there are no important emails

Repeat after me: There are no important emails. There are no important emails. There are no important emails…

I've maintained for a while there is no such thing as an
important/urgent/critical email. Since it's inception, email has been
unreliable. Email delivery is best-effort with no guarantee
your message will make it to it's destination and no way to find out if
it was read or not.

On many email lists related to anti-spam measures, you'll find
people who say any false-positives or undelivered mail is unacceptable.
email were meant to be reliable in the first place, I'd think this is a
valid point. However, given it's unreliability–even before the
spamdemic of the past few years–why would anyone rely on it? I have
answer: laziness and cheapness. It is easy to send email from anywhere,
almost anything. It is harder–and possibly more expensive re:
implementation–to relay information in a more reliable way. But, it is
that hard.

For example, take a web site which processes orders online. When an
order is placed, and email is sent to the purchaser with a thank
you/receipt and an email is sent to the store owner with the order
information. I'm sure the store owner will say email is critical
since they want to know when they get a customer's money and be able to
process the order quickly. When that email gets blocked and for some
reason the bounce doesn't make it to the store owner, they will be
understandably upset when the customer calls to ask where there order
is. Note here that the customer will likely use a reliable method of
communication: the phone.

The problem as I see it is that people will continue to complain about
how their email must not be blocked, but they won't spend the time and
money to implement a more reliable solution. In this case, the shopping
cart software could provide an SSL encrypted, password protected RSS
feed which the site owner could consume using any RSS aggregator.
Forget for now the benefit they may gain from having an XML
representation of their order details and look at how they have gone
from a push to pull model (as much as I hate those terms). If there is
a problem with accessing the feed, the user will know and can use
alternate methods to get their information–again using a pull method.

At least one other person shares this view. Here's an excerpt:

Of these 858
screened messages, there were none from old friends or people who
wanted to hire me for anything. This becomes a waste of space. I may as
well filter all the junk messages to the deleted folder, and program it
to empty after every restart.

Of course, there is
a chance that something important will get filtered out. But so what?
If it's so critical, the sender can call or send another message.

Nothing has really
changed since the e-mail's first tentative steps, where you are never
sure a message reaches its mark or the recipient will dodge behind
technology failures to say it never arrived.

Am I crazy to think this way?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s