“Tis the season” …for annoying auto-responders.
Is it worth it?
Do you really need to reply to everyone while on vacation?
Chances are you don’t and the risks outweigh the benefits. In this blogger’s opinion. Some autoresponders can be set up in a smart way – such as sending the reply “only once.” But based on my experience, this is the exception. Most just flip them on and bolt, leaving everyone else to clean up the mess. If you were the one everyone depended on to protect the nuclear arsenal today, I could understand, but c’mon. Set your away messages on your collaboration tool. Asana, Slack, etc. should all have away messages. That’s enough.
So my opinion is that these are obsolete, unecessary and should not be used, but if you’re thinking of posting one today…some thoughts
- Don’t autoreply to spammers: Your reply says a lot about your email set up. It can be used to increase the value of your email address to Spammers, and feeds the SPAM economy. Furthermore, many autoresponses offer up an alternative person to message. That gives the spammer two email addresses for the cost of one.
- Don’t start loops: This still happens, even in 2019. Some email programs are ridiculously stupid, and will auto-reply to auto-replies. Please make sure yours doesn’t. It just saturates the internet with crap, and makes IT managers have to answer the phone when they should be relaxing with family.
- Don’t reply to mailing lists: If you’re on a listserve, you could be sending your autoreply to lots of grumbling people who have no clue who you are .. you become the “wierdo with the autoreply.”
- If it’s broken, or sends tons of replies, it makes you look like a dweeb: Any autoresponder screwup makes you look like a dweeb. Wouldn’t it be better not to send them at all?
- It makes work for everyone else: Many of us get over 200 emails per day. We have to go through it. And we previously had you marked as an allowed sender. So you’re breaking trust, at least on the email side.
- Telling people about your tropical plans is snobbish. It’s “nice” you’re going to the Bahamas or to Fiji. But please keep it to yourself on your autoreply.
- Thieves and Hackers use autoreplies? Urban Legend? It’s probably unlikely. Keeping your departure and return time ambiguous is a good idea for lots of reasons… LOL. Making note that others may be in the office, but they won’t be checking your email won’t hurt anything. I can find out exactly who you are, where you work, what might be a good time to hack your website, and what brand of toothbrush you use in today’s world, but the chances of thieves using this is probably lower than some warnings make it out to be.
- Voice mail is very different than email and vacation messages are fine there, IMO. If I call you, and I need you, and I wait to HEAR your message, then I asked for it. Details about your absence might help those who REALLY want to reach you, so that’s the place for the info about your fancy trip.
Revised: Nov 2019