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"Because you can`t see the person who is sending you electronic mail you are sometimes uncertain whether they are serious or joking. Recently, Scott Fahlman at CMU devised a scheme for annotating one`s messages to overcome this problem. If you turn your head sideways to look at the three characters : - ) they look sort of like a smiling face. Thus, if someone sends you a message that says "Have you stopped beating your wife? : - )" you know they are joking. If they say "I need to talk to you : - (", be prepared for trouble."