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13 Annoying Communications that Must End in 2012

on January 17, 2012

Last year I wrote a list of 16 annoying communications that must end in 2011. It was one of my most popular articles of the year. I guess my readers just love to hear me complain. Given that my crankiness is in demand, I decided to put together a new list of annoying communications for the new year.

Shortening someone’s name right after you’ve been introduced

Almost everyone who has a long first name, for which there are many shortened versions, must deal with this. If someone says their name, call them by that name and no other version. If a person introduces themselves as “Elizabeth” then that’s what you call her. You may want to call her “Liz” but that’s not what she wants. So don’t do it.

What’s far more irritating is when the name shortening happens immediately after an introduction.

“My name is Robert.”

“Hi Rob.”

“Hi Shmuck.”

Not remembering someone’s name right after you’ve been introduced

I’m monstrously guilty of this as I can immediately forget someone’s name the instant they tell it to me. Others who are guilty of this will declare, “I’m so bad at remembering names.” Nice try. Announcing your fallibility is not an excuse. Unless you’re being introduced to the entire choir, be in the moment and remember people’s names. If you need to, use some tricks such as associate that person with someone else you know with the same name. If it’s a name you’ve never heard before, repeat it back to make sure you’re pronouncing it correctly.

Tagging objects as people in Facebook photos

This was funny the first time, but not anymore. Especially now that Facebook puts thumbnails of your five most recent photos at the top of your profile. If you don’t want people thinking you’re a bowl of spaghetti or the hooded assassin in a New Yorker cartoon, you need to untag yourself.

Tagging people in Facebook articles just to get them to read them

I’m more than happy to accept a personal email or a Facebook message, but to tag me in an article on Facebook just to get me to read it is obnoxious. The Facebook wall is an individual’s public expression, and it’s not designed for you to promote your crap. This was a major problem with MySpace as people would post photos of whatever they were selling on their friends’ walls. The site just became a useless marketplace for digital graffiti and we now see what’s happened to that.

Opening a panel discussion by allowing the panelists to first talk about themselves

This irritates me to no end, and it’s an incredibly lazy move by the moderator. If you have four panelists, and you give them five minutes each to talk about their business “just to set the stage” you’ve wasted 20 minutes on information NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR. The audience has a program with speaker bios, let them read it on their own. The moderator should just give a one line introduction to each and then begin the session. Unfortunately, that’s just one way that most panel discussions suck. To make your panel session not suck, download and read my article, “More Schmooze, Less Snooze: How to Deliver ‘The Most Talked About’ Panel Session.”

Asking a blogger, “Can you blog something for me?”

This is thankfully not as bad as it used to be, but I still get these completely inappropriate requests. Blogging is a job. There may not be direct income from it, but it can be used to build an industry brand and create relationships. Making this request is asking, “Can I intrude in on your personal brand? Would you promote something you know little to nothing about? Would you do some work for me for free?”

It’s often a thoughtless request with the hope of just getting free press.

The most egregious case of this I’ve ever received is spelled out in this two-part story, “Hey PR, Bloggers Are Not Tools to Be Used.”

When this type of request is OK is when someone who you do know and have a relationship with asks you to retweet something on Twitter or to “Like” something on Facebook. It’s a sign of support and assuming it doesn’t infringe the brand you’re trying to create, it takes little to zero time to do.

Stringing people along

Whether dating or in business, there’s nothing more annoying and rude than giving someone hope by stringing them along with an “I’m so busy, call me next month” response. I don’t care how important you think you are, no one is truly that busy that they can’t give the person the current status even if they don’t know what the current status is. It could be as simple as “I have no information for you now, and it’s not looking promising, but you’re welcome to follow up in a month if you want.”

This only works if you actually connect with the person on the phone or in person. If you send a lot of emails or leave a lot of phone messages and get no response, take the hint. The recipient is not required to email or call back every person to tell them nothing is happening.

Attaching videos and uncompressed photos to emails

Most of us 45 and under don’t make this mistake. It’s the fault of our parents and grandparents who just learned how to attach a file to an email.

“Did you get the wedding video? I attached it.”

