A probably trivial etiquette question

It’s been a long, hard, grueling, generally lousy academic quarter for me. Having the frickin’ thing over with is worth celebrating, so I’m having a party once everyone’s final grades are submitted.

I’d like to invite quite a few people, some of whom I don’t have phone numbers–or even last names–for. I do have a list of e-mail addresses, though. Here’s my question: is it rude for me to send out a single mass e-mail? Should I invite each person individually, so that the invitation doesn’t look like it’s an academic department get-together, and so that people feel that they, personally, are being invited?

Several of the people I want to invite are from a conversation group I belong to–we meet on Thursday nights and try our best to speak in Portuguese–and we had discussed the idea of having something like a Lusophile party, where everyone who came to the conversation table would automatically be invited. I want to make it clear that the party at my place is not a semi-official Spanish and Portuguese department party, and that no-one is invited merely because they have an interest in a specific language. I genuinely like just about everyone I’ve met through the conversation table.

So what do you think? Mass e-mail or individual messages?

  • Incidentally, I haven’t really learned much Portuguese. Not much at all. I can carry on some very basic exchanges in the present and preterite–that’s it. And no irregular verbs. Most of the time, I have to try to summon a word in Spanish or French from the cobweb-festooned nooks and crannies of what passes for my brain and then grope for a Portuguese-sounding cognate. And since I speak like a retarded 7-year-old in Spanish and like a retarded rhesus in French…well…all right. I’m pretty lousy at Portuguese. But I’ll get better once I’m not always away doing other crap required for my degree. Feh.

Sorry if I’m rambling. It’s 5-something am here, and I’ve been up all night. And there’s more work to go. The night is lovely, dark, and deep. But I have deadlines I must keep. Papers to grade before I sleep.

I hate the end of the quarter. Ecch.

I think I’d go with the personal, individual email. Even if you copy-paste th’ body text, it’ll look less like just a gathering, as you say.

I don’t think it would technically be rude to send out a mass email, but i think you may be more likely to get a response from people (and get them to turn up) if you sent them an individual invite.

Sending out a mass email would be a bit like sending a party invitation out with the phrase “to whoever it may concern” at the top rather than a name.

A personal email would be more, well, “personal”! :slight_smile:

You can go with one of the free electronic invitation services, like Evite. You get some graphics, a list of who is and isn’t coming, if they’re bringing guests, all that good stuff. I like those very much if I only have email addresses to use, especially if it’s an informal affair. While not as personal as individual emails, it shows that you put some effort into it.

What software do you use for e-mail? Microsoft Outlook has a feature where you can send a broadcast e-mail but it looks as though the individual is the only one in the “to” field.

Just don’t ask me how to do it!

We hold two mammoth parties per year. The invitations go out via email as a broadcast.

Never seemed to offend anyone.

If you do send an email to everyone use the BCC feature. (Blind Carbon Copy). This will send email to everyone, but they will not be able to view the list of recipients. This is always a good idea when sending emails to groups of people who don’t know eachother. That way, when the inevitable not so bright person hits “reply to all” to tell you that they are coming, everyone won’t be spammed with the message.

I’ve now been invited to two events this year using Evite, and I think it’s by far the most impersonal and irritating way to invite someone. For one thing, the damn email itself doesn’t tell you the details of where and when.

I vote mass email. It’s not impersonal, it’s efficient. Use bcc to keep the guest list secret and add a sense of mystery.

Not official etiquette advice - more practical.
If, for some reason, you don’t bcc everyone - alphabetize the “to” list.
Otherwise, people will count down the list to find out how they rank on your list-of-friends. People (ok, me, but others I know do it too) are petty that way.

This old fogey (42) needs to check in to suggest he is surprised any young whippersnapper would even question the appropriateness of a single e-mail with multiple addressees. The de-personalization of electronic communication is a concern frequently voiced by folk who did not begin keyboarding in pre-school. This same concern is regularly rejected by hard/on-liners. “The message is what’s important, man! Not the medium or the identify of the utterer.”

Personally, I would not be in the least offended at being one on a list of addressees. In fact, it would be interesting to see who else is invited. And, the single e-mail would effectively convey to the Port. group, or any other group you hang with, that the gathering is not limited to them.

Um, am I to assume my invite got lost in the ether?

Please use Bcc: if you go the mass e-mail route.

(1) Some people work very hard to keep their e-mail addresses private and don’t want them broadcast to a bunch of strangers.

(2) It’s a pain to scroll through a big long list of names to get to the meat of the message.

(3) There’s always some bozo that has their e-mail client set to “Automatically put people I reply to in my address book” AND forwards every piece of e-mail trash they get to “Everyone.” Using Bcc: puts the kibosh on this.

My take on the etiquette of this - mass email is just fine for a very informal, “just drop in if you want” kind of party - just make sure the email makes that clear. Anything more formal, and I would not mass email - I would call personally.

I would not use Evite. Many people (like me) get REALLY, REALLY angry when someone gives their e-mail address to a third party website. Many sites like that an egreeting cards, etc, sell their e-mail lists to spammers, and I trust none of them.

This is also why you should use BCC.

My thoughts :

  1. You could bcc everyone and say something to the effect of “You are all invited to… Yes, I’ve bcc’d the whole conversation group (you know who you are) as well as some of my friends,” whatever, just let everyone know that they are part of a group of invitees.

  2. If everyone has been part of an e-mail mass-mail before or if you think they wouldn’t mind having their e-mail addy shared, just address the e-mail to the whole group. Put in a “reply-to” link to discourage the reply-to-allers.

My crowd uses e-mail for invites, I’ve sent and received them both of these ways.

Thanks for your advice, everybody. The tips about alphabetizing the recipients list and using BCC were particularly enlightening.

I’m calling or e-mailing all of my friends (and the people who I’ve gotten a little out-of-touch with but used to be closer to, or who I at least used to see more of) personally about the party. That’s everyone who isn’t part of the Portuguese group.

The conversation table people are getting a BCC copy of a single invitation. A friend of mine, the guy who runs the group, already has their e-mail addresses on a list, but doesn’t have any records of whose name matches up with whose address. (He just collected e-mails to send out one document, and didn’t really plan to use them again.) That makes personalizing each invitation a little difficult.

Oh, and Dinsdale–Yeah, your invite got dispersed into the ether. Either that, or it was munched into bits by the hamsters.

I don’t know where you live. As it says in my profile, I’m at nowhere interesting. If you’re willing to come to nowhere interesting (or are already there), and you’ve been having a hard quarter, too (or, even if you haven’t been having a hard quarter–you lucky stiff), you’re quite welcome to come hang out with us.