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Why Email is a Bad Collaboration Tool

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the the-best-tool-to-use dept.

245

An anonymous reader writes "Isaac Garcia follows up his popular "The Good in Email" article with "The Bad in Email or (Why Steve Ballmer is the CTO of Microsoft)": "In spite of email's universal success (as a collaboration tool), and in spite of its many good traits, email contains deep, inherent flaws that force users and markets to seek alternatives to collaborating via email."

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Amen (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244919)


Email Communications Do Not Correspond Priority
If everyone used Outlook (70% of Central Desktop users use Outlook), then the ability to assign priority to each message would actually work. But we don't live in a Microsoft world (in spite of what many of you might think) and instead, we usually measure and weigh the importance of an email message by the number of people included in the carbon copy. This is highly subjective and fails to address the need to order and sort messages and task by importance.

One alternative is to use ALL CAPS IN YOUR MESSAGE TO IMPLY PRIORITY.
I can attest to that. Send me an e-mail via the Microsoft Outlook Exchange servers at work. But don't just send it regular style, send it in Outlook with the super duper maxi-ultra-important urgent need flag (the little red '!') enabled. Yeah, on top of that, make it required that the user send a response (thank you, Microsoft).

Wait a few minutes ... or maybe an hour. I'll get back to my desk and see a notice that I'm 13 hours overdue to read your message (they've managed to somehow attach a meeting notice to it and insert it in my calendar for yesterday at noon without me knowing) that I missed the funniest super bowl commercial last night. And then put everything in caps.

Yeah, I think I'd pretty much wait for you in the parking lot after work. And I wouldn't be there to give you a hug, ifyaknowwhatimean.

Oh, by the way, my boss has it somehow set to default that it's urgent and he needs a response once I've read it. Same with his secretary. Urge to kill rising ... rising ...

Re:Amen (1)

lbrandy (923907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244970)

Yeah, I think I'd pretty much wait for you in the parking lot after work.

Would it be to prank the Stiffly Stifferson to death with a tire iron?

Re:Amen (5, Interesting)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244979)

Which, in the end, is one of the problems; the Sender sets the importance, not the Reader.

IMHO a simple improvement to email would be no more than twice a day delivery. People would know the corporate email shows up at 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Therefore, if that time has passed, you won't get a reply before the next email dump. This removes the pressure on the recipient, who knows he has at least 8 hours before anything has to be done with that email.

A side benefit is that there is only new email twice a day; when you arrive, and mid-afternoon. No more checking it every five minutes, no more boss yelling "did you get my email yet", no little dings/mailbox flags, etc, going off and distracting you from your job. Go a step farther, and let an intelligent agent apply your rules of priority to the message "has the word "superbowl video", so file it under "never"", rather than the sender's, and some of the issues are gone.

For colllabortion between more than 2-3 people, use a Wiki or Notes. Email should be for person-person, ephemeral, communication.

Re:Amen (1)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245482)

Some of this you can do already with the use of mail filters. I haven't used Outlook/Exchange in some time, but I can do everything that you have described in MS Entourage--only check email at 8am and 1pm for example (I just set this one to see how well it works out, I get distracted by email quite easily) and raise/lower message priority based on sender/content/etc.

Perhaps this doesn't work with an Exchange account, but I can do this all with POP or IMAP accounts.

Re:Amen (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245605)

no little dings/mailbox flags, etc, going off and distracting you from your job.

Worst thing with the "dings": they distract your coworkers too!

Folks, if you absolutely must have an überflashy desktop, please keep it just flashy (visual), but don't add bells, whistles and airhorns (audio) too...

For colllabortion between more than 2-3 people, use a Wiki

Good idea...

...or Notes.

Bad idea...

mail should be for person-person, ephemeral, communication.

... and also for notification that there is sth new in the collobaration wiki. IMHO, change notification e-mails are not a bad idea (if they can be appropriately customized, so that you only get notified of things that are of interest to you): they save on checking on zillions of wikis and forums to see whether anybody replied to your message.

Re:Amen (3, Interesting)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245651)

The mail delivery time idea is quite clever.

In case anyone is interested, here is the setup we had in a little company (now long sold) I setup with friends a while back (I wasn't the one who came up with the idea) to manage the "info" mail account (standard email addresses were still used back then) :

  • any incoming mail to info was dumped to our local news server in a private group we all read;
  • replying to the newspost replied to the mail.


This would let you know who did what and it kept an archive in a platform independent format as well. It was used for other "global" addresses as well.

People could browse news in the same client (Netscape at the time) they used for email, which was convenient. We ran a mix of Linux, BSD, Windows and Irix.

Re:Amen (4, Insightful)

Neil Watson (60859) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245655)

One of the benefits of email is that new mail waits in a mail box for me to look at when I am ready. I take advantage of this by disabling any new mail messages. No flashing, no popups and no noise. That way I can focus on my current task; checking my mail only when I am ready.

Re:Amen (4, Funny)

curecollector (957211) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245665)

For colllabortion between more than 2-3 people

Great typo - seriously. You've inadvertantly invented a term that has accurately described more workplace collaborative efforts than I care to remember. Thanks!

Re:Amen (2, Interesting)

mmalove (919245) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245748)

An interesting idea, but to each their own. Email's great when you don't need an immediate response, or when you know someone is in their office. Not so good when you are trying to track someone down for a question, but that's what cell phones are for, right?

Me personally I try to at least respond to an email asap, but I may not fill the person's request immediately. But everyone has their own service level standards, based on who your customer is and how many responsibilities you have. I think a good twist on your idea would be some kind of autoresponse, not in the form of email necessarily, that would allow you to set the expectations on a response to the email back to the sender, sort of like you can share your calendar in outlook. Something like the profile, but more simple, that indicates when you have access to email, or intend to respond to emails. I'm not exactly sure what form it would take, but that's why they pay the engineers the big bucks.

