You’ve discovered that your site is being plagiarized. scraped or otherwise misused. You’ve located contact information for the person behind the site, discovered who the host is or have otherwise determined your course of action and have your stock letter in hand.
So how do you keep the workflow moving and make the process of preparing and sending the letter as painless as possible? The answer is easy, templating.
Not only is it important for sending a DMCA notice or a cease and desist, but it is also useful for any other form of correspondence you send out semi-regularly.
Fortunately, no matter what you use to check and send email, there is probably a system available, for free or very low cost, that lets you easily template and fill out form letters, all without leaving your favorite mail client.
Since most email users currently use some form of Webmail service as their primary email service, the Web browser becomes not just a tool for viewing Web pages, but also the most important email client.
Fortunately, nearly every single browser either has a feature or an add on that that can function as an email template system.
Firefox, for example, has the Signature Extension. Signature allows you to paste any block of text into any form field with a right click of the mouse. It was designed for adding signature lines to emails and forum posts but can work with text of any length, making it perfect for pasting in any form correspondence.
Internet Explorer users have to look a little harder, but they have several systems available to them, each of which integrate with Windows. They include Autotext and Textomatic. Though neither solution is free, both are reasonably priced and offer trial periods.
Opera users have the ability to insert blocks of text built into their browser through the “Notes” feature. All one has to do is set up their templates in the Notes panel and then right click on any Web form to insert their text.
Other browsers have similar tools available, though many of them will integrate with the operating system, not the browser, meaning that they are also available to be used with any other email client that is on the system.
Though Thunderbird users have access to their own version of Signature, it isn’t available for the latest versions of the program. Fortunately, QuickText expands upon the functionality of Signature and Thunderbird’s built-in features.
Likewise, the Stationery add-on is an option, however, its HTML formatting tools might be overkill for someone just wanting to send out plan text form letters.
All in all, Thunderbird users have several good options for sending out form letters from their email client.
My mail application of choice, Apple Mail, offers one of the best mail templating systems available, MailTemplate. MailTemplate not only allows you to create templates for easy insertion, but offers a wide range of variables that can be automatically filled in by the program.
The only downside to MailTemplate is that a full version of it costs $15. However, if it is a program that you are likely to use regularly, it is well worth the price.
If you are using Leopard, you are even in better luck as the latest version of Apple Mail includes a full mail templating system, that you can use to customize your messages.
Outlook already has a decent template system built in. You can even download additional templates from Microsoft’s site.
However, if you require more power, Bells and Whistles for Outlook provides more advanced template management complete with autofilled variables.
Overall, those who use Outlook to handle their email are pretty well covered when it comes to templating.
Other Programs and General Tips
Other email applications, obviously, will have different needs and requirements than those listed above. Many will likely have some form of templating built into the program while others will need to use an add on.
However, to simplify the process, the add ons will likely integrate not with the application directly, but the operating system. Windows users may want to look at the add ons listed with Internet Explorer as most of them can be used with any application and Mac users will likely want to look at Typinator.
If your email program doesn’t offer the feature as a built-in option or have a free add on available, you might want to consider working around the problem by saving a copy of the letter to your drafts folder and then copying it as needed. Though not an elegant solution, it is an excellent workaround for those who want to have a notices on hand but don’t use stock letters often enough to warrant a paid application.
As with most things in life, being prepared is half of the battle when dealing with content theft and plagiarism. One of the ways you can be better prepared is to have your letters at the ready and available to send out whenever necessary. This not only speeds up the process of dealing with such matters, but lets you get back to the things you enjoy even sooner.
The good news is that being ready takes very little time and, depending on the approach you take, is completely free or very inexpensive. Best of all, you can easily expand the techniques you use to quickly prepare emails regarding content theft to other areas of your inbox and save time on all of your mail duties.
In short, this is one of the few areas where improving your content theft strategy can help you in other aspects of your life. Though I don’t use form letters on email regarding this site (there are no “typical” questions asked), elsewhere, the amount of email and replies would have buried me without the use of good templates.
If your time for email is short and you find that you are repeating yourself a great deal, either with DMCA notices or just thank you letters, this is something to look into.