Seth Godin had a great post yesterday about the simple practice of checking before forwarding. The basic gist is that, before you blindly forward things along to your entire mailing list, you owe it to everyone on that list to verify the truth of what you are sending along.
I receive forwarded messages all the time from friends and family members. Some are jokes, some are just cute messages or cartoons. I'm pretty much fine by that, so long as it doesn't get excessive. What really gets me all cranky is when someone forwards along a message which promulgates a particular political, religious, or philosophical viewpoint. Often I don't actually share these viewpoints and equally as often, the messages upon which they are based turn out to be false.
Here are a couple of rules that I think would help clarify the email atmosphere:
- As Seth suggested, before you forward a message, go to the Snopes site and verify its veracity. Even if you think you can't find it there, check anyway, especially if the story is supposed to be true.
- Always add a personal note as to why I might find this worth reading/viewing. Even if it's only that you found it cute or funny. I appreciate that you want to share, but I want to know your feelings about the message at hand.
- Construct the recipient list for each individual message and as you do so, at least pause for a moment as you add each recipient and ask yourself the question "Would they really appreciate seeing this?" If you don't know for sure, then I would err on the side of not sending it.
- Understand that if you don't follow these rules, and if the falsehood is egregious enough, I will have no compunction about responding to the entire group about what the real story is. After all, I looked it up on Snopes. At the minimum, I will at least respond to you and leave it to your discretion to reveal your gullibility to your original victims.
So, have you checked out the Snopes site? What did you look up?