Of course, one problem is that the people who are most likely to write pathetic notes are the least likely to read an article of this sort. But at least for those who care, perhaps this can offer some helpful pointers.
Later in the comments, she adds:
My main motivation for writing the piece was the numerous ridiculous inquiries I get all the time. I plan on creating a “Contact me” page where I will link to this piece so people who write to me know what they need to include for me to be able to assist them. I am happy to help people out, but with the best of intentions, some of the emails are either impossible to answer meaningfully or would require a ton of work on my part. [Bold emphasis added]
This is a great idea for anyone who has to deal with lots and lots of such e-mail. I'm not there yet, as I'm able to deal with the e-mails I receive without going -- or getting -- mad. But when I do get there, I know what to do.
I guess I will probably never get to a stage that Neal Stephenson has reached [link via a comment on Hargittai's post]. For those who don't wish to click through: he defends the idea that not responding to e-mails and letters is not only in his interest, but it is also in the interest of his readers/correspondents.