If you want me to read your email ...


… please read this.

I really like email. It is one of the few federated communication systems that is used by most internet users.

However, there are two kinds of problems with email recently. First, structurally: email has been almost centralized by the biggest advertisement company, spam is still a huge problem, and running an email server on your own is quite tedious. Second, and the topic of this post: individual emails are often full of nonsense that should not be there. Additionally, people seem to be getting lazier and lazier before hitting the send button.

Here comes a wish list how I like my email, sorted by the amount of effort I ask from you.


Just use plain text for your email. I care about its content, not whether you want me to read it in olive Comic Sans on a beige background. Moreover, HTML emails are a security disaster.

Correct spelling.

Use a spellchecker and ensure that you write names correctly. I will also make an effort to spell your name correctly in my reply. If you really find something hard to spell or type, copy-paste it. But note that HTML formatting might make it obvious that you copied something from somewhere else — another reason not to use it.

No advertisements.

I don’t care which typewriter, smartphone, tablet, mail client, operating system, anti-virus software or coffee brand you use. Hence you do not have to finish your email with a signature advertising it. Often these signatures are added automatically, so you might not even know that you are sending around advertisements. Moreover, such signatures are sometimes a sign that your anti-virus is doing a man-in-the-middle attack against you.

Don’t spy on me.

An email should be self-contained and not “call home” each time I open it. When my email program tells me it had to block remote content, I will no longer read your email with an open mind. Also, please just forget about the “receipt confirmation” feature. If you should know that I read your email, I will tell you.

This goes together with the previous comment, because automatic crapware signatures tend to include remote content. Why should your anti-virus company get a notification each time I read your email?

Use a decent provider.

The saying “If you are not paying, you are the product” is very true for email. Where are your emails stored and what is the business model of the company storing them? Should I be careful what I write because it will be used to optimize advertisements manipulate you?

Depending on the context in which you are contacting me, please use the right account. Say, if you are a student and your university provides an address for you, please use it: j.kees@university.tld makes a much better impression than kittenlover98@aol.com.


Finally, if you really want me to be happy when I get your email, please use PGP. Mare sure to also sign your email and make your public key available.

Thank you.