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[Comments] (2) : Still on email cleanup duty (which tonight involves burning 3 DVDs of spam for a researcher). And I've got all these emails that I let sit around because I didn't have 5 spare minutes to reply and say "thanks" or whatever. Some of these emails are months old (haven't gotten to the year-old ones yet).

I feel self-conscious because I never seem to be on the receiving end of these emails. If I send email to someone and they don't respond within, say, a week, they never respond. And I know how it is, believe me. I've moved on with my life. (Still curious though; if you've got an ancient email from me in your inbox that you intend to address someday, feel free to confess in an anonymous comment.) But how do my repliands feel getting a response from me many months late? Does it even help them out? Do these people still have whatever little Beautiful Soup problem they emailed me about, or have they moved on too?


Posted by Jonathan Riches at Fri Dec 14 2007 06:10

Replying after months is only slightly more considerate than never replying at all, but at least it lets the person know you're being inconsiderate out of absentminded apathy, and not because you hate their guts.

I hate email, because A. messages often get lost or spam filtered or end up in a trash can of a mailbox that hasn't been checked for five years, and B. no one feels an obligation to respond to it because they can pretend what happened was A.

Posted by Rachel at Fri Dec 14 2007 06:11

I have the same problem and I am doing the same thing. Cleaning out my inbox is another one of my "goals" before I leave. Only rarely do I get replies to emails I sent months ago... I can't think of a specific instance but I know it has happened once or twice, and I have never been expecting it. Every once in a while, say every month, I go through and file all the emails I haven't responded to that don't require a direct response because I think it's better not to answer than to, at that point , and if it's someone I feel like I should email I start an new email on some pretext. This works well I think. But at the bottom of my inbox are calls for papers I keep meaning to come up with ideas for and emails from people for whom I have promised to do things... The emails are my reminders but sadly I never see them because they are buried under "so and so has written on your wall..."

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