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Emoticons in the Workplace

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the don't-smile-at-me dept.

The Internet 258

Platonic writes "According to the New York Times, the Emoticon has become much more than something the kids do after school. The little guys seem to have found their way into the workforce: being used by stock brokers and even the U.S. Military. From TFA: 'I mean, it's ludicrous," said Ms. Feldman, 25. "I'm not going to feel better about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because someone puts a frown face to regretfully inform me.'"

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Shocking! (5, Funny)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043643)

:-O

Re:Shocking! (0, Redundant)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043655)

D:

Re:Shocking! (-1, Redundant)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043711)

^_^ > ;-)

Re:Shocking! (0, Redundant)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043865)

O_o

Re:Shocking! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20043975)

@_@

HAHA I HAVE YOU ALL UNDER MY CONTROL NOW! (4, Funny)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044157)

(.Y.)

damnit /. This font doesn't do it right.

Re:HAHA I HAVE YOU ALL UNDER MY CONTROL NOW! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044239)

(>^_(>O.o)>

Re:Shocking! (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044175)

_____________________m_o.o_m______________________ __

Re:Shocking! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043837)

Yeah, shocking. My boss, who holds a PhD in finance, and rags on me about my spelling regularly uses lol, brb, and the like. I got an e-mail the other day from an insurance company that contained two :).
Being of the first generation to grow up with chat rooms, IM and SMS, I find it entertaning that I don't use :) and people older than I do.

Wierd

Re:Shocking! (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044073)

lol i think you meant 'weird'
=)
kbye

Re:Shocking! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Monkey (795756) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044173)

As I said, my boss rags on me about my spelling ;)

Re:Shocking! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044603)

As I said, my boss rags on me about my spelling ;)
Eww, your boss rags on you? That's SICK!

Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (4, Insightful)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043701)

While there are places emoticons clearly do not belong, such as in formal business documents, there are also quite reasonable places to consider using them, such as informal communications between people engaged in business. Smiling, at its most basic form, is a signal that something is not a danger, and acts as a tool for bonding. This has intrinsic value for business, and it's why people also sometimes smile while conducting business in person. Why not extend this capability to less formal electronic communication for business as well since the tool already exists?

Ms. Feldman needs to STFU and GBTW. (2, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043765)

It's not always about YOU! It's not supposed to 'make you feel better' you addled-brained twat, it's supposed to clarify the state of mind of the sender! Would you have preferred that the sender put a big ol' grin in there? :D That said, I use emoticons for team communication, but not for formal documents. A yes/no email regarding a potential deal doesn't sound like a formal document to me.

So? (2, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044139)

It's not always about YOU! It's not supposed to 'make you feel better' you addled-brained twat, it's supposed to clarify the state of mind of the sender! Would you have preferred that the sender put a big ol' grin in there? :D

Even with the ":D", your words above can be taken as insulting. I don't know about you, but I've been insulted to my face while the insulter had this nice smile on their face.

Re:Ms. Feldman needs to STFU and GBTW. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044149)

Can someone please finish the following sentence?

Emoticons are for ________

Re:Ms. Feldman needs to STFU and GBTW. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044287)

Idiots.

Re:Ms. Feldman needs to STFU and GBTW. (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044409)

people who can't express their emotion using language?

Wait, are emoticons language?

Re:Ms. Feldman needs to STFU and GBTW. (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044411)

perky people.

(I hate perky people.)

Re:Ms. Feldman needs to STFU and GBTW. (4, Funny)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044591)

it's supposed to clarify the state of mind of the sender!

( o )_( o ) ... opps, Freudian slip.

'I mean, it's ludicrous," said Ms. Feldman, 25. "I'm not going to feel better about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because someone puts a frown face to regretfully inform me.'"

A future copy of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, that slipped through a worm-hole, had this to say about Ms. Feldman...

Ms. Feldman at age 26, sued a former employee for sexual harassments due to lewd child-like graphical images, know at that time as "Emoticons". When a said former co-worker sent her an email with what he said was an arrow pointing at an important piece of information.

