Think Before You Click

Yesterday, some computer users faced a barrage of e-mail triggered by a message fired off by mistake. The Casey Journalism Center at the University of Maryland at College Park sent the e-mail to a national contact list instead of the 11 board members for whom it was intended, followed by an apology and a plea to ignore the first message.

And that was followed by dozens . . . and dozens of e-mails from people wondering why they got the note, and then why they got all these messages from people wondering why they got all those other messages.

The apologetic center blamed a database error. But it appeared that what the center called "puzzled recipients" increased the annoyance factor by replying to the message instead of ignoring it.

We all see it -- the acquaintances who CC: everyone on every e-mail, the colleagues addicted to "reply to all." But it's unnecessary, said Nancy Flynn, an Ohio consultant and author who has written several books on tech etiquette. "Mail to a group list only when it's appropriate for everyone on the list, and do not reply to a message unless you have something to contribute," she said.

In other words: Think before you hit that send button.

-- Maryann Haggerty