Contacting your Professors (Email Requirements)

Hi all,

First,  emails with improper subject lines will not be accepted department wide.  We (students and faculty) struggle with this every semester as it is unlikely that anyone has introduced you to proper information design in your previous studies.  I realize that this may be construed as me just being a stickler but consider if every one of your music files had the same filename and title and you had to open up (i.e. play) the song to figure out what it was.  Of course operating systems (OS) do not permit this namespace ambiguity but email systems do.  To provide an example and put this in context, consider when I send out an email that “Lecture Module 1 is open”. Students invariably reply to this email with questions about whether there is a final, a term paper, time frames, textbooks, etc. all with the same original subject albeit prefixed with a re:  (e.g. Re: Lecture Module 1 is open).  Now consider me having to look through upwards of 300 emails a week (i.e. opening up each email) to find the real information as the 300 identical subject lines read – Re: Lecture Module 1 is open. Now imagine me trying to find something in my archives 2 weeks, 2 months or even 2 years in the past as is the case with letters of recommendation.

Now I’m just a Prof but what if this were your boss.  Is your boss going to promote the employee that makes their life easy or difficult?

Ok, so everyone probably now understands the problem and as IT and information professionals, we solve IT problems rather than create them.  To this extent, you now understand why it is necessary to provide a proper subject line that includes your name, course and section number and the subject of the email.  Emails that do not follow this convention will not be accepted or even answered so if you do not get a response, please check your email.


Email Subject Information:

Subject should include Course Subject Number and Section, Lastname and Question/Subject.

Example: CISS 100 300, Looby, LL3 assistance needed

*Your section number can be found in the upper left quadrant of your Blackboard display


Email Body:

Now the introduction above covers the Subject with respect to information design, next the body and the signature.  Your emails should retain any previous email threads (i.e. correspondence for context), be free from spelling errors and you should not use “text message shorthand”.  In today’s business world emails are often your first impression.  Consider the eventuality of when you are a manager and you outsource some software or cloud development.  If several companies or individuals provide quotes for contract services, what is the likelihood they give the job to someone who commits spelling errors or communicates imprecisely?  To this extent, please turn on your spell checkers or compose with word processing software and copy this information to the email.


Email Signature:

Lastly, please create a signature that minimally contains your full name although in business it should also contain your title, address, phone and email.  In the past I also included  my Skype and Facetime address however more than anything I now use Google+ for the all in one functionality so I have largely discontinued my use of Skype and Facetime.


Now also note their is teaching value here.  Think about the email conventions I established above.  While not critical business information, I can now search John Doe and retrieve your email.  I can also search for Quiz 3 as maybe a large number of results indicates there is an error in Quiz 3 that needs to be identified and resolved.  This is analytics and now consider this within a marketing or management framework (i.e. alot of email complaints about a product, service or person) and you suddenly see the need for information design and the ability to retrieve and mine email information.  Note this is just the tip of the “Big Data” iceberg but you now see the need for us to design not only systems but processes that will facilitate analytics and continuous improvement (CI).

Thank you for you understanding,

Prof Looby


One Response to Contacting your Professors (Email Requirements)

  1. l-schulz says:

    Look forward to learning from you!

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