Re:Amen (4, Interesting)

timster (32400) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244993)

I've just disabled the "priority" column in Outlook, as all it tells me is that the email is from a certain person (who shall not be named) who seems to think that everything is urgent.

The disease I'd like to complain about today is the "read receipt". I can only imagine how much time people waste looking up whether I've read their message or not. You can turn that off, too, but some people really go crazy if they don't get their read receipts.

Re:Amen (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245065)

Yeah, I think I'd pretty much wait for you in the parking lot after work. And I wouldn't be there to give you a hug, ifyaknowwhatimean.

It's better for your carreer and for your outlook (pun intended) in court (due to a lack of witnesses), when you shift the waiting place to the dark corner of an underground parking at 2:30am.

An alternative may be a crouded subway station at rush hour. That would be the more, uh, final approach to solving this little issue.

Read Recipts (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245091)

I have that turned off. You will never know :) And no one can even read my calendar, let alone insert ( except the exchange admin of course, which i am one )

Oh, and if you tag it as important. i ignore it that much faster.

Yes i know you were joking.. however i wasnt...

Re:Read Recipts (1, Offtopic)

chaim79 (898507) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245252)

---- Booth was a patriot ----
WTF?

Re:Read Recipts (0, Offtopic)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245388)

Yes, that is what i said. I wont go into why i say that he was. Done that in the past. I hate repeating myself.

And how the hell does 'wtf' get modded as interesting? Should be a level called 'annoying'.

Re:Amen (2, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245519)

Our local Spamfilter is configured in such a way that it bounces messages containing the header X-MSMail-Priority: high.

Problem solved.

Another alternative would be to greylist them with a delay of 2 days, hehe...

Re:Amen (1)

bicho (144895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245600)

You know, another was is, like, say, write
[Important]

at the begining of the Subject:

(Patent pending)

How hard was that?

Re:Amen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245781)

when i was using Outlook/Exchange at my previous job, i set up a message filter that sent all "high priority" e-mails to a special folder labeled, Do Later. and of course, i turned off the delivery receipt request feature.

Re:Amen (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245786)

Oh, by the way, my boss has it somehow set to default that it's urgent and he needs a response once I've read it. Same with his secretary. Urge to kill rising ... rising ...

Actually, the sender-assigned priority thing works pretty well. I just assume that anyone who sets their own message's priority for me is an idiot or ass-clown and I read those last, if at all.

article is masturbatory and flamebait (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244922)

fire submitter and editor.

Not all bad, just inappropriate sometimes (5, Insightful)

NaijaGuy (844212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244938)

An intelligent user of email considers whether sending an email is appropriate for the communication at hand. That's the way it is with so many tools--they're often misused, but that doesn't mean they don't still have their proper place.

A few problems: (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244947)



The summary states the title of the article as: "The Bad in Email or (Why Steve Ballmer is the CTO of Microsoft)"

Two problems with that:
  1. The title is actually "The Bad In Email (or Why We Need Collaboration Software)"
  2. Steve Ballmer is not Microsoft's CTO...Ray Ozzie [microsoft.com] is (Steve Ballmer is the CEO [microsoft.com] ).

Problem #2 is especially difficult to understand, as the article itself correctly identifies Ray Ozzie as Microsoft's CTO.

Wait a second... (1, Redundant)

cdogbert (964753) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244948)

Steve Ballmer != CTO

Re:Wait a second... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245386)

CTO = chair throwing officer?

Better email (0, Troll)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244950)

Dear OSS community,

please come up with a better email! As a business user I need something that has guaranteed, secure delivery. I don't care how it is done, but that's what I need. If you don't do it, eventually somebody else will - probably Microsoft - and then you'll complain about their implementation and be playing catchup.

Thanks!

P.S. Yes, I know it's difficult.

Re:Better email (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245004)

Print out the email, and deliver it in person. That's the only way you would be certain that it arrived and that no one changed the message.

Good day to you, troll.

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245082)

Good day to you, troll.

I am not a troll.

There is a real opportunity here that I believe the OSS community is missing, which is why I was deliberately provocative.

Image if sending emails between OSS clients like Thunderbird was actually better than using, for instance, Outlook. I could say to my contacts, hey use Thunderbird for your email and you'll know that I've received it. They might then say to their contacts the same thing, and the uptake spreads. Firefox spread because it is better than IE. Thunderbird would spread like wildfire if it could do secure, guaranteed (to arrive, or notification if not) email.

Re:Better email (1)

slashflood (697891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245443)

You obviously don't know anything about email, do you? Thunderbird and Outlook are just mail clients. The mail routing, mail storage and so on is done by mail servers. You can have the best mail client in the world, but if some administrator misconfigured his mail server, you can't do anything about that.

I was working as an IT Manager for years and you won't believe me, how often users came to me and asked me what happened to the email they sent around the world or they were expecting a reply to a mail and haven't received it. 99 per cent of the time I had to explain that the world doesn't consist of only our own mail servers.

Most of the time the "problem" was the user. Misspelled mail addresses and ignoring the error notification and so on.

Re:Better email (-1, Troll)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245618)

Spoken like a true nerd. You, the user are the problem. You sent an email and the person didn't receive it? D'uh! You don't understand how email works! Email is perfect, dumbass! You're the one with the problem!

Re:Better email (2, Insightful)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245470)

pubjames wrote:

Thunderbird would spread like wildfire if it could do secure, guaranteed (to arrive, or notification if not) email.

It can. For many people, it does. Also, you're confusing a client issue (secure content) and an only partially client issue (secure delivery) with pure server issues (guaranteed delivery) which the client should not and in fact cannot address. And that issue is solved anyway, in SMTP, for what, 30-some years now?

