A few days ago, I received an unsolicited group email from an acquaintance (again) that displayed all several dozen recipients’ addresses in the header’s “TO” field (again). I’d asked to be removed from distribution previously, so this time I tried a different approach, pointing out the advantages of placing group email addresses in the “BCC” field … contact information kept confidential, exposure to email-borne viruses reduced, etc.

To which I received this disappointing reply:

Understand your concerns, legitimate I’m sure, but unique to the thousands of folks I correspond with.  No argument there is risk in electronic comms. Yes, respond to “all” is an annoyance. Alternatively, public distribution to a group of designees is quite useful in engaging the group in conversation (hard to share feedback when you don’t know who is participating). My experience is that sending to an open group is quite useful, and the benefits outweigh the risks.

Unique to thousands? Really? Thousands of correspondents knowingly consented to as-seen-fit distribution of their contact information? The force is strong with this one. And excuse me, but doesn’t “benefits outweigh the risks,” translate as “my benefits outweigh their risks”? Mightn’t group conversations be better conducted as comments appended to a blog post? Or within the framework of a legitimate discussion forum? Or on Facebook? Or Twitter? Specious excuse, thy name is expedience.

So let me state again for the record that if I give you my contact information, no matter who you are, I expect you to ask my permission before sharing it with others, be it one other, ten others, or the purportedly indifferent multitude. And I promise to return the favor. As a matter of … what’s that thing called again? … oh, yes … simple courtesy.

And quixotic delusion.

(On the other hand, I’m sure you’ll understand if I tape photocopies of the business card you gave me above every truck stop urinal from here to Sacramento. Because you never asked me not to.)

For a more detailed discussion of this topic, please see last year’s “Netiquette lesson“.