If you've ever looked at my "please read this before sending me an email" page and actually read all the way to the bottom, then you have already read the content of this post. I decided to take it off that page and put it here since I think a personal blog post is a much more appropriate place for it.
And now...The Gripes!
I have received so much email over the years that I've developed quite a list of pet peeves about it. If you don't do any of these things, you greatly increase your chance of getting a prompt response from me (vacation, work, life, etc. notwithstanding).
Please don't send questions like: "Can you please tell me everything about Elizabeth I?" or "Send me stuff about Henry VIII".
Note that I am mentioning people here that there are literally thousands, of books written about. And probably just as many websites! I tend to view messages like this as laziness on the part of the sender. Asking about more obscure people from the period, or a specific question about someone or something are far more likely to get answered.
Unfortunately, English is the only language that I am fluent in,
... so anything sent in a foreign language will probably end up in my junk mail folder (since the majority of email that I've received in other languages is spam anyway...). Don't feel bad about sending mail in broken English if you only have a partial understanding of it. Just mention that in the message and I'll understand completely! English isn't an easy language and I have great respect for anyone who didn't grow up speaking it who decides to learn it.
I read ALL the legitimate (i.e. not spam or virus) email that comes to me,
... so putting PLEASE READ in the subject or message isn't necessary. In fact, it's just likely to annoy me. Same goes for PLEASE RESPOND, or REPLY ASAP!!!! I try to get back to everyone in a timely manner. Extra capital letters or exclamation points aren't going to get you an answer any quicker.
Correct spelling and punctuation will help me understand your message.
I've gotten some so poorly written (and I don't mean by non-native English speakers) that I honestly can't decipher what the person is saying. Also, writing emails in all capital letters is usually considered "shouting" in email.
If you are going to add me to your email address book, please use anti-virus software.
During some of the virus outbreaks of 2004, I've received literally dozens of virus or worm emails a day. Thankfully I'm on a Mac and I don't open unknown attachments (since it's only a matter of time before Macs are virus/worm targets again), so my machine won't actually be affected, but it's still really annoying to get all those emails. And on the flip side, if you receive an email that apparently came from my address with a virus attached, I can promise you that it didn't. One of the tricks of these viruses is to "spoof" the address that the email appears to be coming from, which makes it harder to track down the infected machine and fix it.
Please spell my name right.
Yes, I know that's kind of silly to get bothered by, but it's annoying to have an email address with my name right there spelled L-A-R-A and then continually get emails addressed to "Laura". Hey, it's not my fault my mother loved the movie Dr. Zhivago!
So please don't address email to "Sir" or "Mr. Eakins". Also, "Dr." or "Professor" isn't correct either, but is a lot more flattering.
I don't have the time or energy to get involved in flame wars.
If you want to cuss me out, tell me my opinions or the website, etc. are rubbish, that's fine, but you won't get a response. And I really have to wonder about people who would put stuff in an email that they probably wouldn't have the guts to say to a person's face.