Signature bloat on mailing lists has to stop. And so, too, does signature sloth.
Some mailing lists require that every post include the sender’s signature, revealing name, address, serial number and really important stuff; others may only require that information on a subscriber’s debut post. And some don’t care one way or another. That doesn’t mean that the same signature block, which often includes all conceivable contact information as well as a link to the subscriber’s website, blog, AIM name, ICQ#, Yahoo Identity, MSN Identity, alternate cell phone numbers, Skype address, CB radio handle, and favorite slogan necessarily has to appear at the end of every post.
Readers’ eyes glaze over after seeing the same signature block post after post, and before long, all of that information becomes less meaningful than a full e-mail header. Couple that with the obligatory tag lines inserted by the list host, broadcasting that the mailing list is a service of the Wonderful Non-profit Lawyer’s Club, a subsidiary of the For-Profit Lawyer’s Guild, the “how to get off of this list” instruction, and the plug for the sponsoring organization’s annual bake sale and CLE event, and before long, the automatically-inserted material exceeds the hand-crafted content. When a subscriber fails to trim all of the extraneous matter from a reply, even more useless bulk is added to the message. And the carelessly inserted automatic block sometimes appears at the end of the post, mixed in with some previous poster’s signature, rendering it practically useless. Fiber may be a part of a good diet, but mailing lists for busy lawyers can do without the added roughage.
“It’s automatic,” claim the lazy. That’s nonsense. Nearly every modern e-mail program offers up the ability to use multiple signatures. Even though the humble Gmamil offers the option of a single signature or none at all, Lifehacker.com has a method available for those just want to see if it can be done at http://tinyurl.com/yr2evf. (I’m not sure which is more extreme: using Gmail as the primary law office e-mail client or trying to refill a Bic pen.)
Different purposes demand different signatures, and the signature block should be periodically changed, if for no reason other than eye appeal. A short signature block can convey just as much necessary information as one which approaches the length of a Tolstoy novel. Even something as simple as:
LawList subscriber since 1995
will do the job. Just make sure that it appears where it’ll credit and identify the author of the post.