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On Email Signatures

Chuq posts an interesting "look-back-but-walk-forward" type of post here in regards to the "rule" that signatures should be no longer than four lines long:

I personally stopped paying attention to the 4 line limit over a decade ago, because I felt it was no longer relevant. I still think people need to be thoughtful about signatures -- but the four line limit was arbitrary and based on an earlier day with much smaller average message size and very slow phone links.

My own signature file(s) (the fact that I call them files "dates" me somewhat, doesn't it?) have been a source of amusement and some effort over the years. Currently, my signature file looks like this:

     Kindest regards,
     Erik J. Barzeski
I don't need time. What I need is a deadline.
- Duke Ellington
AIM: iacas    BLOG:    GOLF:

I use the "Internet Standard" (very loosely) "-- " (dash dash space) to separate my sig file from the rest of my message (smart email clients chop off anything following dash-dash-space when replying), including a standard "Kindest regards," or some such nicety with my name. I include a quote that I find amusing, thought-provoking, or otherwise interesting (and rarely offensive). I include my email address and my AIM name along with the few sites with which I'm involved.

My signatures are not rich text or HTML. They include only a bunch of #### for formatting purposes, and include no pretty pictures or marketing messages - beyond the URLs, anyway. They include no crap like this:

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. The content and opinions contained in this email are not necessarily those of Something Important International. If you have received this email in error please contact the sender.

Since when has any of those things - and I've seen longer - ever actually accomplished anything but annoying people? I've often attempted to condense my sig file into as small a number of lines as possible. I believe that you're just annoying people with an overly "big" sig. Hopefully I've found a balance. If not, well, I shouldn't worry about it too much. So, with an eye to the past, and my feet facing forward.

Man that's corny.

2 Responses to "On Email Signatures"

  1. One of my pet peeves are the signatures declaring that the email is virus free. The body of an email message is not the appropriate place for this message. The correct location for a message like this would be an X header. Perhaps something like "X-Virus-Checked-By: McRestuarant v. 45.10". Though, it's not like the message actually carries any weight behind it in either location (just that the latter annoys me less)...

    It'd be quite funny to see Outlook viruses that start putting these virus free disclaimers at the bottom of emails. heh heh

  2. Having a discrete signature on geek lists is just as relevant today.

    This page was a top hit when I searched to give some advice to a person that wrote "I've been using mailing lists for 5+ years and never heard anything about there being a specific format".

    I was giving him advice because his signature was 8 lines long and advertised three products. I explained that:
    * Geeks like things more structured, so that they can automatically
    process or hide information like signatures.
    * Volunteer communities don't like being advertised to
    when someone is asking for help, or even like each other advertising
    at them. Geeks appreciate discretion.