1. “People respond in kind” – And you should look to control the flow.  Put it out for a handshake, and what happens? Most likely, the other person responds in kind. You can control the flow of conversation by what you write or say.
    2. “All responses can be anticipated” – Experienced salespeople have an answer for every possible question or rejection.
    3. “People communicate through stories” – When a client shares a story, it may indicate that your relationship is moving in the right direction. Stories help people connect.

    How To Get Your Email Right

    • Choose a heading that gets you noticed – Use a reference’s name in the subject heading.
    • Get to the point – Keep the message brief, two or three sentences.
    • Use the person’s name in the body of the message” – That signals that your message isn’t part of a mass mailing.
    • Emphasize commonality – Mention something you share, like the same college or a mutual acquaintance.
    • Don’t try to sell – Focus on a time and date to meet/talk instead.
    • Don’t hound the person – Sending one e-mail a week is plenty.
    • Don’t try to turn an appointment into a prolonged pre-meeting correspondence – Follow up an appointment confirmation with a simple short message and a thank you.

    And What to Avoid in Your Email

    • Don’t write an informal message that uses phrases like, “Can u mt @ 2p on Wed?” You certainly don’t want a CEO or decision maker to see typos or truncated words.
    • Misspell a prospect’s name, title or company.
    • Attach files to an e-mail message to someone you don’t know.
    • Attach the wrong file or omit the attachment you’ve promised in the e-mail.
    • USE ALL CAPS, which is seen as shouting.
    • Use bad words or tell inappropriate jokes, especially ethnic jokes.
    • Write a one-word e-mail. This bespeaks laziness more than respect for someone’s time.
    • Write a tirade or an angry message.
    • Mention religion, or make any sexist or racist statements. These don’t belong in an e-mail message, period, not even as a joke.
    • Write a long message without breaking it up in paragraphs or using bullet points.
    • Use inappropriate subject lines to get through sp@m filt3rs.
    • Using “reply all” or “cc’ing” everyone without careful thought.
    About Netiquette IQ

    My book, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email" has gone on sale at the CreateSpace estore:

     As a Netiquette IQ blog reader, you can use the discount code KBQALZA7. This discount is only through the estore. Thank you for your support on the blog and with the book. The book and Kindle version are now available on Amazon. Please visit my author profile at

     The Kindle version of my book is available the following:



      Sunday, November 24, 2013

      Don't scare people away with your email (it's bad Netiquette)


      Property of Millennial Branding
      Building up a sizable email list takes a lot of work, and late nights. For all your trouble, you want to continually grow your list, or at the very least, keep good numbers. However, if you take a closer look, you’ll always notice a few drops now and then.
      On the flip side, your direct actions may be causing the drop in email numbers. As a wise business person, you want to avoid this at all costs. The following are some of the things you should do to avoid driving away email subscribers. Consider them keenly, and apply changes accordingly.

      1. Provide relevant content

      Does your email content provide relevant information? Stay away from the self-promotional material. Focus on information that is engaging, helpful, and adds value to the customer experience. That way, a subscriber is more likely to read through and follow-up on the message given.

      2. Frequency

      After relevance, the frequency of your emails plays a big role in how susceptible you are to opt-outs. There’s isn’t a general rule of thumb when it comes to frequency of sending out emails, but once you start emailing people twice a day, every day of the week, you are asking for trouble. Many times, your frequency will depend on the type and quality of information you are sending out. As such, focus on providing great content, even if you email your list once a month.

      3. Email “readability”

      Your email content has to be information that is easily readable, regardless of the medium used to access it. First, appearances are everything and if your email doesn’t appeal to the eye of the reader, it will be deleted even before they get to see who sent it. This is something to consider as a lot of audiences rely on mobile devices to view emails. Make sure your design team comes up with content that reads as well on a tablet as it would on a desktop. Keep the unnecessary clutter and ads away, and you’re sure to keep that list happy.

      4. Lengthy emails

      Just as off-putting as a poorly designed email is, a lengthy one is just as quickly discarded. Few people have the time to pore over paragraphs of material in the few minutes they have to scan their inbox.

      Keep things short and concise. Clearly state the purpose of the email, elaborate on how the offer/product/service helps them, then give them a reason to act on the message. Quick and simple, it shouldn’t take more than half a page to communicate your message and sign off.

      5. Clear communication

      Your subject line has to connect to what the rest of the email conveys. If the subject line says “Best tips to writing resumes,” but the email offers tips on how to prepare for interviews, then there’s clearly a disconnect between what you promised the readers, and what you actually serve up to them.

      6. Feigning familiarity

      Feigning familiarity with the old-age personal greeting “Hi Susan” may work well if you know the person personally, but won’t be taken well by a new subscriber who doesn’t know anything about the business. Rather than go for the personal approach, focus on providing relevant content.


      About Netiquette IQ

      My book, "Netiquette IQ - A Comprehensive Guide to Improve, Enhance and Add Power to Your Email" has gone on sale at the CreateSpace estore:

       As a Netiquette IQ blog reader, you can use the discount code KBQALZA7. This discount is only through the estore. Thank you for your support on the blog and with the book. The book and Kindle version are now available on Amazon. Please visit my author profile at

      Also here:

      More good news!

      The Kindle version of my book is now available! Go to the following site to purchase it: