Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't send stupid e-mails

There are occasions when questions might be effectively addressed through e-mail messages, but professors may understandably get annoyed if they receive frivolous e-mails or messages that would require a lengthy answer. Here are some examples of clearly inappropriate e-mails that tend to label you as a substandard and/or inconsiderate student:
  • Questions whose answers can be found in the syllabus with a little effort. Inquiries such as "When are your office hours?" or "Where is your office" can be particularly irritating.
  • Questions that would require a lengthy answer--often based on an inquiry that was only a few lines long. Such questions should be asked during office hours.
  • Inquiries about grading. To the extent that you have legitimate questions, office hours are a more suitable venue. Keep in mind that if you inquire "Why did I get such a low grade?" you probably would not find the answer "That is what your paper merited" particularly useful.
  • Stupid questions such as "I received a score of 23% on the midterm and 31% on the class project. Can I still get an A in the course?"
  • Rude, highly inconsiderate, or morally repugnant questions such as "Are we going to cover anything important in class today? I would really rather go shoplifting than sit through another boring class."
Once time, a not particularly bright student e-mailed me asking about the time of the final. I replied "See syllabus!" He replied back "Thank you."

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