Claiming that was clearly a penis and not an arrow and that such combinations of characters show the posters state of mind, she did not much appreciate the overt suggestions thought that $10 millions dollars should make her feel much better.

Since then, all business replaced standard keyboards with interface boards that had specific words and generic phrases on them that only allowed a user to write back using those specific works, avoiding any further use of "emoticons" in the work place.

Coincidently, work productivity grew more than 500% as people stopped using Email at work.

Re:Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043825)

Smiling, at its most basic form, is a signal that something is not a danger, and acts as a tool for bonding.

I don't know about bonding, but I've found myself using emoticons on Slashdot more and more often. The problem I found was that too many people were reading an ultra-serious-- or even accusatory! --tone into posts that were intended to be light-hearted and friendly. Sprinkling the post with :-), :-P, or :-/ here and there can help get the correct tone across, even if it looks kind of lame. :-/

Of course, there will always be those who either miss the purpose of the emoticons or willfully ignore their purpose in communicating tone, but I have found that it clears up the majority of misunderstandings before they occur.

Re:Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (2, Interesting)

ggKimmieGal (982958) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044273)

I agree with using emoticons on Slashdot. Sometimes people will read your comment too quickly, and get all huffy about something in it. However, 90% of the time, the tone that they got was not the one you intended to communicate. Even if you clearly communicate through words what your intent/tone is, sometimes people just don't get it because they read what they want to read. Faces and facial expressions are something we understand from the time we are born. So, like you said, they clearly communicate the tone of the comment.

Re:Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044447)

I don't like your tone.. are you trying to say that I read comments too quickly, and get all huffy? How could you be so mean? *cries*

Re:Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044375)

I do get the utility of the emoticons, but they irk me when they are either a cop-out that the lazy people use to avoid sharpening their writing, or a way to soften the tone of the communication by people who are too afraid of offending someone.

Re:Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (3, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044583)

a cop-out that the lazy people use to avoid sharpening their writing

"Proper" writing often requires a great deal more of proof-reading and rewrites than most people are willing to put into a quick post to a forum or an email to a friend. Thus emoticons are less of a "cop out" and more of a useful shortcut in communicating.

a way to soften the tone of the communication by people who are too afraid of offending someone

Why should I want to offend someone who I'm trying to have a pleasant conversation with? Part of intelligent discourse is to address sensitive issues. If you don't keep your tone soft, you may run into a hard wall when emotional investments in the topic are brought to light.

Take Chernobyl as an example. Discussing the actual number of deaths is an emotionally charged issue. Simply stating that the actual death count was vastly exaggerated by the media and that only a few dozen people died will get you a response to the effect of "you heartless bastard!" before you can even get to the issue of the thousands of victims who had to be treated for thyroid cancer. "Softing" one's speech to the point of clinical analysis combined with with a "warm" understanding of other's feelings can help you get farther in a discussion of the issue than immediately offending them, unintentionally or otherwise.

While some don't see the point of such emotionally-charged discourse, I've found that there are often solid reasons at the heart of such emotion. These reasons can often help in shaping a clear, balanced opinion rather than immediately taking sides.

Re:Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044393)

What you post on Slashdot doesn't answer the issue of "Emoticons in the Workplace".

On second thought, I guess it does. :)

Re:Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (2, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044499)

Same experience here.

Often enough, half the skill in delivering a good joke is in the visual clues one gives (especially when you're being ironic) and in the written medium (especially short articles) without emoticons, all those visual clues are lost.

For example, it's one thing to say:

- Slackware is clearly the easiest, most user friendly Linux distro.

and another to say

- Slackware is clearly the easiest, most user friendly Linux distro ;^D

Re:Emotions are not mutually exclusive from work (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044371)

Hello, I am writing to you on behalf of my master Price Robert II of Bolivia :)

We seem to have undergone a slight mishap :( We have approximately 2 billion US dollars ( :D ) in our Swiss bank account, of which we are prepared to give you half if you assist us. Our chaffeur recently died of an allergic reaction to prawns, we have no money left to get the taxi to the bank from our hotel, and we can't be arsed walking -.-

Could you please send us $500 via PayPal to this address, to cover the cost of the taxi and maybe a short visit to a stripclub ( (.Y.) ;) ) on the way? We will then print out the PayPal monies using our PayPal Industrial Monies Printer \o/

Thankyou for any assistance you can provide *hug* We promise that we will get the money wired to you as soon as we reach the bank, you can trust us ^____________^

The world is not yet ready! ;[ (5, Insightful)

HitekHobo (1132869) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043715)

I can only speak for myself, but I always get the feeling that I'm dealing with the lowest possible tier of CSR when I start getting emoticons or excessive punctuation in my communications.

Re:The world is not yet ready! ;[ (3, Funny)

pbhj (607776) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043911)

omgponies roflmao

#;o)>

Re:The world is not yet ready! ;[ (4, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044225)

Business to customer, never use emoticons, avoid cultural references and slang (i.e. "hit it out of the park").
Inter-team communications within company, light to no use of emoticons, some slang (if teams in same country)
Intra-team, emoticons, abbrv, AFK, BRB, etc. slang. vastly more acceptable.

That'd be the rules where I work and they seem to work quite well.
-nB

Re:The world is not yet ready! ;[ (1)

Doctor Crumb (737936) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044345)

Whenever I am replying to an idiotic user request and I'm worried that my sarcasm levels might set off some alarms, I add a smiley. It keeps the user off-guard, and allows me to get away with being a bastard. Example:

We've successfully restored the 20Gigs of files that you accidentally deleted. Feel free to let me know if it happens again! :)


You may want to re-read some of those communications without the smileys, and see if they take on a more ominous tone.

Meh. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043719)

The gist of the article seems to be, "This is the way it is now, so it's acceptable." I don't really agree.

It's an informal style, so sure, where informality is allowed, sure, why not? If you feel comfortable dropping your boss a joke email, then there is no reason you shouldn't throw in a random emoticon in routine correspondence, but I would seriously recommend against using the "unhappy face" to deliver any sort of bad news, or adding in random emoticons on anything resembling official correspondence, or anything that might get passed on up the line.

It's just not professional.

Re:Meh. (2, Insightful)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044033)

Agreed . . . mostly. Informal written communication doesn't carry inflection, tone of voice or body language. More formal writing can get around these with tasteful word choice, punctuation and structure, and lends itself to being interpreted in a more professional sounding tone. For intra-office instant messengers, smilies are hard to avoid using. People tend to IM very short questions, declaratory statements, etc--it's not appropriate (and won't be read any way) to send a book so they get your full meaning.

I'm also a bit of a smartass, so sprinkling in a few smilies can mean the difference between a laugh and them taking offense . . .

Re:Meh. (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044063)

I think sarcasm is by far the best reason to use an emoticon. Without one, you have to hope the person on the other end has a sufficiently refined sarcasm detector and won't get offended...Not something you want to count on in a work environment.

Re:Meh. (3, Insightful)

billdar (595311) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044205)

True. But, in a business environment, what you can get away with at the water cooler probably shouldn't be documented with a paper or digital trail....

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044053)

Meany.

:(

Re:Meh. (4, Funny)

tb()ne (625102) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044437)

But with bad news, it would help convey a sense of understanding or empathy. For example:

Mr. Johnson,

Your employment here at MegaCorp is terminated, effective immediately :-(

Director,
Human Resources

Re:Meh. (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044507)

You're fired :-(

Kids are doing emoticons after school!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20043749)

We need a war on emoticons! And the parents have to stop leaving these latchkey children unattented.

Multiple studies have shown that use of emoticons is a gateway to hard punctuation.

Re:Kids are doing emoticons after school!!!!!! (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044005)


Yes!!! I've been using emoticons for years! :) Since about 1994, actually, when they looked a little different. ;-)!! And now I'm hooked on bangs!!!!1! (exclamation marks to you ordinary folks!)

!!!!1!1.

Re:Kids are doing emoticons after school!!!!!! (0)

Echolima (1130147) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044527)

1 != !

Legal again (1)

apt142 (574425) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043757)

But, I just became legal again to use the frowny: http://www.despair.com/acompromise.html [despair.com]

Re:Legal again (1, Funny)

notnAP (846325) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043883)

:-(

The story you cite is from 2001.


Evidence the story is seriously dated can be found in the byline, as well as in this snippet: The firestorm of controversy even led to an entire newsthread discussing the lawsuit on the highly respected tech-news site Slashdot,...

Very true. (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043779)

This display of unprofessionalism is most upsetting. As a result, I've sent out a memo to the office banning the use of emoticons in work-related matters. It's written in Comic Sans MS.

Re:Very true. (1)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043841)

I've noticed unprofessionalism to some extent using our corporate IM (SameTime). I have managers that are remote from where I am and they are high paid, and more than double my age and they do things like 'lol' and 'l8er!!' I just found it to be awkward like I was talking to my little sister.

Re:Very true. (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044041)

We use sametime as well, and when I've been asking some of our team leaders to do something I've been given gems such as "2day or 2mrw" for instance. This plague must be eradicated at all costs.

Re:Very true. (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044123)

u r fird lol :-)

+5 Insightful (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043931)

I once had one of my (less astute) bosses come to me and ask me about email styling. Specifically, he wanted to know if the guy was YELLING at him in the email. The problem? The email was written in 18pt, Dark Brown, Comic Sans font. Obviously the (fairly important) guy used it as his standard email style. Of course, the more amusing part was that this boss "joked" that I had too much time on my hands because I knew Comic Sans on sight...

Though I have to say that the only thing more annoying than seeing Comic Sans in an email is seeing one of those hideous background templates. No, I don't want to see your email decked out in roses. No, I don't want to read your email in blue text on black background. No, I don't want your 4pt font that matches your "professional" faded background. Black on white, 10-12pt font works fine, thankyouverymuch.

---Email Luddite (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044031)

I hate all styling past the very most basic, and have all my email clients set up to display text only, no pictures, etc.

Anything else is just making my life more difficult...The whole point of email in the first place is quick, simple communication. If you need more than that, pick up the damn phone, or do a face-to-face.

Re:---Email Luddite (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044163)

The whole point of email in the first place is quick, simple communication.

While I agree with your sentiment, I can't agree with your analysis. Email is often used for longer communications where styling is required. For example, I may need to send information about several database tables. Lining up the text/description or data works best with a rich-text table. Especially when there's not quite enough information to attach a Word or Excel document instead. Similarly, a picture is worth 1000 words. When I get a bug report, all the really important details are usually left out. But if they send me a screenshot I can usually tell exactly where they are, what they're doing, and exactly how to replicate it. Being able to match the text with the embedded screenshot is all that much more powerful. (Especially if there are a series of screenshots.)

So these things do have their uses. Besides, I'm just happy that executives stopped sending me one line messages as attached Word documents. That always *ahem* made my day. :-P

Re:+5 Insightful (1)

syrinx (106469) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044075)

This is why I convert all incoming emails into plain text. Outlook (which I have to use at work) has this option and also makes it very easy to un-convert it if there's formatting that you need to see for some reason.

Reintegrating RL Cues (5, Insightful)

andrewd18 (989408) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043787)

Quite frankly, a large majority of what we understand in face-to-face conversation comes from body language. A smaller section are the vocal cues and intonations we pick up on. The smallest part of what we understand in a conversation is the actual words. Since e-mail is only words, and completely lacks the body language/intonation cues we're used to in real life, can you really blame someone for trying to add some of those cues back in?

Apparently yes. I, for one, welcome our "naïve tweens on AOL Instant Messenger finding out after-school soccer practice is canceled" overlords.

Re:Reintegrating RL Cues (3, Informative)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043951)

This is true, as far as it goes, but when we're engaging in face to face conversation, we don't tend to hugely overstate our expressions in order to convey our feelings. An emoticon is a one-note emotional ejaculation (yea haha, I said...nevermind), and doesn't really convey anything except that you don't really mean what you're saying the way it sounds.

In an informal context, sure, a few emoticons are acceptable. In a formal situation, you need to take the time to make sure your writing accurately conveys your opinions and feelings, even if you have to spell it out more than you would in person.

The only times I really feel the need to use a smiley is when I'm being sarcastic or ironic, and that has no place in formal communication anyway.

Re:Reintegrating RL Cues (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044351)

In an informal context, sure, a few emoticons are acceptable. In a formal situation, you need to take the time to make sure your writing accurately conveys your opinions and feelings, even if you have to spell it out more than you would in person.

I think it's safe to say emoticons are more useful in a context where you are communicating with someone where you have not established any other previous relationship, i.e. someone you may not have met before or may know only from exchanging emails. Without the other channels of information to draw on, it would be better to include them to establish your style of conversation/writing. I don't tend to use them myself, mainly because I generally only communicate directly with people I know and who know me, so they are able to interpret what I say in context.

Re:Reintegrating RL Cues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044145)

And quite frankly, good writing needs no body language. Talking face to face is the easiest form of communication to misunderstand. The printed word is the least likely to be misunderstood, assumming that the person doing the writing and its recipient are both literate. Now, if you're communicating with your billion dollar restaraunt chain's fry cooks, you might want face to face communication, and it's STILL likely you will be misunderstood (or ignored).

But for an example, consider the phrase "a fool and his money are soon partied." Try say that in spoken language without "partied" being misunderstood as "parted".

Or listen to song lyrics. The Beatles, for example:

Let's all get up and dance to a song.
That was a hippie four, your mother was bourn.
Though she was born a long long time ago
Your mother should, no?
Look at the trouble Dee Snyder [wikipedia.org] had writing a song about surgery, titled "Under the blade". Tipper Gore and her PMRC thought it was a bout sadomasichism! But if you actually read the printed lyrics it's obvious that Snyder was singing about surgery and the Beatles weren't singing about the "hippie four".

Writing only needs emoticons when it's BAD writing. If you have to explain that something's a joke, it's a BAD joke.

-mcgrew

Re:Reintegrating RL Cues (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044341)

The problem is, emoticons are gradually being stripped of their information carrying capacity, or specialized to the point of becoming shorthand dialects. :) and :( may be intrinsically understandable, but more and more I see things like :P used as punctuation. Once upon a time, it was a clearly negative expression. Now, it just makes the person on the other end look like an idiot.

I won't even get into things like :S or :|a -- though in cases like those and even less understandable ones, I'd wager that their use is less for simulating body language and more like slang, intended to exclude the uninformed rather than add depth to a statement.

"I'm not going to feel better ..." (1)

harmonica (29841) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043789)

Of course she's not going to feel better, but I guess smileys have become part of the culture, which is already very superficial. There's a lot of smiling and compliments and smalltalk going on, and that's probably a good thing, to a degree. A certain "buffering zone" between what someone wants and thinks and what they'll tell the world keeps everything more civilized. It won't make a difference when losing 100Ks of dollars, but in the long run, I prefer some "syntactic sugar" in my communication. Of course, if there's too much lying and fake niceness going on, that'll do more harm. In a nutshell: don't mind the occasional smiley face.

imagine my surprise (5, Funny)

friedman101 (618627) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043793)

After the market damage from last week my broker sent me this

IM IN UR PORTFOLIO
SHORTING UR GUGULS

Re:imagine my surprise (1)

ggKimmieGal (982958) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044297)

Wow. Hopefully you are a regular visitor of http://icanhascheezburger.com/ [icanhascheezburger.com]

I probably would have laughed, but I try to keep things personal between me and the people I'm paying. They remember your name and face better if they have something out of the ordinary to remember you by. Consider yourself lucky!

Re:imagine my surprise (1)

Darlantan (130471) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044439)

Dear sirs,

We regret to inform you that the site you listed has is a lame rip of a different meme known as "caturday". We politely request that you do more research on the subject to determine the original source(s) before posting some lame, style-biting site.

-- The Mgmt.

wish i'd had that kind of cash (2)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043803)

at age 25. Seriously, this is not a concern of the average person, and those who do have it as a concern are free to take their business to other brokers who are more reserved.

Re:wish i'd had that kind of cash (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043925)

Cripes, my father would be glad just to know his broker CARES. He's pretty much decided that the whole thing is a scam and they throw the common people into the crappy stocks while they take the good ones for themselves. Of course, by now, he'd probably think the frowny face was an attempt to mock him.

On a more serious note...

Others have stated that emoticons are used to display emotion, and clarify things. But the simply -presence- of the emoticon is a sign in itself, and it clearly says 'I'm not taking this seriously' to anyone who isn't used to chatting on the internet. (Not communicating, chatting.) It's yet another example of sending a sign you don't know you are sending via the internet.

In IT (2, Insightful)

LordBafford (1087463) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043817)

I am in the IT industry and internet slang and emoticons are pretty much the norm. Mainly in IM communication in out department. We use Jabber and in daily communication it is not unusual to have a smiley or lols thrown in the chatter. i think it all depends on what field you are in an the type of communication you are using. In an email generally these aren't accepted practice for business, but we do throw them in here and there for less formal occasions.

Re:In IT (2, Funny)

keeboo (724305) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044385)

We use Jabber and(...)

Dear sir,

I formally inform you my apprecciation on your choice of IM systems.

Yours,
Keeboo Booboo

Ps.: :)

Not always about being "cute" (5, Insightful)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043835)

One of the biggest flaws of text-only communication is that it doesn't include the "side-channel" of body language. A sentence sent as an instant message or email might fit well with many different tones of voice or facial expressions, and that can affect both the meaning and the likely reaction to it.

Re:Not always about being "cute" (4, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044187)

One of the biggest problems with text based communication is that people simply can't write well.

It is perfectly possible to convey humor, sarcasm, or irony with text, plenty of authors did so well before the electronics age.

That said, there are two solutions, if it is an informal and won't be distributed, include the damn smiley. If it's serious or formal (even if you're making a sarcastic comment to your boss,) take the time to make sure your email conveys what you want it to convey. If you can't express what you want in type don't.

The standard cop out that something doesn't translate well to text is bull. Jonathan Swift didn't complainabout how hard it is to write effective satire, nor does Garry Trudeau for that matter.

Re:Not always about being "cute" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044517)

Maybe if Swift's 'A modest propsal' ended with a :-p people wouldn't of got so bent out of shape.

Text too formal for emotion (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043863)

Emotions are part of human life. Most business and email communication is too starchy now for emotion, which wasn't always the case, if you look at how clear letters from 100 years ago were. Most people are also emotionally easily inflamed, and so we're all afraid that others are flaring up or running off to cry over their Wellbutrin. We need emotions for online communication and yes, they're overused, but until we find a better way to communicate "mood" or "emotion" email, IM, blogs and forums will be dependent upon the icky little emoticons we've come to loathe.

It could be worse... (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043889)

"I'm not going to feel better about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because someone puts a frown face to regretfully inform me.'"

I don't know what she is complaining about. If they are using them in the military it could be a lot worse. Imagine the text message after the next friendly fire incident:

"Sorry we didn't mean to blow you up ;-)"

I've found emoticons to be important (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043891)

...in establishing online relationships (be them work, personal, friendship, etc). An emoticon gives you the ability to express the emotions that you can't when you're typing words on the keyboard. I really don't know how chat could be established without emoticons (well, acronyms help but i don't want to RTFM just to find out WTF does an acronym mean). And custom emoticons (i.e. in MSN) are very valuable to express your personality online, and this is a feature I miss in other instant messengers. I have around 30 custom emoticons that I use on a daily basis, and help me express a part of myself that I find difficult to express even offline.

Sounds like a basketcase (2, Insightful)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043909)

I wonder what the story is behind this Ms. Feldman, 25, and her multizillion dollar real estate deal?

My guess is she got herself real pumped up and greedy over what was probably only passing interest expressed by some buyer. If she's enough of a looney to get this bent out of shape over an "emoticon", then I wouldn't put it past her to grossly overstate the importance or her deal and the notion that it spontaneously fell through at the "23rd hour". I'm guessing her buyer may have been spooked for reasons that had nothing to do with the property...

In the navy (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043941)

"A wink says quite a lot," said Mr. Michel, a former lieutenant commander in the Navy. "An admiral could say a wink means a thousand different things -- but I know what it means. It's a kind of code."
Indeed.

Emotiflags? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20043957)

Whatever became of Microsoft's new fangled "emotiflag"?

Mature people don't use emoticons (1)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043959)

I understand where these people are coming from. Emoticons have no use outside of 13 year olds instant messaging. Anyone else using them needs to grow up. ;)

Re:Mature people don't use emoticons (1)

AVee (557523) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044459)

Reading articles like this make me want to avoid growing up even more.

This predates emoticons (1)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043967)

There have been various movements over the years to add an "irony" punctuation mark [wikipedia.org] to the language.

I often see the smiley emoticon used in this fashion, to defuse an insult or make sure the reader understands that what is said isn't meant to be taken literally, such as "You're such a jerk :)."

Re:This predates emoticons (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044315)

I use sarcasm a lot in much of my writings, but sarcasm is hard to get across in writing because there is no intonation that can be expressed in writing.

I only wish that there was a sarcasm mark (!)

I wuv you! (4, Funny)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 7 years ago | (#20043981)

A few years ago, I received an email filled with bouncing hearts from a person at a client company. WTF?!? I had no idea who this person was. I didn't recognize the name and knew I'd never communicated with her in any way in the past. I sent her the information she'd requested being careful to use the most neutral, professional prose I could muster. Then I looked at the code on her email and saw it was pulling images from one of those "free emoticons" sites. Turns out she'd installed a toolbar that added a bunch of crap to all of her outgoing emails. It was early February so it was adding valentine hearts to everything. Sure enough, after valentine's day, it switched to shamrocks. Apparently someone told her about it because the graphics disappeared before switching to bunnies and eggs.

Re:I wuv you! (3, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044293)

Of course, it's always possible that she -knew- those were there and thought they were cute. Some people honestly don't realize that some things simply aren't done.

For instance, when I first joined this company, they had an employee (very nice, very good with customers) that absolutely refused to stop typing emails in all caps. After several customers had complained and every manager above them had had a talk with them, the owner had a talk... It ended in a screaming fit and I never did figure out if they quit or were fired. They simply could not accept that they were being rude, no matter how many times they were told so.

Informal usage only (2, Funny)

Pap22 (1054324) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044003)

While I agree that it is no longer reserved for tweens who can't type, people need to realize that it is and always will be part of informal writing. To say "it is for expressing feelings, but via a text message" is stupid because we have WORDS to do that. Hence, using emoticons in formal writing is just your signal to the world that you have no writing skills. It doesn't just apply to emoticons:

Informal:
"wtfm8?"

Formal:
"Sir, I am absolutely flabbergasted that you would insult my intelligence with such incoherent dribble."

Re:Informal usage only (5, Funny)

dj_tla (1048764) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044131)

"Sir, I am absolutely flabbergasted that you would insult my intelligence with such incoherent dribble."

Formal:
"I should hope you mean drivel, good sir, for I am neither slobbering like a hound nor partaking in a rousing game of basketball!"

Informal:
"lol, lern 2 english"

Puctuation and grammer (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044077)

Emoticons can be annoying.

Whats the consensus on punctuation and grammar in business? Are we all heading towards l33t speak? (shudder)

Anybody else seeing emails with no capital letters? (and yes, I have sent some myself before)

Re:Puctuation and grammer (1)

241comp (535228) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044165)

Regularly. I usually take the professionalism of an email/IM as an indicator of the issue's importance and urgency. Most emails of this type are given lowest priority in my research / response queue.

Re:Puctuation and grammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044237)

dear sir or madame

ur bank balance is about -500 bucks!! plz fix it asap thanks ;) :) :) :)

oh and btw interest rates are going up ^_^ soz lol

cya

g smith (h_4_x_0_r@hotmail.com)
managger
hoyts bank

Sarcasm (1)

billdar (595311) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044109)

In one thread, a wisecrack about campus elevators was misinterpreted by some as a safety warning, so Dr. Fahlman suggested using :-) as a way to indicate jokes and :-( for remarks to be taken seriously

Sarcasm and certain witticisms don't translate well to text as Dr. Fahlman noted back in the day. A smiley or "!" at the end tends to deflect misinterpretation on the receiver's end. Example response(exaggerated for clarity):

F*ck you.

F*ck you :)

Sadly, I get several email responses like this a day. The presence or absence of the smiley determines the office exit I leave through at the end of the day :)

F*ck!

8-O (1)

pigiron (104729) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044127)

This is news? Emoticons came into popular use along with email back in the 1970's.

For the LAST time, they're SMILIES, not emoticons! (1)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044241)

Well, at least I *tried* to post the original Smiley doc...but I got: Reason: Please use fewer 'junk' characters. Fucking SD. And here was the place I thought I'd never have to worry about the content of my reply. These filters are starting to piss me off.

Stupid bitch doesn't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044253)

film at 11.

Hate to break it to Ms. Feldman (1)

rk (6314) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044283)

But I was using emoticons (we just called them "smileys" then... real computers didn't HAVE icons) on BITNET in the 1980s when her biggest concern was whether her My Little Pony or Care Bears collection got put on the top shelf in her room. They're not a recent phenomenon.

*grumble* damn kids need to get off my lawn :-(

LOL (1)

ultrabot (200914) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044309)

Smileys do clarify matters (and don't seem juvenile to me - hell, we were using them back in -93. Whining about smileys seems kind of anal retentive, and people who do that probably would better stick with sending paper envelopes and word/excel documents to each other.

However, suffixing a sentence with lol communicates quite a bunch of negative things about the other end.

wtfm8? (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044321)

What kind of incompetent business woman gets angry at an emoticon when they apparently just lost a huge deal at the last minute. It sounds like this did happen, but it was a small deal, it was cancelled right at the beginning and the woman got angry because she didn't get the deal and as a result just completely overexaggerated to make herself feel better.

Brando would be ashamed of her (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044357)

"I get an e-mail from the broker saying, 'Sorry, my client is not interested in the space, too bad we couldn't make the big bucks' -- then there's a frown face!"

Maybe she should've made them an offer they couldn't refuse [imdb.com] . Then she wouldn't have anything to worry about (except blowback).

Irony, anyone? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044399)

"Emoticons, she added, should be reserved for use by "naïve tweens on AOL Instant Messenger finding out after-school soccer practice is canceled."".....says Alexis Feldman, 25.

Alexis, perhaps you could understand that the mores of communication are constantly evolving. In the same sense that it used to be de-rigeur to have to wear a suit and tie to work, the pendulum overswung during the dot-com era to where NOTHING was ever formal, to now where business casual is the norm. It's the same with language, and yes, even styles of email. We can of course forgive you - you're hidebound by all that time you've spent in the high-power business world .... since what, you graduated from college in ... 2005?

Pardon me for not taking the opinion of a 25 year old so terribly seriously. :)

:) r lame (1)

twmcneil (942300) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044435)

2005 called to tell you that the kids stopped using emoticons a few years ago. They say "It's lame."

An old guy with kids

Professionalism. (1)

Usekh (557680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044445)

My job is basicaly to answer emails for an ISP. And I would never ever dream of using an emoticon in one. These are supposed to be professional communications.

Saying that, in other communications I am a chronic overuser of them ;/

bad news (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044479)

I'm not going to feel better about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars because someone puts a frown face to regretfully inform me.

You mean like:

Dear xyzxyz,

I regretfully inform you that due to an unsuccessful financial maneuver the company is now critically indebted.

oops.. :(

Yours,
Looking For a New Job Joe

<3 emoticons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20044497)

ftw

Scary (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044525)

Emoticon has become much more than something the kids do after school.... being used by stock brokers and even the U.S. Military

Blowing stuff up is fun :-)

US Military use of emoticons (1)

shadowspar (59136) | more than 7 years ago | (#20044541)

Am I the only one who thought of messages like

sry we had 2 bomb u :-/
have a nice day :-)

when hearing that the US military uses emoticons?

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