Whenever Annie Wallick shoots off an e-mail, it goes hurtling into cyberspace with a little tagalong — an electronic signature that...
Whenever Annie Wallick shoots off an e-mail, it goes hurtling into cyberspace with a little tagalong — an electronic signature that admonishes the recipient, “Don’t DREAM it, BE it!”
For Wallick, a 24-year-old aspiring actress, the line is her way of rousting people off the couch and urging them to strive, rather than just saying “I wish I could do this, I wish I could do that.”
Pithy quotes in e-mail signatures — known to the hip as “sigs” — can seem as ubiquitous in cyberspace as spam. To many recipients, they’re about as welcome, too. Critics condemn them as presumptuous, condescending and inappropriate for the workplace.
Jim Orsi began noticing the e-mail signatures during the Web’s adolescent years. Finding them obnoxious, he launched a Web site and now curates “The Gallery of Annoying Email Signatures.”
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“They’re inappropriate personalizations injected in places where it’s not needed,” Orsi said. “I also just think people are not as clever as they think they are.” He’s bothered, too, by people who “assume a level of familiarity that isn’t there.”
The sigs that ignite his true ire? The ones that come with images, such as a favorite dog, that slows his e-mail to a crawl.
Orsi and other haters should relax, Wallick said.
“It’s just an ender for an e-mail. I think if somebody’s going to be upset it’s kind of pointless,” said Wallick, of Minneapolis.
Aaron Dragushan, founder of Coolsig.com, a repository for clever e-mail signatures, agreed.
“Quotes are a place within the business world … where you can have fun a little bit,” he said.
Dragushan, a 32-year-old Canadian transplanted to Honolulu, started his site in 1995 by gleaning quotes from books and other Web sites. Over time, his site’s users started adding their own favorites. The offerings range from the political to the odd to the saccharine: “Whoever said you can’t buy happiness forgot about puppies,” attributed to outdoors writer Gene Hill.
Before the dot-com bust in the late ’90s, the site had about 250,000 subscribers who regularly received 10 new “Coolsigs.” Since then, it has evolved into a simple storehouse of sage sayings that generates a bit of ad revenue.
Orsi says he thinks the use of quotes in signatures for work e-mail has declined, possibly due to crackdowns from human resources departments. He says lately he’s noticed more quotes on Web bulletin boards and social networking sites.
Dave Yewman, a presentation coach from Vancouver, Wash., makes his living telling businesspeople how to make a good impression, and he thinks e-mail signatures can be a good tool.
“I think it’s an advantage to people who use it well,” Yewman said.
His advice: Choose a quote that’s personally important and sums up what you do best.
OK. This reporter will give it a try:
“Thanks to my solid academic training, today I can write hundreds of words on virtually any topic without possessing a shred of information, which is how I got a good job in journalism.” (Dave Barry)