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Email systems should be smarter

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by John C. Dvorak, 08 Oct 2012Blog
Email systems should be smarter

Despite the fact that, in today's world, email should be a primary point of contact, many people are incredibly cavalier about it. That's because it's fatiguing to plough through the onslaught of spam and meaningless crap, just to unearth the occasional important message.

Most recently, Twitter has been sending me idiotic emails about people's tweets. Why would I want an email about a tweet? I'm also hounded by Twitter to endorse people. Now this just means Twitter cannot be trusted for anything.

I rarely get traditional spam, but I have voluntarily signed up for emails and newsletters, which I'll unsubscribe from once they get annoying. For example, does Play.com actually have to send out a notice every other day to tell me there is a sale?

But this is all minor when compared to my real pet peeve: People who take days to answer an email. (And, yes, I can be guilty of this too).

Much of it has to do with people changing their email address. "Oh, I don't use that email anymore." When asked why not, they will often reply, "I was getting too much spam!"

I know someone who swapped his own domain for a Gmail account because he was getting too much spam. How is anyone supposed to get in touch without this knowledge? I waited for a month to hear back.

We need a universal email directory. I know that spammers would use this as a massive mailing list and that is the catch-22, but it is still needed. MCI Mail (back in the 1980s and 90s) worked better than what we have today, so maybe that's the solution. Go back to a more closed system – a club of sorts. You must qualify to send and receive mail, so Play.com cannot send me the same mailing day after day.

Facebook offers some of this, but with a billion users and spammers lurking everywhere, it has no chance of fixing the problem.

A lot of people have resorted to texting instead of emailing but people tend to change their phone number more often than they change their email address. I'm also seeing spam via text messages and nobody wants to go back to making phone calls and dealing with answering machines. I lost the password to my cell phone voice message system and never retrieve them, ever. You can text me instead.

So, all these systems are failing and we must go back to email, one way or another. But how?

For starters, we can make the systems smarter. The email system should recognise whom you normally correspond with and properly filter the messages.

The best example of this is that idiotic blocker system that requires a Captcha code to email someone. I just stop right there and never send the note. The main reasons I get irked by this is because I am trying to respond to a message. You'd think the system would know that instead of asking me to validate myself.

Somehow, we need to make email smarter. It's a goldmine for anyone who comes up with a new idea that works.

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