Sunday, October 06, 2019

Signature Abuse

Have you noticed that email signature "files" are exploding?

Authors have long used the space below their name for self-promotion. In addition to a tag line and urls for websites, there may be banners, .gifs, cover art,  lists of current releases, quotes, awards, and quotes.  Estate agent, and lawyers, and CPAs do it, too.

Some email providers limit the number of lines that can be auto-added to every outgoing email. Some online forums try to limit the size of sig files.

There is an etiquette.

There are also risks.
This week, an alien eml file caused me first embarrassment and then consternation. I politely requested some business information that I had not received. It could have been a royalty statement (it wasn't). Someone who could have been my agent (but wasn't), sent me an email with 4 attachments. Two were unnamed small-KB attachments that I ignored, and two were labeled MB files, obviously containing the info which I had not previously received.

I replied to thank the man who forwarded his copy of the info, and noticed in the email stream of my reply two sig files from a stranger named Wanda that seemed to suggest that she had sent me these files the same day, and that I had in fact replied to her email providing the info I wanted  with my claim that I had not received that info.

Those small-KB attachments turn out to have been eml files. They did not just "populate" the email sent by Wanda to my male correspondent. They also populated his fwd, and they populated my reply to the man although I did not include any attachments.

In times when emails are considered legal documents, proof of contracts, or of credibility or of incriminating contact with persons one swears one has never met or corresponded with, the ability of other peoples' eml files to infiltrate your clean stream is problematic.

Lesson learned. Always read through your email stream

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 



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