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Don't Use BCC

Ethical issues in IT.
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Don't Use BCC

Postby Emtucifor on Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:26 pm

I personally recommend against using BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) when sending email. Instead, send the email to only the primary/copied recipients, then forward the sent email to the additional desired "blind" recipients.

Here's why:

  1. If the person you send the blind copy to is not careful, and forwards the email, it can become known to the initial recipients or other undesired parties that you blind-copied the email, and they could be bothered by this revelation. It is much better to be able to say "oh, I hadn't included <name> and I wanted him to know about this so I forwarded it" (which is in fact the truth though not full disclosure) rather than needing to explain why you didn't want the initial recipients to know about the blind recipients.
  2. You can put comments in the forward that you can't put in the original. If you DO need the person to be very careful about not forwarding the email, then here's where you put in large red letters "DO NOT FORWARD THIS EMAIL" or something similar.
  3. You can wait a few hours or a day before you forward the email. This gives you more time to possibly gain perspective and decide whether you really need to send that email (for example) to your boss or if you will try to continue handling it yourself. I'm not saying that informing your boss is inherently bad; I am saying that sending things to your boss that you could/should handle yourself can at best lose some temporary political power or at worst get you labeled as a whiner/complainer/weak.

Also, if the material is sensitive, consider not forwarding the email at all. Instead, discuss it in person. Bring a printed copy of the email if you want. This way you don't leave a written record of your actions, which depending on the situation could be vital (I'm considering an email archive as a written record and in fact worse than a piece of paper). This also completely eliminates any danger of a sensitive email being erroneously forwarded. You can even retain and destroy the printout when you leave the conversation, further ensuring the issue is held only in people's memory and cannot be accidentally revealed to anyone.

I write this not because I got burned in any way, but because I have been growing in my understanding of political realities, and thought I'd share these recent thoughts of mine in case they benefit anyone. I'd also love to get feedback or hear additional workplace political wisdom that could help me, too.
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Re: Don't Use BCC

Postby traingamer on Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:55 pm

I agree with you in most cases.

I will, on very rare occasions, blind copy my boss on a particular email response when I feel it appropriate that he has a copy of it and the rest of the recipients don't need to know that. He is usually perceptive enough to not reply to all. I don't think I've ever used it for any other reason.

I've also seen bcc used to send bulk email to a group of people, where it is obvious that the information is somewhat sensitive and you have no idea who else has received it. I've also seen it used to keep a mailing list from being harvested. (I've never used it for either of these ).

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