It’s our responsibility to show the older generations how to use YouTube, Kodak Gallery, or any of the hundreds of other video and photo sharing services.

Not understanding what BCC is

With every email we send, we see the To:, CC:, and BCC: fields. After at least 15 years experience writing emails, we should all know the difference. Sadly, at least once a year, we receive an email with 50 people in the CC: field. Inevitably someone will hit “Reply to All” in a response just to the sender. Then someone else will hit “Reply to All” and tell everyone to stop hitting “Reply to All.” What fun.

For more, read “Social Media ‘Gurus’ and Bloggers Are Egotistical Jerks.”

Sharing without consumption

This is the behavior of liking, sharing, or retweeting a piece of content without reading, listening, or watching it. It’s often done as a favor to a friend (e.g., “Would you retweet something for me?”). More often it’s a means to game online popularity to build your own social media profile. We can now see actual results of this as others are putting weight on social reputation services such as Klout and Kred.

These services unfortunately have a major fallibility that awards the content sharer rather than the content creator. For example, if someone tweets this blog post without my Twitter handle (@dspark), and then they’re retweeted, then their Klout score is increased, but mine isn’t. Therefore, the “klout” goes to the person who shared the content, not the person who created it. This happens all the time.

Hiring companies that are looking for employees with audiences are now using these services as benchmarks. One friend applied for a job which required him to have a Klout score of at least 30.

For an egregious case of sharing without consumption read “Here’s What’s Wrong With Social Media: Sharing Without Consumption” and for more supporting data read my Mashable article “Why Sharing Online Content Might Be Too Easy.”

Cross posting all tweets to Facebook

Does anyone enjoy this? Thankfully Facebook doesn’t reward this lazy type of posting. Most of these reposted tweets will not show up in your newsfeed. People who turn the Twitter app on in Facebook just end up clogging their profile page. In the end, it only reflects poorly on the user.

Wishing “Happy Birthday” on Facebook

I know I’m going to get a lot of heat for this, but in all the years people have said the phrase, “It’s the least I could do,” this truly is, outside of doing nothing at all, “The least you can do.” Nothing says, “I barely care,” then to type “Happy Birthday” on someone’s profile page.

If you do truly want to wish someone “Happy Birthday” then do something else, anything else other than just typing “Happy Birthday.” It’s great that Facebook reminds us when people have birthdays. Use that as a chance to reconnect with the person with a positive message about them or your relationship with them. Or, better yet, send a personal video message through Facebook. For more, read “I Just Sent 555 Personalized Video Holiday Greeting Cards-How I Did It.”

Please, just do anything else, write anything else, beyond just “Happy Birthday.”

Facebook pages that require you to hit the “Like” button just to see the content on the page

This is really obnoxious, and it’s a method of gatekeeping content. The fan page is requiring me to make a commitment before I can see the content. This goes hand-in-hand with having a splash screen with a giant arrow that says, “Click our ‘Like’ button.”

It’s not the best way to treat and talk to your audience.

“We want to capture you so we can send more ad messages to you. Problem is we also believe you’re an idiot, so we have to tell you what icon to click.”

Now it’s your turn to complain

There’s got to be more things that annoy you. What have I missed?


Creative Commons photo credit to Dan Taylor, JAXPORT, and Adam Tinworth.  

Stock photos of angry guy, confused person, and name tag from Shutterstock.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob January 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

Will people EVER stop forwarding hoax emails, usually to everyone they know? It’s so easy to use or other urban legend websites to identify those things as spurious. Then again, it’s easier, I guess, to forward falsehoods to your entire address book than it is to think.

kadeeirene January 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I really like your “Sharing Without Consumption” advice – it’s a major downfall to Twitter unfortunately and the reason for so much spam. Don’t just post to post – have something to add. I also think Klout scores are a joke and just one more meaningless metric for companies to get hung up on. I understand the importance of influence but like you address, know what you’re sharing. If companies choose to look at an employee or not based on their Klout score, is that not the same as sharing without consumption? There’s more to look at in one’s feed and other online properties than a number. Just because you share and talk to people a lot, doesn’t mean it’s all of value. 

Great post, thanks for sharing. 

