Feedback Loops: could they alleviate bad e-mail practices?

Followers of this blog may recall a previous post where I explained my opinion that the war against 'information overload' would only be won by educating users on bad e-mail behavior. Since then I have been reading quite a bit about Feedback Loops. You have probably come across feedback loops before: have you ever seen electronic signage posted in controlled speed zones stating 'Your Speed' along with an output of your speed and possibly your license plate number? That's just one example of a feedback loop. They work like this: you provide personal information to a user regarding their actions which may lead to them changing those actions and thus lead them to better behavior.


I have wondered for some time whether knowing more about how I use e-mail day-to-day would give me any insight into e-mail behavior, both mine and my colleagues, and whether I would be more productive if certain conversations were instead had via other communication modalities e.g. would a long thread with multiple recipients be better held on a community board much like this one or whether a back-and-forth thread with two participants that had been exchanged may times would have been more effective using instant messaging or even (oh the horror!) the phone.


Earlier this year, ToutAppreleased a personal 'Year In Review' allowing Gmail users to scan their mailboxes and get some statistic on their e-mail use such as percentage of people who responded to your mails and percentage of mail you responded to as well as the busiest day of the week for mail. Google themselves have recently announced Gmail Meter (although written by a third-party developer). I am wondering if bringing this type of personal reporting to enterprise mail systems would allow people to get a better idea of their own e-mail usage and lead them into better e-mail behavior along with minimizing unnecessary e-mail bloat by leveraging other communication and collaboration platforms. Let me know if this is something you would like to see in a Quest product such as MessageStats and how you think it would help you and your company.


I'll leave you with a couple of 'Information Overload' LOLs :-)


Joel Blaiberg

Product Manager

Quest Software