Thursday, November 03, 2005

writing emails...

Sorry, not that anyone has been reading my blogs...

For a while, I was getting really depressed/agitated when I read this other blog, but I finally realized there wasn't anything I could do to correct the misinformed idiots, so I lurked and read it as a source of entertainment... I do like scifi!

So what should I talk about today? How to write an email letter...

I recently got an email (names and other identifiers removed)

We would like to use one of the ... Observatory telescopes to make observations, drawings, and photographs of

We would use what we obtain with this telescope to enhance the public programs that we conduct for the .....

And, of course, we would give full credit to the ... Observatory for providing access and use of its fine telescope and facilities for this purpose.

Unfortunately, your astronomy open houses are not appropriate for us to do this, as they are too few, too crowded, and end before Mars transits.

So we were wondering if you, your staff, and/or students, are using the observatory on other dates and times more amenable for Mars? If so, then could we accompany you?

Alternatively, are you willing to schedule time for us on one of your telescopes when they are not being used? We are even willing to be scheduled between Mars transit and dawn, should that be the only time when it is available.

We would ultimately like to use one of your fine instruments on at least a few nights around Mars opposition with clear enough transparency and good enough seeing.

You may confirm who we are, and the legitimacy of our request, by checking with our .... point-of-contact ....

We are already familiar with the ... Observatory telescopes, their observatory building, and surrounding grounds. So we would need only a minimum of initial instruction as to their proper utilization and are.

We are sending this same request to both your office and personal e-mail addresses in case you are out of your office today.
My first thought was, who are these people? I didn't learn their names until the signature at the end. And they would like to use the telescopes? Well I would like to win a million dollars! "... the legitimacy of our request..." How is a request legitimate??

I showed the email to an office mate and we decided that maybe the writer was a student intern at the institution. Turns out, that's not the case. After writing back with some comments, one of which was, Who are you? I got a lengthy response... and the answer to my main question...

As far as who we are, since 1988, one or more of us have been working with the ... Planetarium as volunteers developing and participating in public programs that attempt to inspire, inform, and hopefully educate the public on matters astronomical.
-- One or more of us?? What you don't know what you do??
-- Really? Then how come I never met you when I worked there for 2 years??

Heck, even the various african spam emails do a better job of introducing themselves than this crew!!

So, if you are writing an email to a stranger asking for a favor, it is best to
-- address them with their proper name/title, not their first name!
-- introduce yourself(s)
-- explain your project/dilemma
-- explain why you are asking for their help
-- don't insult their programs

I'll end it here...