Tuesday, May 27, 2008

E-mail Decrepitude: "You'll have to speak up, I'm getting old and a bit deaf"

I've noticed more and more that people are responding to e-mails without having read them properly - either this is the ever advancing attention span deficit disorder, or else people are so overwhealmed with the sheer quantity of e-mail (that is, people that still use this obsolete technology) that they don't have time to absorb what was originally written. This response is, of course, counter productive as it generates more email for the sender, and then for them.

I propose a simple rate limit per to: field implemented in all MTAs. In fact, there should probably be two.

Rate limit 1 is an overall limit to the rate one can generate messages from a given
O/R name (sorry, posh, X.400 old fashioned terminology for originator or from:).

Rate limit 2 is a mean+peak (i.e. leaky bucket) rate applied to To: fields from a given from: one can trade between rates so that the sum of means is no more than rate limit 1, but by going slower to some people, can go faster to others for "chatty" conversations. Perhaps a check on the length of the email could be based on typical reading/writing speeds to make sure that the "new text" in each message is a plausible product of the interval since the last message...

This is not intended as an anti-spam technology per se, just a help....

of course it could be implemented by recipients to some extent but only if they collude

Reference: Deaf Sentence (novel) by David Lodge (2008).
See also a recent article in the
Intl Herald Tribune of all places, which seems to make some sense

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