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Most of us are bystanders

Most of us are bystandersI have often observed how an email request sent to ten people simultaneously will generate few responses but that separate emails sent to ten people individually will result in many more replies.

Pete Abilla's shmula blog had a terrific post over the weekend explaining this phenomenon: "Reply All" and the Bystander Problem. The post provides several startling examples of the bystander effect and provides good advice on how to overcome it:

  1. Address only the relevant people in an email – and not too many people
  2. Address, by name, the person to whom you are requesting advice, help, or approval
  3. Be clear, concise, and make your request explicit — do not leave the recipient guessing
This is terrific advice for anybody needing questions answered via email!

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  1. Tapani Ronni said...
    I typically ignore translation requests that are not addressed to me personally. These are usually sent by people I do not know so I have little motivation to reply, especially if I am busy already.

    Anonymous said...
    I feel I have a personal responsibility to respond when the sender addresses me by name. If someone just sends a request to multiple recipients, I usually disregard it. But I still check the requestor's location and if they have a decent looking web site. Some payment problems are bound to happen, sometimes they are not intended, it is always easier to get paid by a local US or Canadian client than someone from Asia - I like to work for those who know what BBB is.


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