Re:Better email (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245777)

Print out the email, and deliver it in person.

That is not a solution to the problem stated.

That's the only way you would be certain that it arrived and that no one changed the message.

Because this end is not the desired goal. This end is knowledge of the delivery status, not guaranteed delivery. The two are rather different.

What he is really asking for is the right to assume delivery, a priori, without evidence of such, but life is, like it or not, uncertain. He might slip and break his neck on his way to hand delivering his message. The people who do best in this world are those who develop viable strategies for coping with things going wrong.

If this life is causing you to drink
Sittin' 'round what's the use what to think
Well I've got some consolation
Give it to you if I might
I don't worry 'bout a thing, becuase. . .

Nothin's goin' to turn out right


- Mose Allison

KFG

Re:Better email (4, Insightful)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245149)

Crap. Crap. Crap.

Good, now that that's out of my system, I'll explain.

Email WITHIN my domain is guaranteed. Honest. If someone (say joe@jupiter.lan) sends mail (to, say, jane@earth.lan), its going through.

If joe@jupiter.lan sends mail to peter@scrape_me.com (whatever), it is rewritten to joe@scrape_this.com, and forwarded to forward_this_shite.net.

After which IT ISN'T MY RESPONSIBILITY. If it can't be forwarded on, it WILL be returned to joe@jupiter.lan. Once accepted, though, I don't care. Not my network. And this makes the world go around.

If there are problems within your LAN or your system, its your responsibility. The original Unix just dropped the mail into the file system. Which is as reliable as the file system. No delivery issues. Linking networks together; as reliable as the linking/forwarding services used.

I can't and won't be responsible for other peoples networking and administration skills.

Ratboy

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245281)


When I phone someone, and there is a problem with their telephone or telephone system, I get an engaged tone or equivanent.

All I'm asking is if I send someone an email, and they don't receive it for whatever reason, I know about it. An engaged tone for email, if you like. And no, the email system does not do this.

Re:Better email (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245318)

And watch your SPAM levels increase exponentially as it's instantly confirmed that your address is valid. This is the kind of address verification that email harvesters/list sellers would kill for.

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245347)

And watch your SPAM levels increase exponentially as it's instantly confirmed that your address is valid. This is the kind of address verification that email harvesters/list sellers would kill for.

Unless of course I could approve notifications, i.e. if a message comes from an address that isn't already in my address book I can choose to accept messages from that address or not.

Re:Better email (1)

nursegirl (914509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245451)

That already exists - read receipts. I always refuse them because I find them annoying.

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245491)

That already exists - read receipts.

No, read receipts are not the same. That is for an individual email. I'm talking about the person it comes from, not the email.

And yes, they are extremely annoying.

Re:Better email (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245761)

Give up already! use IM or phone if you want to be sure the recipient gets the message...

Re:Better email (1)

CrazedWalrus (901897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245568)

Sounds like delivery / read receipts to me, and they've been around for a long time. Some people turn them off. Some clients will return the receipts if the requestor is in the address book.

See - once you add the "if I can approve" it bit, you necessarily forego the "guaranteed" aspect. Hence the problem with receipts. Your request would be to simply re-invent this wheel.

Re:Better email (1)

ratboy666 (104074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245362)

You *only* get that accurately if both parties are in the same switching network. The same administrator has end to end control of the network.

If it crosses networks, no such guarantees exist. But, since a positive connection has an "immediate" result, it doesn't matter. Your "busy" or "no connect" signal may, however, be due to any number of reasons (not just that the other party cannot take your call now).

Email, though, is a step away from immediate results. It can be delivered though severly constrained channels, where immediate communication is impossible.

In other words, use the phone (or IM) for immediate communications, with direct connection feedback. Use email for deferred communication. If you need deferral with a "delivery guarantee", use a common server (tools like wiki, or lotus notes).

Ratboy.

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245424)

Excuses.

All I want is a little red dot next to emails in my sent folder that weren't received by the recipient. I don't think that's impossible. It may be difficult. It may not be to do using the current way email works.

But we'll have it one day and it would be better if it was the OSS community that provided an open way to do this.

Re:Better email (2, Interesting)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245700)

hmm. what exactly are excuses ?
as i saw, ratboy stated that this can not be guaranteed unless all participants comply with common rules or all links are controlled by a single entity.

if all links in an email-processing chain (your mail client -> your computer -> your server -> some other mailserver -> other computer -> other mail client) are working as they should, the message simply will be delivered.

now, wether it will be read... no, read notifications is not a good idea.

generally mail system is supposed to notificate you whenever there is a problem delivering the message - wether it would be unaccessible recipient server, incorrect recipient address, unaccepted content or whatever.

it will usually do this by sending you an email message stating that the message was not delivered and telling you why. in some cases you might get notified immediately, if your server can find a problem while your mail client is talking to it.

once the message has left your mailserver, it's completely the responsibility of other server[s] to inform you as a sender about any problems that result in inability to deliver the message to the final recipient.

phone conversation isn't exactly a good analogy as it's a two-way interactive communication. unless you propose one mail client talking to another, there always will be intermediate servers that will pass the mail, check it for viruses etc.

if you ever get unreliable mail delivery (meaning mail is getting simply lost), that SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. really. contact your administrator, together with him try to find the cause for it. once it is found (you might have to contact destination/sending party), push for it to be resolved.

now, the only case i can think of missing mail (that is not because of some massive network or infrastructure outages that you should be noticing anyway) is spam filters. yes, spam filters that discard messages can cause this, but anyway are controlled by one of the sending/receiving party, thus finding which has snapped the mail and preventing that from happening should be done as soon as possible. and the message itself still must be possible to retrieve from the spamfilter if, for example, it's your organisation's infrastructure that has classified the message incorrectly.

other approach is flagging all the mail and letting it to fall in a separate mailfolder at user's client. that is easy to do with current tools and probably is the best thing to do at your organisation if losing email can be critical and users are sophisticated enough to find the occasional filtered away message (and they have the possibility to set individual thresholds so that one would have more manual spam-hunting to do, other would cope with a mail getting classified incorrectly now and then).

