It's such a simple idea.

In a way I'm a bit guilty. I've taught people that since when they send an e-message the date on which it was sent shows up in the header of the message, there's no reason to add the date to the message itself. But if I've taken this much responsibility, perhaps I can also be allowed to make a simple proposal.

If someone is using e-mail to send out a mass appeal - for a missing child, for a particular type of blood, to raise contributions for a needy family - would it be asking too much to date the appeal? I've received urgent requests to vote for or against something or other in a CNN or TIME Magazine poll that have been passed on to me more than a year after the vote took place. And since that sort of thing happens quite frequently, when I receive a request (invariably from the same sources) for a particular type of blood, the first thing I want to see in the letter is the date for when it was originally posted, and (why not) an expiration date, something along the lines of "if you receive this after October 2002, please disregard it".

It's details like this that might convince me that a plea I receive is truly legitimate.

Go to: Believe me when I tell you ...