Email travails

Over the past couple of months I have written a couple of times about e-mail and that’s due to its importance in my life.

It has been been an incredibly useful tool and, at the same time, it has been the cause of much frustration. Much of that frustration has been caused by the regular arrival of unwanted advertising or Spam in my inbox.

I didn’t realise just how much Spam I was receiving until I began to use Google’s new web-based e-mail system just over a month ago. The way the system works is that it puts messages it thinks are Spam into a special folder and then deletes them after a month.

This gives you the chance to rescue any messages that are incorrectly labelled as Spam before they are deleted. It also gives you a count of all the Spam you’ve received and, as it turns out, I seem to get about 3000 a month.

The e-mail messages I actually want to receive make up less than five percent of the total of the ones I receive and I get boiling mad at the thought of the time I used to spend wading through that mass of e-mails each day, and deleting the ones I didn’t want.

Google’s Gmail, I have to say, is particularly good at weeding out the Spam and, at most, I only get a couple of messages a day that it doesn’t spot as such. Even more reassuring is the fact that it only seems to have incorrectly labelled one message as Spam, when it shouldn’t have.

At the moment, because the system is still test, you might find it difficult to get an account unless you can wangle an invite from someone who already has one. I think the future of e-mail is online and, even though I still download my messages as a backup, I am already composing most of my messages through Gmail.

My Spam burden is much, much less than it was but there is one problem that I still haven’t solved and I wonder if anyone has. It is that most people don’t read their e-mails carefully enough and don’t answer all the questions you ask them.

If you were to ask people what the name of their dog was and what colour it was, most people would reply simply that their dog is called Spot. I have sometimes wondered if I should break up lists of instructions or questions into multiple e-mails.

I’m was afraid that that might be seen as insulting so I have so far resisted the urge. What I have done once or twice is to put a note at the top warning people that there is more than one question or action required from them.

That didn’t work worth a damn, and so back to the drawing board!

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