How to email to many people, without hurting them!


Sending to many

Sometimes we may want to send mail to many people at once. We can put many addresses in the "To:" and/or "Cc:" fields, like this:

To: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Cc: [email protected], [email protected], ...

But — Don't do this!

Everyone can see the addresses — this is very damaging to everyone on the recipients list:
* violation of privacy !
* computer viruses !
* spamming !

It is the same as if you sent 100 people to all those people's rooms. Each with knives and guns. I know it doesn't seem that way, but believe me, it is. Just don't do it.
(The Gory Details are here)


Then, how to send to multiple people? Do this way:

All of the below can send email to many people, without showing their addresses to everyone. They are listed from easiest, to more complicated (and more powerful).


The Gory Details!

Here's the damage:

  1. Privacy: People can see and use other's addresses. This violates their privacy.
    Some people only give their main address to people they want to have it. They may have yahoo or gmail addresses that they give to other people.
  2. Annoyance: Often people don't notice there are multiple addresses, and reply thinking they are replying only to you — but many people get the reply.
    In the worst case, one may accidentally send a very private communication to all these other people!
  3. Political damage: There might be people on the list who would rather not be public.
    Maybe they don't want other people to know about their interest in your organisation or whatever the email happens to be about.
  4. Viruses: Now, when any one of the member of this list has a computer virus, that virus, and more, will be sent to EVERY member of the list!
    Because the viruses grab addresses from the person's incoming email.
  5. Spam: Also, with a computer virus, each person will get more spam, because some of these viruses grab addresses from the person's email and send them to spammers.
    I used to get about 10 spams a day. Three months ago, i got several emails from different people with many many addresses in the Cc: lines. My spams rose rapidly, and i now have to clean out over 100 spams a day! (Yes i do have a spam filter ... but any spam filter may put a good email in the spam box. So i have to scan through the headers to check for mail that i might want.)

Don't take my word for it! There are a lot of web pages about it, with more useful information:


Is there ever a good time to use that Cc: line?

So now you may be wondering, if it is so damaging, why do the mail programs even provide multiple To: and Cc:?

Because there are good times to use them. Among a close group of people, it is nice for the people to "see" each other, and to know what they are sharing.

Think of it like a meal with your family. When eating out at some big dinner event, you wouldn't pick food off other people's plates. But at home ... sure!


Thanks to ...

I know of course you probably don't know these things or you wouldn't have done it! I didn't always know these things either. I used to do this too! Here's how i learned about it: