Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet IT

Emoticons in the Workplace 258

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the don't-smile-at-me dept.
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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Emoticons in the Workplace

Comments Filter:
    • Re:Shocking! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Monkey (795756) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:12PM (#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
      • lol i think you meant 'weird'
        =)
        kbye
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Richard Steiner (1585)

        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.


        Hey, we were using multi-channel chat rooms on timesharing systems in the late 1970's. That's what the MULTI environment was for on CDC Cybers. :-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by thethibs (882667)

        You mean being of the first generation to grow up without TymeShare, BBSs and Usenet. One of the neat things about being really young is the illusion that your generation invented everything. (Although this doesn't explain Al Gore)

      • by spineboy (22918)
        Somehow, I don't think that e-mail and emoticons will ever come into certain conversations in communication with patients.

        Mrs. Smith, you have a tumor on your leg and need an amputation :-(

        or Mr. Jones, your ESR is 10 :-)

        I actually don't talk to patients with e-mail, as it is too hard to misconstrue, or patients take small facts and run with the idea. I have been using computers for 25+ years (Apple II -> Linux), so it's not a comfort issue. Physicians are mixed in this issue, some say it saves much t
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @04:21PM (#20047711)

        I got an e-mail the other day from an insurance company that contained two :).


        UR RATEZ WENT UP BY 22%!!! ZOMG WTF!!! :(
        ON TEH BRITE SIZE OUR PROFITZ R UP BY 33%!!! LOL!!! :)
  • by zCyl (14362) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:05PM (#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?
    • 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? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by iknownuttin (1099999)
        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.

        • You can abuse emoticons just as liars and scumbags put on a grin as they stab you in the back.

          Ms. Feldman surely wouldn't expect a stone-faced monotone from a person informing her of a lost deal in person....would she?

        • I don't know about you, but I've been insulted to my face while the insulter had this nice smile on their face.

          it has been my experience that it is far easier to be insulting to people by email. as an IT support type, i have gotten a number of insulting emails, often something along the lines of "get your ass over here and fix my..."

          even the most vitriolic of senders becomes remarkably pleasant in person. they are always appreciative when i show up in person. the fact that i am close to 300lbs and us

      • by Fozzyuw (950608) on Monday July 30, 2007 @01:01PM (#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.
    • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ggKimmieGal (982958)
        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
      • 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.
        • 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.
          • by Chysn (898420) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:33PM (#20045937)

            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.
            Let's take that concept for a ride:

            The actual death count at Chernobyl was vastly exaggerated by the media :-D . Only a few dozen people died :)
            • Here's what I just typed out:
              An... amusing take. :-)

              Now let's see that again:
              An... amusing take.

              And again:
              An... amusing take. :-/

              Once more:
              An... amusing take. :-(

              Interesting how it goes from light, to dry, to wry, to negative, isn't it? ;-)

              FWIW, I was thinking more along the lines of:

              "One of the key issues to understand about Chernobyl is that the media greatly exaggerated the death rate. Make no mistake, there *were* thousands of people who contracted thyroid cancer, but the vast majority were treated and are still alive today. According to the international research body setup to study the effects of Chernobyl, the actual death toll was (thankfully) closer to only a few dozen individuals. :-)"
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by myowntrueself (607117)
                the actual death toll was (thankfully) closer to only a few dozen individuals. :-)"

                You need to be careful how you terminate sentences, quoting etc with emoticons.

                That just looked as if you said:

                the actual death toll was (thankfully) closer to only a few dozen individuals. :-)" (slurp, yum! spaghetti!!)
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Adambomb (118938)
            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. Um, remember that such writing not only has to be produced but also UNDERSTOOD. I have found using emoticons is sometimes the only way to get people to understand the tone and context without a massive amount of overhead.

            Some people jus
        • by Altus (1034)

          Maybe they are used by people who are sick of being misunderstood constantly.

          How do you get sarcasm across in a post? is that really any better than an emoticon?

          I have often seen people mod down sarcastic posts or respond aggressively to a post that clearly had no ill intent. You can be the best writer on the web and it still only takes one idiot to misunderstand what you wrote. An emoticon is protection against such idiots.
        • by Skadet (528657) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:16PM (#20045739) Homepage
          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.

          I consider myself a fairly sharp writer -- not author material, perhaps, but easily in the top percentile when it comes to expressing myself through written word. However, it seems I have a knack for coming across as a smart-ass in my informal communication. A main complaint about me in my WoW guild (I'll wait for you to stop laughing. . . okay.) is that I seem like a total dick in guild chat. But the same people who say that will add that I'm the "nicest guy" on Ventrilo.

