[Air-L] boilerplate email message research

Jeremy Hunsinger jhuns at vt.edu
Mon Oct 29 06:19:11 PDT 2007

It has been my understanding that the category of things that are  
boilerplate does not include 'prefabricated email messages'.   
Boilerplate is a metaphorical category that refers specifically to  
the legal/professional language, citations, and related frameworks  
that 'protect' a specific message, document, etc.  It is something  
that is included to fit into certain norms required by a certain  
regime.  Some professors include the boilerplate "the content in this  
message does not reflect the opinion of my institution', similarly  
some doctors include something like this boilerplate in their email,  
'advice given in email does not constitute my medical opinion, which  
can only be had from an office visit'.  Similarly government  
officials, lawyers, teachers, etc. etc. all may include boilerplate  
statements in their documents.

Jokes, Sayings, Cute messages are forms of chain letters, through  
usually without the explicit threats of traditional chain mail.  I  
suspect these function much the same way that chit-chat does, they  
provide presence and maintain weak ties.

On Oct 29, 2007, at 7:51 AM, julie dare wrote:

> Hi
> Can anyone advise of research or references on the social use of
> 'boilerplate' or prefabricated email messages - the messages  
> containing
> jokes, sayings, cute messages etc. (not spam)  that get forwarded  
> on from
> person to person. The only direct reference I can find is the  
> Boneva and
> Kraut article, Using e-mail for personal relationships: The difference
> gender makes, in The American Behavioral Scientist, November 2001.
> Many thanks
> Julie Dare
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jeremy hunsinger
Information Ethics Fellow, Center for Information Policy Research,  
School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee  

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