Can a Gmail Tool Make Us More Considerate Email Senders?
If our friends, family members and contacts knew that we were drowning in unread emails, would they wait until the madness died down to send us email? Courteous.ly, a new service for Gmail users, hopes that the answer is yes.
Courteous.ly is the product of a new research project at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing. It was developed to make email inboxes more socially considerate spaces.
GiveCourteous.lyaccess to yourGmailaccount and it will analyze your email patterns, the state of your inbox, your unread message count, total messages and your sent mail volume to determine your current level of email traffic.
The service provides you with a link to share with friends or include in your email signature. That link will direct contacts to a page that indicates whether your email load is low, normal or high.
You can specify what Courteous.ly measures, and you can have the app instruct senders to put [whenever] in the subject line to reach you at a more opportune time, once your email load has gone down. You can also tick a box so an email that contains nothing but a one-sentence question in the subject line jumps right to the top of your inbox.
The upshot is that email senders will respect your time with brief, one-sentence emails or messages sent at your convenience. You will, in theory, then reward the sender with your complete attention and a response.
“I think we’re really good at the etiquette part when we have the cues that allow us to be polite,” Georgia Tech Assistant Professor and Courteous.ly developer Eric Gilbert says. “Courteous.ly helps manage expectations and lets people choose to send mail when it’s best for you.”
Could this simple solution to a very common problem actually make us more considerate email senders? Gilbert will be monitoring users’ accounts over the next several months to measure the tool’s actual impact on email loads.