October 9, 2012

an open letter to google’s gmail team

Filed under:, , , — cwage @ 2:26 pm

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!