Re:Better email (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245852)

Just ask the person to reply with a "ok i've read it" mail....

You'll see how that's gonna get annoying with time and wish no one would reply just so you know they've read your message...

Re:Better email (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245189)

Hey! I know!

SMTP offers guaranteed delivery. It's a connection oriented protocol. If it fails, it lets you know, and it only fails if the other server isn't there. So the only problem beyond that is that local delivery is misconfigured...not really a problem in software design, is it?
I guess that solves the first problem.

Now to make it secure...Kerberos! That's about as secure as you can get. But how to do kerberos+smtp? What about POP3 or IMAP? Can we kerberize those, too? Maybe we can let MIT take care of it...

Oh, wait, they have! MIT makes it and uses it on their own servers and clients! Did we win? Yay!

Turns out that secure+guaranteed aren't actually hard requirements to meet - that they have already been met before. What people really want is the stuff that exchange provides - which is neither of those things.

However, if that's what YOU want, then may I suggest that you look for it a little?

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245317)

I guess that solves the first problem.

No it doesn't. Emails do not get through and sometimes no notification is given. I don't care why this happens, but it does. and that, quite frankly, is rubbish.

Why do you guys always rush to the defense of email. It's a crappy system.

Re:Better email (1)

kwerle (39371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245642)

Why do you guys always rush to the defense of email. It's a crappy system.

Email is a great system with a few flaws. Gauranteed delivery is not one of them.

Virtually all email programs will let you request a recieved receipt, and that's about as good as you're going to get. You could probably also find an addon that will notify you by sending an image or other HTML element that tracks back to a server that will send you a reciept. I'm sure someone will sell you that solution, too (or give it to you free if you look for it).

But the recipient has no obligation to implement either of those, and in some cases can not.

The bottom line is that if you want guaranteed delivery, email probably will never be your solution.

I do wonder why you sound so bitter about it, though. Is there some specific problem you've been having? My email always does get delivered, and in the odd cases it does not, I get a bounce.

Re:Better email (3, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245706)

I do wonder why you sound so bitter about it, though.

I find the attitude of the OSS community depressing about this subject. They are too close to the technology and can't see the flaws in it.

Re:Better email (1)

richlv (778496) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245765)

what oss has to do this at all ?
silent loss of a legitimate email is a technical problem. solve it, or find somebody who is responsible for your email system. it can be opensource or proprietary, that doesn't matter much as communication protocols are open.

if you have a problem with your car, you probably find somebody who knows how to fic it or fix it yourself. you don't go around crying that cars are bad.
losing emails is not supposed to happen in current email system, so i don't see the point in blaming it as broken in this context.

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245853)

silent loss of a legitimate email...

The system should be designed so that emails can never be silently lost. If an message doesn't get through because there's a problem with the recipients system, then I want to know about it. The fact that emails can be silently lost is a major flaw in its design.

The OSS community could come up with a better solution, but it seems that they would prefer to defend an imperfect system.

Re:Better email (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245351)

Now to make it secure...Kerberos! That's about as secure as you can get. But how to do kerberos+smtp? What about POP3 or IMAP? Can we kerberize those, too? Maybe we can let MIT take care of it...

Oh, wait, they have! MIT makes it and uses it on their own servers and clients! Did we win? Yay!

There is more:

But the moment your message leaves your email host....its a free-for-all for any one to sniff and hack.
Apparently, the author never heard of SMTPTLS, which, incidentally, GMAIL has implemented.

Now, not may mail servers support TLS, but to say that there is no encryption is wrong. I can send and receive emails to gmail and it is encrypted end-to-end from my home network to gmail.

I would argue that the problem with GMAIL is that only the sign-on is encrypted. I don't think anything that is displayed on the screen is encrypted.

Re:Better email (2, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245704)

I don't think anything that is displayed on the screen is encrypted.

Maybe the programmers figured the people wanted to read the mail once it got delivered...

Kerberos can't secure email from snooping (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245525)

Kerberos is an authentication protocol; it only allows hosts on a network to reliably determine one another's identity. It can't (by itself) prevent snooping if the message, or to prevent alteration of a message in transit. The only thing(s) that could reliably prevent snooping would be message level encryption/signatures.

Re:Kerberos can't secure email from snooping (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245599)

Yes, fine, true, but that's the important bit. You can send *anything* over ssl without even hardly trying. You need auth first.

Doing ssl is easy. I suppose it was too much to assume that the previous poster already knew about that...

Re:Better email (2, Insightful)

dodobh (65811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245357)

Use registered post. Seriously. IP itself is unreliable. The Internet is reliable in the sense that the global network does not go down even if some sites (or backbones) do.

Modern email is pretty much reliable. What is not reliable is the "business" need driven content filters which cause mail to disappear.
SMTP is best effort, and that effort is very, very good. End users can make the best efforts of clued administrators fail.

Reject my email if you think it is spam. Don't filter it out, because then I have no feedback (and no, read receipts aren't acceptable).

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245549)

Use registered post.

what kind of an answer is that?

I have posted this plea for better email numerous times on Slashdot and all I ever get is a bunch of responses full of excuses for the current system or reasons why it is not possible or is too difficult.

All I want is a little red dot next to a sent message if it has not been received (or if the system can't tell if it's been received). Yes, I know that there are all kinds of reasons why with the current way email works doing this is problematic. But that's the whole problem. Come on guys, why all the negativity about this subject?

