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Help! Family Spam Is Crushing My Inbox!

Many of us are close to someone who's guilty of sending lots of mass e-mail. For Deborah Burton, it's her father, Clyde Burton.

Clyde Burton typically sends music, photos, PowerPoint presentations, jokes and e-mails about soldiers in Iraq.

"It can be overwhelming because he sends it to work, home, and to just about everyone he can think of," Burton says.

Burton's pet peeve is that her father sends chain e-mails that say she'll face financial and personal doom if she doesn't forward them within a certain period of time. "So I asked him to please never send me any chain e-mail letters. But he still does."

Clyde says he doesn't like chain e-mails — but admits he might send them. And he said he doesn't send political e-mails — although he says he will send some to his brother-in-law.

Canning family-generated spam can be tough, because it's hard to confront an offender you also love.

Addressing it can also be healthy, etiquette experts like Diane Gottsman of the Protocol School of Texas say. Especially when it comes to polemic political e-mail — a favorite among the family members who have consulted her. Gottsman's advice: Don't try to out-e-mail the e-mailer.

Pick up the phone, instead. And if that fails? Stick the sender in the spam filter.

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Yuki Noguchi is a correspondent on the Science Desk based out of NPR's headquarters in Washington, D.C. She started covering consumer health in the midst of the pandemic, reporting on everything from vaccination and racial inequities in access to health, to cancer care, obesity and mental health.