an open letter to google’s gmail team

Dear Google,

I love gmail. It helped me regain control of my inbox at a time when I thought it was a lost cause. Labels, starring, priority inbox -- tools that helped revolutionized the way I filter information.

It's 2012, now, and I'm sad to say that I'm losing control of my inbox. The problem is spam. Every day, it fills to the brim with messages from vendors -- some of which I've used, and some of which I haven't, who think they have a legitimate reason to be emailing me. It's not your fault -- it's theirs, and mine. It's theirs, for operating under the assumption that my doing business with them is implicitly giving them permission to e-mail me every fucking day. It's my fault for doing business with companies that operate like this, but such is the world we live in. I know you have the "Spam" button, and while perhaps those messages do wind up in some deep, dark basement of Google somewhere where they actually analyze them, most people are hip to the fact that it basically does nothing. It's a placebo. Pushing it will make you feel better for a short while, but eventually you realize that it's doing nothing. I've been trying to unsubscribe from the AFA's newsletter for around 5 years now.

Sure, I could take some time, every day, to go and "change my e-mail preferences" or "opt out" -- most of which only serves to confirm for the spammer in question that you're getting their e-mail. I could painstakingly create filters for each of these vendors/messages in the klunky filters interface.

What I want is a "spam" button that actually does something. Give me a button to push that says "you will never see mail from this company ever again". I ran a spam-filtering service for years -- I know how hard it is to filter junk from mail without false positives. What's not hard is filtering out mail based on a certain sender or keywords. The functionality is already there, but the interface is useless. I realize that attempting to manually filter out unsolicited messages one by one is a futile gesture, but at least give me a futile gesture that works. It's like being caught in a zombie apocalypse and being armed with a pistol full of blanks. Sure, I'm gonna die anyway, but at least give me the satisfaction of taking down a few zombies before I go. The "Spam" button is a joke.

Give me control of my inbox! I'm a big boy. I can handle it.

Sincerely, cwage.

PS: to anyone else reading this, if you know of a google marketplace app or chrome extension or anything, really, that makes this process easier, please let me know!

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  • Jeff Esterby

    The problem with clicking spam (which is not your problem and may actually incentivize you to click it more) is that when idiots (not you) click that it’s actually very damaging to the people/companies sending the emails.  Which is fine if you are legitimately getting spam from “V14GR4″ type places – but if you sign up to receive email from someone and then click the spam button on them when they send you email then you (not you) are just a dick.  That’s what unsubscribe is for – and if you are too lazy to click through that process then don’t sign up for anything ever.   Most email marketing places only allow you to have a 0.1% spam rate (1 spam per 1,000 emails sent – give or take) and if you go beyond that threshhold then you can get blacklisted from sending shit and it’s a pain in the ass to get back on the other side of that.  So when lazy people (again – not saying you) click spam they have no idea what a headache they are creating on the other end of that.

    That being said I hate email marketing too and I wish everyone would just go to hell!

    • cwage

      There are a few problems with this:

      1) As mentioned above, many companies consider “giving us your e-mail address” to be the same as “consenting to get email every day”, which is bullshit, even if it’s in their shitty fine-print. They can go fuck themselves. It’s spam.
      2) I agree that clicking “Spam” is damaging to some portion of legitimate e-mailers, which is all the more reason we should have another option that affects nothing but *my own e-mail* and verifies that I alone will never fuckin see that e-mail ever again.

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