Re:Better email (1)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245819)

Unfortunately SMTP as a protocol is not designed to operate in this way. Email works on the basis of a store and forward system, such that your email may flow through a number of servers to get to its destination. Each of these servers may accept the email without knowing whether the final destination is valid, and then become responsible for forwarding it on to the next hop. There is no direct connection from your computer to the final destination, and no way of signalling the transit of the email, other than sending an email back to you. This used to be done by default in the way of "bounce messages" "Non delivery reports" and "timeout messages". Because of the volume of spam using forged sender information (as sender information is not authenticated in standard SMTP), these are usually turned off, as otherwise you suddenly find your email inundated with thousands of bounces and NDR's etc when someone uses your domain to spam from.

"Use a new protocol then" is usually the response here, but that is unlikely given the number of existing, working, SMTP installation. If spam is defeated, however, maybe you will find NDR's etc being used again. So, in summary, SMTP already does this, but it's disabled because of people misusing a system that was designed when people were trusted not to abuse it.

Re:Better email (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245379)

When I worked at Unisys, we had it with OFISLink (a mainframe-based corporate e-mail system), and they took it away and replaced it with internet mail.

When I worked at NWA, we had it with PROFS/OV (a mainframe-based corporate e-mail system), and they took it away and replaced it with internet mail.

Whose fault is the current situation again?

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245455)

Whose fault is the current situation again?

I'm not blaming anyone for anything. I think the OSS community rocks. It's just this particular problem is waiting for a solution, and nobody seems to be trying to find it.

Re:Better email (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245737)

A pretty decent solution already existed. It's just that folks went with the bandwagon instead of sticking with technology that worked.

That might not be true in smaller organizations, but it certainly was in those two. The mail servers they replaced PROFS with at NWA were a huge step backwards, IMO.

Re:Better email (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245604)

please come up with a better email!
Email is like the weather, everyone complains about it, but no one does anything about it.

Re:Better email (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245656)

Email is like the weather, everyone complains about it, but no one does anything about it.

Too right! Just read all the other responses in this thread. It makes me depressed.

One day someone will come out with a better messaging solution and it will take off like wildfire. But if Slashdotter are representative of the OSS community then it looks like it is unlikely to come from the OSS community.
 

Re:Better email (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245611)

As a business user I need something that has guaranteed, secure delivery. I don't care how it is done, but that's what I need.

Because you don't know how it's done you will not understand the explanation of why that is not possible in this universe.

Perhaps what we need are business users who understand that the universe contains no guarantees and how to deal with that simple fact. Might I suggest the use of return reciepts? That's how they do it with snailmail too. It at least gives you some knowledge of the delivery status.

KFG

Re:Better email (1)

plantman-the-womb-st (776722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245736)

Dear Business Community,

We in the OSS Community understand that you have needs. We have needs too, so it isn't difficult to empathize. We see that you desire custom email client/server software. Well, that will be very easy to achieve. I can in fact give you a great example of how to make this happen for you. Do what I did! It's really simple and requires no special training or even education. What you do is you go to your favorite bookstore (remember to support your locally owned businesses, they like you, are the backbone of your community) and purchase a book on how to program. That's what I did, and it worked great! I started with just one manual, and I was well on my way to having the custom designed audio synthesis software I'd always dreamed about.

Or, you could hire a programmer to do it for you, but you'd lose the rich and fulfilling experience of "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps". Remember, if you're a lazy bastard who expects other people to do things for them out of the goodness of their hearts when you don't even ask nicely, the terrorizorists win.

P.S. If you'd asked instead of insulted, perhaps someone would have pointed you to some OSS that already does what you ask.

P.P.S. Instead, you had to be an asshat.

How many times (5, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244965)

What I mean by silo'ed is that email traps information into personalized, unsharable, unsearchable vacuums where no one else can access it - the Email Inbox. Think of your Email Inbox as a heavily fortified walled garden. Not mentioning the difficulties many have accessing their Email Inbox outside the corporate firewall, the Email Inbox contains a hodgepodge of business, personal and private information that most people do not want to share with others.

Unfortunately, the Walled Gardens of our Email Inboxes are deceivingly warm and cozy. This feigned-comfort of safety whispers into our ears like a wily devil to, "Just email the document to me" or "Just email that document to yourself" with the false-belief that it will remain safe, secure and locked away. But that is just it......its locked away so that NO ONE ELSE CAN ACCESS IT. This is counter-culture to team collaboration.

And how many times have you sent out a document for comment and gotten back 30 different versions with markups, which you then have to reintegrate into one document and somehow handle inconsistencies and overlap? Then of course you need the document, but don't have a copy where you're at, so you retrieve one from an email and use that, but it's an old version, so you have to recreate revisions. And then someone always emails you their revisions late, after you think you're all done (usually it's your boss, so it's not like you can just leave them out).

If nothing else, you need a document collaboration tool, to avoid this nightmare of multiple files, and email is not it.

Re:How many times (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245372)

It sounds like what you need is a sane workflow. A collaboration tool will certainly help, but you've got other issues.

The Real Problem (4, Interesting)

Atomm (945911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244971)

I believe the problem with Email is usually only 10% of what you are trying to communicate is actually understood.

Sort of like posting on slashdot..... :-)

Re:The Real Problem (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245080)

Could you explain your post further? All I got was "the."

Re:The Real Problem (3, Funny)

snarkh (118018) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245216)

He said something about Salshdot replacing e-mail.

Re:The Real Problem (4, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245104)

I believe the problem with Email is usually only 10% of what you are trying to communicate is actually understood.

Sort of like posting on slashdot..... :-)

I know your joking but you're absolutely correct. This is a very serious problem with e-mail and why using the phone should be prefered over it. You see, when you're speaking to someone face to face or even over the telephone a lot of the information is contained in the delivery. Your body language and intonation help to create context and help the message get across to the listener.