          I really can think of no way to correct that without talking to people as if they're children -- congratulating them on the smallest of accomplishments, peppering my words with :) and ~_^ . . . without hearing the inflection of your voice, a lot of people will automatically assume that a playful or sarcastic, or playfully sarcastic comment is rude and mean-spirited.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aceticon (140883)
        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

      • by halber_mensch (851834) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:46PM (#20046157)

        Sprinkling the post with :-), :-P, or :-/ here and there can help get the correct tone across, even if it looks kind of lame. :-/
        <?XML version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
        <tone xmlns="http://smileysarebad.com/xsd/tone">
        <facetious>Hasn't XML, in its infinite glory in all applications, already given us a method that's a little less lame?</facetious>
        </tone>
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by AKAImBatman (238306)
          <?XML version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
          <voice-impression>
          <Teal-C>Indeed. Though is it not overly verbose for regular communications, Mr. Mensch?</Teal-C>
          </voice-impression>

          :-P
  • by HitekHobo (1132869) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:05PM (#20043715) Homepage
    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.
    • by pbhj (607776) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:17PM (#20043911) Homepage Journal
      omgponies roflmao

      #;o)>
    • by networkBoy (774728) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:37PM (#20044225) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iabervon (1971)
        And, of course, it's exactly the same as the use of facial expressions and informal speech in face-to-face interaction. The (negative) example from the article is one where it would be similarly inappropriate for the other party to look distinctly sad in a face-to-face conversation, so the emoticon version is also bad. Now, maybe some people are using emoticons to express things they wouldn't express in person, indicating a loss of formality due to the medium where it's required, but that's hardly the same
    • 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. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:05PM (#20043719) Journal
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Orange Crush (934731)

      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 me

    • Re:Meh. (Score:4, Funny)

      by tb()ne (625102) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:50PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by EtoilePB (1087031)
      This is how I always feel, as well. I'm guilty of using emoticons to excess when posting in forums online, and when modding communities I run (particularly when deleting posts made by teenage girls who already think they suck, an occasional :) helps them not take it too personally). But anytime I catch myself dropping one into an e-mail at work, even into an informal e-mail directed at a colleague I consider myself friendly with, I delete it immediately.

      I'm in my late 20s and so supposedly of this gener
  • But, I just became legal again to use the frowny: http://www.despair.com/acompromise.html [despair.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by notnAP (846325)
      :-(

      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. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:09PM (#20043779) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by otacon (445694)
      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.
      • by TeraCo (410407)
        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.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I find that emoticons such as :), :( and :0, can be very useful to convey the mood of an email. However, things like LOL,L8R, and all the other giberish, for which perfectly good words exist are unnecessary in the work place. Things like sending nudges and winks on MSN, as well as replacing words with animated GIFs is completely unnacceptable in the work place. Maybe I'm just a bit too serious about work, but it makes me lose confidence in the people I'm working with when they refuse to write coherent se
    • +5 Insightful (Score:4, Informative)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:18PM (#20043931) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • 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.
        • 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

      • by syrinx (106469)
        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.
  • by andrewd18 (989408) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:09PM (#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.
    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:19PM (#20043951) Journal
      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.
      • by Billosaur (927319) *

        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,

    • I completely agree. I doubt they'll ever be appropriate in formal writing (but then, neither are contractions), but when it comes to informal communications anything that makes your meaning clearer is a good thing. Now, if you overuse them or don't use them well, then they can get in the way of clarity, and that defeats the purpose. But used properly, I think they're a step in the right direction in terms of evolution of our (written) language.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by langelgjm (860756)

      naïve tweens

      Clever, working the "penis and testicles" emoticon into your last sentence, there. Thought no one would notice, did you? You sick bastard.

  • 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
  • by friedman101 (618627) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:10PM (#20043793)
    After the market damage from last week my broker sent me this

    IM IN UR PORTFOLIO
    SHORTING UR GUGULS
    • 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!
      • by Darlantan (130471)
        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.
  • 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.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      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
  • In IT (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LordBafford (1087463)
    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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by keeboo (724305)
      We use Jabber and(...)

      Dear sir,

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

      Yours,
      Keeboo Booboo

      Ps.: :)
  • by Lockejaw (955650) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:12PM (#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.
    • by AndersOSU (873247) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:34PM (#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.
  • 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 depe
  • "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 ;-)"
  • ...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 ar
  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:17PM (#20043909) Homepage
    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...
  • "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.
  • 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. ;)
    • by AVee (557523)
      Reading articles like this make me want to avoid growing up even more.
  • 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 :)."
    • 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! (Score:4, Funny)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:21PM (#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! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:41PM (#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.
  • 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 inc
  • 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)

    • by 241comp (535228)
      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.
  • 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!

  • 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.
  • 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 :-(

  • by ultrabot (200914)
    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.
  • "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).
  • "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 languag
  • 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
  • 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?

  • by redelm (54142) on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:07PM (#20046481) Homepage
    After many years of dismissing emoticons as silly frippery, I have reluctantly concluded they can serve a function as important as punctuation: to convey intend tone in electronic messages which are often highly abbreviated and telegraphic.

    Many flamewars have raged because someone missed humor or sarcasm.

    OTOH, it is easy to overdo emoticons and they should only be used to clarify meaning. I can see use for smilies, but my imagination doesn't stretch so far as to conceive a situation that needs a frownie or others. When used redundantly, emoticons can be insulting: how else am I supposed to feel?

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.

Working...