Too Much Information (TMI)

Too Much Information (TMI)

Are you guilty of putting Too Much Information (TMI) online? Probably, right? If you’re a human who has been online more than about 15 minutes, you probably are a little guilty of the occasional TMI moment.

Putting too much information online has been a time-honored tradition since the early days of the Internet. The Usenet groups and BBS systems of the good old days of the web were a boiling mass of TMI, and the blogs and social networks of today are no different. From stories about being dooced to YouTube videos about drunk people getting caught by others acting, well, like drunk people act… the Internet gives us many examples of what not to do. But people still keep giving the rest of us too much information.

Samples of TMI include:

  • Work:

    It’s not a good idea to talk trash about your boss, much less putting it online for the world to see. Avoid this TMI no-no and avoid waiting in line for your unemployment check.

  • Home:

    The last thing you want is for your spouse to know that you do, in fact, think that she looks fat in that dress. This TMI tip keeps you out of the dog house.

  • Friends:

    What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, and a TMI slip up getting back home just might force you to find a new best friend. Or maybe a new place to live.

  • Family:

    Venting online about people like your neighbor or your your Mother-In-Law on Facebook may seem like a good idea. Unless you forget that they follow you on Facebook, or that someone they’re close with follows you. Do that and you could have some awkward conversations in your near future.

  • Strangers:

    A potentially dangerous example of TMI is anything that tells people where you live or when you’re going somewhere on a trip. You may as well put a welcome sign out for crooks.

  • Personal:

    Possibly the worst kind of TMI, nobody wants to know about what happened in your bathroom or in your bedroom. Just don’t do it.

Keeping the aforementioned in your head and not on your blog or Facebook page will do wonders to keep your family, friends, and co-workers from being exposed to too much information.

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10 Online Safety Tips for Kids and Families.

10 Online Safety Tips for Kids and Families.

You don’t need us to tell you how important online safety for your family is, especially if you have kids still living at home. Local and national news sources help illustrate this point almost every day with stories about online scams, Internet perverts, and worse. But today we’re going to help you prevent any more of those stories by giving out some basic online safety tips for you and your family.

With the proper guidance, you can help make sure that you’ve done everything you can to help your kids surf safely on the Internet. Take a look at the list we’ve compiled below and see if there’s anything here you haven’t tried yet.

  1. Always sit with younger children when they’re online. Keep a few bookmarks that they can easily access to get to kid-friendly web sites.

  2. Help your kids create fun online nicknames that don’t give away personal information.

  3. Keep any computers that are connected to the Internet in an open area where your children can be easily supervised.

  4. Ensure that your kids aren’t sharing personally-identifiable and/or sensitive information with people they meet online. Examples of info to keep private include:

    • his/her real name,

    • the physical address of their home,

    • whether or not their parents, guardians, or other responsible adult are home,

    • any phone number (home or cell), or

    • passwords.

  5. Let them know that it’s not OK to use the Internet to gossip, cyberbully, or threaten anyone online, even if they mean it as a joke.

  6. Let your children know that it’s OK to tell you if something (or someone) on the Internet makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.

  7. Make sure they know it’s never OK to meet an online friend without parental permission.

  8. Set clear rules for appropriate Internet use. Things you should consider are the types of web sites that are off limits, specific Internet hours, and what (if any) information can be shared online.

  9. Talk to your children about what web sites they visit and who they’re chatting with.

  10. Talk with your kids about computers and be open to their questions.

The online safety tips we’ve listed above are a good starting point for any family with children who are old enough to use computers, but they are by no means an exhaustive list. Monitor how much your kids use the Internet, see what’s working and what isn’t, and stay involved.

If you think we’ve missed anything, or if you have a story about how your family talks about online safety, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

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7 Tips for Better Email Etiquette.

7 Tips for Better Email Etiquette.

In today’s world, email is as much a part of our lives as any other tool, and knowing the proper etiquette to use when writing an email can be the difference between looking like a professional or looking like a fool. Today we’ll go over some basic email etiquette that’s generally considered to be the norm.

Every form of communication has some general guidelines, and email is no different. Whether you’re drafting professional correspondence or writing an email to your family across the country about your kid’s latest school play, following these simple rules when emailing will keep those who read your email engaged and interested.

  1. What’s the subject?

    In your excitement to get your message out there, don’t forget to add a subject line to your email. Without it the reader is hard-pressed to tell the difference between your email and run-of-the-mill spam. Short, but descriptive text regarding the heart of your email will give those on the To: list more incentive to open it and read it as soon as possible instead of missing it completely or marking it as spam.

  2. Who’s your audience?

    Your email should be properly addressed to the correct person or people. Make sure that the email addresses you use are correct, current, and valid. Without a valid email address your message could get into the wrong hands, and depending on the sensitivity of the email, could make you look foolish at best, or compromise your data at worst.

  3. Don’t SHOUT it out!

    The use of CAPITAL, or upper-case, letters should be kept to a minimum, just like any online messaging medium. (Including online forums, blog posts, IMs, text messaging, etc.) Proper Internet and email etiquette dictates that you may use all caps, but only in moderation, and generally only for emphasis. You don’t want to start out like Oprah did her first day on Twitter. Turn off your caps lock key before you start typing.

  4. Keep geek-speak to a minimum.

    Using too many slang words, Internet acronyms, or overly “techy” terms (“URL” vs. “website”, “ping” vs. “[Internet] response time”, etc.) can damper the effectiveness of your communications, especially of the recipient of your email doesn’t know or understand their meaning. Keeping everything in layman’s terms casts a broader net of comprehension and will get your point across much better.

  5. Brevity is the soul of wit.

    Nobody wants a digital version of “War and Peace” in their inbox, so keep emails short and to the point. Not only will you get your message out there faster (because it won’t take as long to write), but keeping the content distilled to the it’s basic essence will help ensure complete understanding of what you’re trying to get across.

  6. Keep things light.

    Have you ever noticed how anything written online “sounds” different than it might be if said aloud? That’s because without a human voice behind the words, none of the inflections or tonality used in normal speech are present to let the reader know things like humor, sarcasm, or irony. As such, you should always strive to have a light, non-confrontational “voice” in your digital communications. Without it your content may seem more heavy-handed than you intended.

  7. Who are you?

    You may have your email address in the From: of your email, but not leaving a closing “signature” is not only a little rude, it’s a wasted opportunity to thank the reader for reading, and maybe even to add a link to your website or alternate communication method such as a different email, phone number, or office location. We recommend that you close an email just the same way you would a hand-written letter. Additional details or contact information optional.

Keeping these email etiquette tips in mind when writing will not only make your emails look more professional, but they’ll also be sure to keep those who receive them from losing interest in your messages.

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