I'm OOF right now. (Can't you tell?) OOF is an important concept here in Microsoft, and in other Exchange-using companies around the world. OOF stands for 'out of facilities'. (If you're curious why it's OOF instead of an acronym that doesn't always need to be translated to the uninitiated, there's an explanation of sorts on the Exchange team blog). OOF is pronounced just like you think it is. Think of Batman punching a bad guy in the stomach. The resulting 'oooof' is the correct pronunciation.
Whenever I'm OOF, most people that I work with expect me to set an OOF message. This is a message that's automatically sent to people who email me to tell them that I'm out of the office. In Exchange, you can set some options: whether everyone who emails you gets it or just a select few, the dates that you'll be OOF, and the text of the message to be sent. My OOF message usually includes the dates that I'll be gone, whether I'll be checking email/voicemail, my mobile number (if I'm on a business trip, not when I'm on vacation!), and contact details for other people who might be able to assist them in my absence.
I know that some people (yes, I'm looking at you, John) despise OOF messages. I honestly find them useful. When I'm going to be OOF, I'm not going to email everyone that I work with to let them know that I'm out. I do email a select few (my manager, of course, gets advanced notice of my OOFage), but not everyone (I'm pretty sure that the big boss doesn't want me cluttering up his inbox). I travel frequently, and OOF means that I don't have to email everyone saying that I'll be slow on email whilst travelling. I generally set my OOF to respond only to people from within my company. I know that it's bad form to send OOF messages to mailing lists, so I don't (not to say that I haven't messed up a couple of times ... ). When I email someone and get an OOF message, it's nice to have that response so that I can figure out what to do next (wait for their response, ping someone else, etc).
OOF has long been a request on our to-do list. And it's now here in Entourage 2008. It's immensely useful. Mine is set up right now, and will be turned off when I get back to the office in a couple of weeks.
We'll be talking more about Office 2008 over in Mac Mojo. The big kick-off is 18 September.
I hate them because in the end they're useless.
If they have no alternate contact info, then they're useless because I have no idea who the hell I can talk to about things.
If they DO have contact info, then why was my email not handled by that person in the first place via forwarding, account delegation, or folder sharing?
I don't care that someone on a mailing list is on vacation, and it is the refusal of everyone writing OOF code to deal correctly with mailing lists that makes OOF suck. What it really makes me want to do is write my own EvilOOF when i'm on my honeymoon that will reply to every message with :
I'm out of the office, and can't get your email. Don't you feel special to know that? There's no alternate contact, so good luck on getting this message fixed. Why am I out of the office? Because I'm on my Honeymoon in Key West, and you're at work, or somewhere else that isn't vacation in Key West. Sucks to be you. You have to work. I do not. I'm having a good time. You? Not so much.
Oh, this isn't even a half-assed attempt at a polite out of office message. It's going to hit every single person that I get an email from. Far too many of you were complete pinheads about your stupid OOFs and couldn't be bothered to unsub from email lists, provide alternate contacts, or otherwise handle your being away from your desk like something slightly less important than the end of the friggin' world.
I bet you really wish you'd thought more now. Enjoy reading this message, you're going to get a LOT more. Maybe next time, you'll realize why OOF's are just an ego massage, and handle your absence a bit better, hmm?"
Yeah, they'll be lovin' the OOF concept when I jump on it. Wait, no, no they won't.