A pet peeve of mine: Get rid of those useless e-mail disclaimers

E-mail disclaimers are one of the minor nuisances of modern office life, along with fire drills, annual appraisals and colleagues who keep sneezing loudly. Just think of all the extra waste paper generated when messages containing such waffle are printed. They are assumed to be a wise precaution. But they are mostly, legally speaking, pointless. Lawyers and experts on internet policy say no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America, the most litigious of rich countries.

Many disclaimers are, in effect, seeking to impose a contractual obligation unilaterally, and thus are probably unenforceable. This is clear in Europe, where a directive from the European Commission tells the courts to strike out any unreasonable contractual obligation on a consumer if he has not freely negotiated it. And a footer stating that nothing in the e-mail should be used to break the law would be of no protection to a lawyer or financial adviser sending a message that did suggest something illegal.

Whenever I’ve been asked to use those silly disclaimers underneath my e-mails I’ve always been quick to point that they are in fact (at least in Europe and probably in most other places), completely meaningless.

So, please, save space in our mailboxes and delete those unnecessary lines of text…

Boot-strapping IT for a non-profit (or other start-up)

Nowadays, you can’t really run any company without having a proper setup for e-mail, websites, shared folders, backups and all those things that comes with running day to day operations in an efficient way. For a start-up or an NGO that neither has access to an IT department, nor a lot of time or money to spend on infrastructure , it becomes even more crucial to find the right solution. To spell it out, it needs to be something that just works, and preferrably comes at no (or little) cost.

However, the good news is that there in fact are many such solutions that fits those criteria perfect already and as part of my fellowship at Waste Ventures I’ve been configuring these for our use. Since I’ve since received quite a few questions from others on how to set things like this up, I figured i’d share it as a blog post. 

Read on for my tips for all those services a company needs when bootstrapping their operations.