Unfortunately, email is an imprecise form of communication because it can be impossible to tell if someone’s being sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek sometimes without seeing/hearing them speak.
I hate this cop-out. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
Email is imprecise? Really now? Email is writing. Email is a letter sent electronically, that's it. And letters have been a form of communication for millennia.
Somehow, I don't see a mid-sixteenth century writer needing a smiley face, or a LOL in his letters to get his amusement across. I don't think I've seen a *G* in any source materials I've gotten a glimpse of. Yet they got their points across clearly. Just because you're writing with a keyboard and not a quill doesn't mean you can't do the same thing.
My emails, bulletin board posts, and other internet wanderings have very seldom been misconstrued. Usually it's only in IMs that I'm taken wrong, and usually because I tossed out something without thinking it through. Very rarely, some underlying emotion that I'd hoped to concealed comes through, but I can't really think of a single incident where someone got me all the way wrong. If I don't know how to say it right, I don't freaking say it at all.
And really, to see this kind of excuse spill out of the mouth of a writer? Bull-fucking-shit. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. Because the day an editor lets *LOL* and *G* fill a book is the day I shove all my manuscripts under the bed and quit writing.
(And yes, this post is in response to a thread I saw out dere on teh interwebz, in a location I won't be pointing out. I didn't post this there because the author in question is totally fanning the flames all on her little-ole-own. Far be it from me to hand her extra kindling.)