Monday 11 December 2006

The Naija Bruises of Reply All

Object to the subject

Never has an objective assessment of a situation garnered outrageous subjectivity than when I have had the fortune of expressing an opinion amongst fellow Nigerians.

It would appear the issues of basic netiquette are beyond the comprehension of seemingly knowledgeable people, I wanted out faster than a bullet leaves a gun.

I had written about the use of the Reply All button in a forum where I have had the unfortunate circumstance to find reluctant membership, in which I also offered possible alternatives to accommodate that type of content.

The forum coordinator had announced that a few new persons had joined the community, that was fine by me, but before the cock could crow the first time, 10 emails had arrived in my mailbox, people echoing the welcome greetings to everyone rather than the just the particular new entrants.

True African SPAM

I must have missed something in my upbringing, as I learnt later on; it is in the true African tradition to receive unsolicited email which in the West would be called SPAM.

It was impossible to keep the focus on that issue, by the time I knew it; I was mired in sycophantic acquiescence, dribbled over with the spittle of contrived disappointment and dispossessed of my Nigerian heritage because I dared to challenge an unacceptable convention.

Then, someone said I was bringing Nigeria into disrepute, I had to read over all that I had written, between and over the lines and could find nothing to corroborate that inspired waffle.

Informed consent is a cardinal principle

The issue still is; I was co-opted into that forum because someone just assumed I would want to participate in the forum without seeking my consent; one comment read that as a goodwill gesture.

Where have these people been? Organisations cannot just co-opt you without an opt-in which includes informed consent even if their surveys indicate you might be interested in their products – that principle applies regardless of if it is a village forum or a sophisticated gentlemen’s club.

Read my script upside-down

In the end, I asked for my name to be expunged from their records and mailing lists – for which I received a few brick-bats, I did not say for once that my mother-tongue is in fact English – there is a possibility that what I was conveying in language – tone, context and syntax – was lost in translation - my foible - I say what I mean.

Anytime you are tempted to Reply All, just think about what is actionable about your email and if it is relevant to that audience.

I would talk of this no more, one is utterly miffed and certainly not amused.

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