The Secret Cause of Flame Wars
According to recent research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, I've only a 50-50 chance of ascertaining the tone of any e-mail message. The study also shows that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time.
I wonder to what extent emoticons would increase the likelihood of interpreting the tone? I use them all the time in corresponding with students with the idea that they should make a difference.