E-mail, by contrast has none of this. Writing an e-mail that your audience will understand first time - both in tone and in content - takes considerable effort and skill. E-mails are often not considered fully. Hands up if you've sent an e-mail quickly and realised the tone of the e-mail makes it sound very hard and demanding? I suspect most of us have!

Because writing clear e-mails is difficult, people often resort to writing bullshit instead. The idea being is that if you can bedazzle the recipient enough with your buzzwords and other pseudo-words that they feel inferior and are unlikely to ask for clarification.

Why do we need software to collaborate? Humans have always collaborated best when sat around a table talking to each other. In my opinion, the software solves a problem that would be better solved by taking the time to see each other in the flesh.

It may be expensive but it's less expensive than getting it wrong and ruining the reputation you had with your client.

Simon

Re:The Real Problem (1)

Crizp (216129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245622)

You see, when you're speaking to someone face to face or even over the telephone a lot of the information is contained in the delivery. Your body language and intonation help to create context and help the message get across to the listener.

E-mail, by contrast has none of this. Writing an e-mail that your audience will understand first time - both in tone and in content - takes considerable effort and skill.

It is possible to convey "intonation" in text - using italicised and boldfaced text. It's just a shame "normal" users don't understand the text-only _italic/underline_ and *bold* markups. Also, using descriptive phrases such as "$subject - this is imperative" and "$subject - can be downprioritised" is helpful.

The only problem I see - as you point out - is that people can neither write nor read a properly structured sentence to save their lives.

Conflicting statements? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15244991)

From the article:

The single worst trait of email is that it's silo'ed.

Then he says:

For many folks, the Email Inbox contains their most intimate secrets all mashed together into a single location: business correspondences, contracts, proposals, reminders, tasks, love letters, indiscreet online purchases, dirty jokes, pictures of your spouse (and kids), time-wasting games, inappropriate messages from co-workers and friends and lets not forget spam.

To me it seems like the perfect argument for why email should be silo'ed, and that it's one of the reasons why it is still so popular. I completely agree with his comment that there is a wealth of information hidden within emails that others could/would find useful. However, there obviously is even more that most would find useless or that the inbox owner wouldn't want visible. To me email represents the best, if flawed compromise. If the inbox owner wants to, they can redistribute their emails to a wider audience. This can be done by forwarding, or in Outlook, simply dragging the email to a public folder. I think the alternative approach, assume that everything is public and force the user (either sender or receiver) to selectively "hide" or "target" emails falls too far on the "other side" for most companies.

ObFamiyGuy (-1, Redundant)

tdemark (512406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15244992)

From TFA:

Unless both the email Sender (you) and the Recipient are using Digital Keys/Signatures, the contents of your email are about as secure as Imelda Marcos in a shoe store.

<obStewie>
Ha ha ha! Oh gosh that's funny! That's really funny! Do you write your own material? Do you? Because that is so fresh. You are the weakest link goodbye. You know, I've, I've never heard anyone make that joke before. Hmm. You're the first. I've never heard anyone reference, reference that outside the program before. Because that's what she says on the show right? Isn't it? You are the weakest link goodbye. And, and yet you've taken that and used it out of context to insult me in this everyday situation. God what a clever, smart girl you must be, to come up with a joke like that all by yourself. That's so fresh too. Any, any Titanic jokes you want to throw at me too as long as we're hitting these phenomena at the height of their popularity. God you're so funny!
</obStewie>

IM (or IRC) and Wiki (5, Interesting)

fak3r (917687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245003)

In development over the last 5 years I think the most useful tools are IM (or IRC) and Wiki. Email can be used to setup a time to meet/work on things, from there constant talk back/forth via IM is perfect. Hashing out overall ideas via the Wiki is perfect for before and after, and allows for ones ideas to get fully out there, then edited by others during critque.

This has been true for me working on OSS at night with a partner in Qubec as well as working in the same office with a developer two aisles away.

crock of shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245007)

What a retard.

Isaac Garcia? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245026)

wow, a mexican jew. I'd met one before, but they're rare.

You need to check your copy-paste functionnality ! (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245048)

"The Bad in Email or (Why Steve Ballmer is the CTO of Microsoft)"

Except the article says :
Therefore, we'd like to present The Bad In Email, or Why Ray Ozzie is the CTO of Microsoft.

There's a bug somewhere... maybe bad RAM, or buggy software, maybe between the chair and keyboard (if your chair hasn't been thrown away by Steve, that is) :)

Undelivered mail, return to sender (5, Insightful)

Odiumjunkie (926074) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245061)

A fairly insightful article, but it misses a couple of points:

It's difficult (if not impossible) for the average user to discern who an e-mail is actually from. Most people have no idea about message headers or IP addresses. It is trivial to send e-mail spoofing the address, and have 95% of people unquestioningly believe it's from the address you specify. This is one of the biggest and easiest to exploit weaknesses in e-mail.

E-mail is incredibly easy to ignore. Really, really, really easy. Claiming you didn't receive an e-mail is a get-out to any number of problems in collaborative projects, mostly because it's so common - it's fairly easy for an e-mailto not get to its recipient, be it an over zealous spam-filtering policy, a misconfigured mail server somewhere along the line or a lack of space on a company intranet (combined with badly configured mail servers which are relatively common).

Re:Undelivered mail, return to sender (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245155)

Yup - it's not only a convenient excuse, but legitimate.

Unless I'm running an online business, I certainly don't approach my email as if I have to look at every hour on the dot. Sometimes I even let it sit for a week at a time if I'm not expecting anything.

If someone has something important to say, call me.

And conversely, if someone has something trivial to say (telemarketers, etc), email me so my spam filter can kick in.

Just because email is convenient doesn't mean it should be used in all situations.

