I am conTENT. My work is CONtent.

Email Disclaimers Can Make Signatures Silly

Posted by contentgrrl on July 10, 2008

Many emails in the business-to-business world discuss how to solve a business problem, information that could be dangerous in the hands of a competitor. So I’ve been a stickler for the confidential & proprietary disclaimer:

This electronic transmission contains information that may be confidential or proprietary. If you are not the intended recipient, be aware that any disclosure, copying, distribution or use of the contents hereof is strictly prohibited. If you have received this transmission in error, please notify [email address here].

The “email address here” for my employer is an email alias for an admin assistant. When the former admin left, we had trouble defining exactly what should happen if the new admin got any notifications to that address. It looks like we never actually got any such notifications. I suppose we could send it to our legal advisors, but hopefully they wouldn’t find a way to punish the whistleblower.

In my employer’s exercise of rebranding, we’re instituting a common look for our email signatures. I was looking for a disclaimer much shorter and simpler (better not be too sweet about it).

What I found was this:

The Goldmark article discusses why they’re stupid, gives a list of the most stupid disclaimers, along with some silly ones. My favorite:

Your eyes are weary from staring at the CRT. You feel sleepy. Notice how restful it is to watch the cursor blink. Close your eyes. The opinions stated above are yours. You cannot imagine why you ever felt otherwise.

The Goldmark article also makes a suggestion…

Email from people at does not usually represent official policy of Your-Organization-Here. See URL-Of-Policy-Document-Here for details.

… with the caveat that perhaps it’s so weak it’s not worth having at all, but at least it doesn’t make silly unsupportable claims.

I like the reference to the policy online, because the legal counselors can say whatever they need, and it’s just the one page.

Let’s try something even simpler:

This message may be subject to nondisclosure, copyright and privacy policy (URL here).

What do you think? Better than having a signature that’s so long it overwhelms a simple response of “OK.”

One Response to “Email Disclaimers Can Make Signatures Silly”

  1. […] bookmarks tagged legal Email Confidentiality Disclaimers Can Make Signatu… saved by 3 others     tehamandar bookmarked on 07/10/08 | […]

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