David Spark January 17, 2012 at 8:28 pm

The sharing without consumption problem is rampant. And some of us are guilty of it as we share content for friends as a favor. But when you go out of control sharing just to build your brand, people’s BS meters start going off. But some don’t and they fall for it.

Judiehp January 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I am so tired of people reposting signs and quotes.  I go on Facebook to see what my friends are up to now, not to read some inspirational sign that’s really not inspiring.  And please, don’t ask me to repost your post that you copied from some other place! Surely you have a molecule of creativity in your brain – use it.

Chris DeFran January 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I really could do without ANY email with a subject line that starts with “FW:”. Good day.

PaulinaBee January 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm

What a great list.  Somehow the crankiness of it cheered me up

Melanie January 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm

YES! I particularly loved the one about “Happy
Birthday” Facebook wishes. I agree that it’s nice to know when someone’s
birthday is coming up, but I also think your true friends should already know
that. However, I recently had a birthday and, not to sound ungrateful, but it
was so overwhelming to consider replying to every one who had wished me a
generic “happy birthday!” If they were trying to make me feel special and
remembered on my birthday, even a text message would’ve been more personal than
covering my wall with well wishes.

Zac Macinnes January 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Yes and yes. I wish people would stop leaving me unnecessary voicemails. “Hey, Zac, this is Martha. Call me back!”

Dionne N. Walker January 25, 2012 at 6:30 am

What would our old spinster aunts and worrisome mothers do if they couldn’t tell us about the scam to rob and rape women in WalMart parking lots???

Mmkozaus January 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Forwarding hoax emails is pointless…and companies that partner with other companies in order to get access to their database, then give them all the same email to send so you end up receiving multiple copies of exactly the same email from different sources. How many copies of some free ebook do they think I need? I know it’s not 14 – at last count – and that’s only in 2 days. I’m sure there’s still more tp come…

Peter January 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Especially now that Facebook puts thumbnails of your five most recent
photos at the top of your profile. If you don’t want people thinking
you’re a bowl of spaghetti or the hooded assassin in a New Yorker
cartoon, you need to untag yourself.

Lana Vaughan February 1, 2012 at 9:31 am

Posting a great article title in the RE: line and then listing it as the 3rd article in the email! 

David Spark February 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm

 Was actually the fourth article. It was the headliner! The first three were warm up acts.

adriarichards April 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm

This was good but I LOVED your 2011 list better!  Hope you’re settling into your new home!

(Can that count annoying when commenters reference something not part of the post and overly personal?  lol!)

Kat_r64 July 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Facebook: How about when people post constantly about themselves and their life but dont communicate or give anyone the time of day. So self centered i say!

Alvin Góngora November 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I’m confused with your “Attaching videos” complaint. I’m one of those dinosaurs you just kick in their balls with contempt, however I haven’t known in all these years any other way to send videos and photos than by doing just what you describe as the revealed truth on Mt Sinai. So, no new information coming from you. Annoying as all the habits you listed can be, I haven’t seen anyone on my circle doing them, other than the one about stealing somebody else’s clout and Klout. But that’s is not due to age related ignorance; it’s just human nature.

David Spark December 1, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Alvin, you’re right. I should have offered up some solutions. Here are two easy ones that are free to low cost (depending on how much you use). Use YouSendIt, SugarSync, or Dropbox to send very large files instead of attaching a large image or video to an email.

Jennifer Jarratt December 4, 2012 at 11:58 am

In the intervening months since you wrote about “old spinster aunts,” I hope you’ve tripped over at least one hole in the sidewalk. I’m an OSA myself and I’ve NEVER forwarded a hoax email.

David Spark December 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

 Hmmm…don’t know exactly what you’re referring to.

Lucy November 6, 2018 at 11:25 am

Expecting every member of your family to be on facebook and when they aren’t, it is as though we no longer exist. I will not get a facebook account, but I still have e-mail and a phone that can face time, receive texts and (and heaven forbid) an actual phone call! To me, posting to facebook has become a one stop shopping place to talk to family…don’t forget the family who do not want nor will ever get facebook. I call, text and face time grandkids…hey family the door swings both ways!

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