Re:Undelivered mail, return to sender (1)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245471)

Part of the fraud problem is the simplicity in the client display. If Outlook Express and Thunderbird sometimes said "Hey wait a minute there's more to this...", instead of rigidly sticking to displaying an address, the problem would be mostly avoided.

Fortunately anti-phishing is becoming a buzzword.

Re:Undelivered mail, return to sender (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245832)

I don't know if they ever fixed this in Outlook, but I remember getting a grumpy email back in college from one of the manager-types in Computing Services there. They were complaining because I was masking the "To" and "From" lines in my emails. I was perplexed initially.

Then it clicked. For fun, I was using Elm's ability to add arbitrary headers to each email. I figured anyone geeky enough to look at the headers might get a chuckle at some geek humor stashed there. Well, among the fun headers I added were "Apparently-To:" and "Apparently-From:". All the other email clients seem to ignore those if actual To: and From: lines are present. Outlook, on the other hand, gave the "Apparently-To" and "Apparently-From" precedence though.

That was 10 years ago, so by now it's probably fixed. Or maybe not...

--Joe

I don't know what happens where the author works.. (1, Informative)

Rinzai (694786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245096)

...but where I work, we aggregate critical business requirement documents and estimate spreadsheets in a common location, and we expect that anything of consequence will be done in them, not in e-mail. When I have a software issue to resolve, I communicate with the Business Analyst via e-mail, so siloing occurs, but the BA is the locus of all requests, so he has a trail of everything that was sent regarding the project. I don't see what he communicates with the Project Manager, because according to our internal security rules, I'm not allowed access to that information. (Put another way, if they want me to see it, I'll get it in e-mail, or see it in one of the central documents.)

Where's the problem, again?

Scare Tactics (4, Informative)

RedHat Rocky (94208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245132)

"If you are using POP or IMAP, you need to know that they both require you to send unencrypted authentication (username/password)."

Ah, not necessarily. Especially in the IMAP world, see IMAP over SSL.

[insert story about linux box and IMAP/SSL/MUTT]

Here's the real problem: You tried to scare your audience with concepts that your target audience doesn't understand. You can't scare ignorant people, see low limit Texas Hold'em.

Re:Scare Tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245288)

Low limit Texas Hold'em is fun. Why be sour because you suck at it?

Lots of ill-minded arguments in TFA :( (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245152)

Some great quotes :

Email is NOT Secure (Part 1)
[...]
(Anyone using cryptographic e-mail is in the minority and the exception to the rule.)


Anyone needing secure e-mail is in the minority and the exception to the rule.

there is no way to 'retract' your email.

And how are you retracting your mail ?

Email is Prone to Viruses
There is no need to elaborate here.


You should make an effort. I do not understand.

Let me guess (0, Troll)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245163)

MS has a product that will completely solve all these problems....

The Al-Queda e-mail method for collaboration (2, Interesting)

gordonb (720772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245217)

There is a way to use e-mail as such a tool, which was the preferred method used by the Spanish Al-Queda cell:

1. Open e-mail account (on your own web mail server, preferably) and publish username/password to members of cell/department/workgroup.

2. Write e-mail detailing plan and save as "draft."

3. After connecting by SSL, other co-workers/conspirators view and edit draft or attach comments for all to browse and update.

4. If server is owned by group, files are as secure as the passwords and OS. If a public/commercial server is used, drafts and connection IPs may be discovered and will persist on backups and logs.

This is offtopic.... (3, Insightful)

szembek (948327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245240)

Part of this article drives me nuts, and I see the same crap in /. comments all the time:

2. The data is often 'NSFW' (Not Safe For Work).

Why did he use the acronym if he defines it directly after use. The only reason he should do this is if he used 'NSFW' elsewhere in the article, which he does not. The writer should decide whether he feels this acronym is recognizable enough to use without a definition. If it is then use it, otherwise don't!

Fixed:
2. The data is often not safe for work.

Re:This is offtopic.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245425)

If you are going to fix his writing fix it all the way, the word data is plural. Fixed: 2. The data are often not safe for work.

Re:This is offtopic.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245771)

Not in standard American usage.

HH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245596)

(Here Here!)

E-mail R.I.P. (1968-1999) (2, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245241)

E-mail will have been dead for close to a decade in 3 years. Yes, we all still use it. Yes, it is a primary form of communications for anything over 30 miles. And yes, the horse is dead but we'll still beat it.

I stopped using e-mail as my primary form of communications almost 7 years ago (about the time I started using SMS en masse, combined with instant messaging when available). For me, e-mail is no different than TV, radio and telephone -- all technologies that should have been replaced eons ago but for whatever reason have been held back from evolving.

I agree that e-mail is a terrible collaboration tool, but considering when it was "invented" and how few real iterations of change we've seen with in, I don't expect it to ever blossom into a truly useful tool for productivity. I would have to guess that while e-mail is more efficient than a fax or a letter, it is not a telephone replacement, nor is it a replacement for even a simple post-it note. The only collaboration-friendly element of e-mail is the idea that it leaves a log or an audit trail of exchanges, but it is missing all the other important elements for group-think or idea creation.

I believe the future of connecting everyone within a group to one another plus incorporating outside groups into the "conversation" will likely come out of a different technology than e-mail. I see great possibilities in RSS and XML as a platform for long term collaboration, and the Wiki idea is a step in the right direction. Combine both with a tagging feature and incorporate more than just text, and you have a mess of protocols that together can really make a difference for building and sharing ideas. Maybe a little slashdot-style user-modifiable open-view moderation, too. Before any protocol or format can be created that really is the end-all solution, we need the underlying platform to be finalized. We need the Net available all the time, everywhere, at low cost (commodity-priced) and at high speed. I believe that the EDGE/3G networks are getting us closer (I am typing over an EDGE-connected T-Mobile link now), but we're not there yet. When information can be accessed immediately, when notifications can become part of the data stream, and when the ability stream your thought into a final product with anyone else, I think we'll see that product that many of us are waiting for without knowing it.

