Junk e-mail or spam is ubiquitous. Most of my incoming e-mail falls into this category. But I was reminded of the ways of handling this when dealing with some outgoing e-mail issues recently.
I don’t send out any bulk e-mail at all. The largest e-mail list we send to is when my wife sends one of her devotionals out to quite a number of friends. But the number there is tiny compared to most bulk e-mail.
Here’s the problem, and e-mail users can help with it. If you’re on an e-mail site, such as Google, or if you’re using certain e-mail software, you may have the option to mark e-mail as Junk or spam. Some people, I’ve found, don’t know the difference between these options, especially “Junk” vs “Trash.”
Trash is for discarding an e-mail after you’ve read it or if you don’t need a copy any more for any reason. You click on the trash, it goes to a trash folder, and eventually you discard it. Lots of good e-mail goes in the trash. But it does so after it has been read or scanned. This is for e-mail that you no longer need. You might well want to receive e-mail from this person later.
Junk, on the other hand, is for e-mail that you didn’t want in the first place. When you click on either the junk or the spam button you are often also notifying reporting agencies that you thought this e-mail was unwanted. So if you get an e-mail from your grandmother, read it, and then decide that you don’t need Granny’s note any more, so you click “Junk,” sure enough the e-mail will go away, but Granny now has a black mark against her. (Note that precisely what happens depends on how your software handles the e-mail.)
It’s not that likely to make trouble for Granny if she’s using one of the major services. But where it becomes more problematic is if you are getting solicited commercial e-mail from companies you do business with. For example, I want to get e-mails from Publix Supermarkets. They let me know about new products and sales. I normally spend about 20 seconds or so with each e-mail, however, and then delete it. Only a small number are relevant to me. But just because there’s no coupon or special offer in the e-mail in front of me doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear about the next one. So the correct response is to hit delete or trash, not junk or spam.
Is that perfectly clear?