Should Students Send a ‘Thank You’ Message after Every E-mail Exchange with a Professor?

In Writing for the Internet, I had my students read some articles about e-mail and power relationships in the classroom. They are raising some very good questions in response. One asked me whether professors expect their students to send thank-you messages after every e-mail exchange.

I just checked with two colleagues, and their reactions confirmed my own gut response. If it’s just a routine question (what format do you want me to use, do you want it on paper or online), all three of us agreed that we don’t expect a thank-you.

If I answer with a quick two or three word reply, and then a few minutes later I see another message from the student in my in box, I’ll assume that the student has a raft of new questions.

If the request required me to look something up, or give an opinion that takes longer than two or three seconds, then yes, a thank you might be appropriate.

Anyone else want to chime in?