I've given a lot of thought to collaboration tools of the future, and I know exactly what I want. I just know that even if I implemented it today, most of my workers, friends, co-writers and readers would not be able to mesh with the Wiki-XML-SMS-Slashdot-tagging tree with the speed that I would think is necessary to make that collaboration better than a simple whiteboard and a boardroom.

Another few months, maybe. A few years, for sure.

One more reason (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245258)

Overzealous spam filters. I've recently tried to send PDF and JPG files to some people, and failed. The recipients' ISP's filters blackholed either the attachments or the entire message. Nuts!
Another intended recipient has a local spam filter that somehow checks the messages while still on the POP server. This takes bloody ages, causing the transfer to time out. Lather, rinse, repeat. As a result, he has to use a webmail client to receive large messages.
And then there's Outlook's inability to receive executables. Yes, I know viruses blah blah blah, but there are times when I've a legitimate reason to send someone an .exe. Being able to tell Outlook "yes, I know what's at stake, show me the damn attachment anyway" would help.

I'm not impressed by the article (5, Informative)

Old Man Kensey (5209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245382)

The article starts off strong, but it has a couple of glaring issues that makle me question how qualified the author is to actually be talking authoritatively:

1. "If you are using SMTP (the universal pipe, remember?), you need to know that it doesn't encrypt data/messages. If you are using POP or IMAP, you need to know that they both require you to send unencrypted authentication (username/password)."

None of these is true. Encrypted SMTP, POP and IMAP all exist and we've been using encrypted POP/IMAP where I work for over two years now.

2. In the discussion of encrypted e-mail, he jumps straight into certificates with no acknowledgement or apparently even clue that PGP/etc. exist and are a lot simpler to set up and use (even in Outlook, or even manually if you have to).

3. "Eudora Security Flashback: I still don't know what the hell Kerberos is and what it has to do with a dog much less my email?"

Considering that this guy is, judging from the content of his post, very Microsoft-centered, for him to not know what Kerberos is suggests he is not even close to any kind of expertise in the field.

4. "Most companies spend a fortune locking down their IT infrastructure. This results in either Total Lockdown, also known as Paralysis whereby no one can do anything without a password, passkey, keycard, signature and sign-in sheet; or in No Lockdown, also known as Free-Love-Utopia whereby everyone is equal because everyone is an Administrator."

Um... no? He says "This results" as though these alternatives are the only two possible. This is probably just sloppy writing, but it still sticks out at me.

5. "If everyone used Outlook (70% of Central Desktop users use Outlook), then the ability to assign priority to each message would actually work. But we don't live in a Microsoft world (in spite of what many of you might think) and instead, we usually measure and weigh the importance of an email message by the number of people included in the carbon copy. This is highly subjective and fails to address the need to order and sort messages and task by importance."

I know from personal experience that Eudora among others had the capability to set and recognize a Priority or read-receipt header as long as 10 years ago. Priority fell out of favor because of abuse by spammers, but it does exist. And that was valid for any message sent to or from anyone on the Internet. Can we trust Outlook's read-receipt and priority flags to be as portable?

6. "Its still challenging for multiple people to share business email accounts (i.e. support, bugs and sales messages). IMAP sort of works, but presents its fair-share of limitations."

Such as? How could IMAP be better? Given the inherent needs and limits of sharing what is essentially a file folder, I think IMAP is designed about as well as it can be. There could be improvements, but nothing I can think of that would make me go "wow! It's a whole different IMAP!"

7. "Email is Prone to Viruses - There is no need to elaborate here."

Yes there is, because (say it with me!) E-MAIL IS NOT PRONE TO VIRUSES. E-MAIL CLIENTS ARE.

There are some good points in this article, but you have to filter them out from the sophistry.

And a good Collaboration Tool is.......? (3, Interesting)

ChaseTec (447725) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245389)

I'm going to be starting on a spare-time open source project pretty soon and was wondering what people recommend for collaboration. The biggest project I worked on was the jboss portal server(previous version) and communication to developers(non-jboss employed at least) seemed to be mostly by email and forums. It was a little hard to know for sure if someone else was working on the same thing as me until a cvs commit. All the jboss guys I delt with were really helpful, but because of some of the reasons outlined in the article I kind of always wanted a better way...

Thankfully the new project I'll be working will have 2 main developers in the same city so we'll actually have some sit down sessions but so far almost everything is in email. What are good collaboration practices(the article mostly just said email sucks)? For software I'm currently investigating gforge [gforge.org] with the wiki plugin. Does the slashdot community like wikis for collaboration between developers on software development projects or something else? Does all this really get solved when you have a dedicated project manager? Should your collaboration tool also be your project management tool? Any good project management tools(esp. ones that combine collaboration software). Thanks!

Article is full of lies (4, Insightful)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245420)

Not surprisingly, for a PR puff piece, the article is full of lies. The most egregious is this one, though:
If you are using SMTP (the universal pipe, remember?), you need to know that it doesn't encrypt data/messages.

If you are using POP or IMAP, you need to know that they both require you to send unencrypted authentication (username/password).
In fact, SMTP offers a number of secure alternatives, included TLS within an otherwise unencrypted pipe, or SMTP/SSL on port 463. POP and IMAP both support TLS for 110/143, as well as POP3S/IMAP4S over 995/993, and have not required plain-text login since the introduction of capabilities negotiation more than a decade ago -- both of them support a version of the AUTH verb. (To give you a sense of time, the relevant RFC's were published before Netscape developed SSL v1, back when sending creds over the wire in clear text was completely standard.)

The guy's trying to sell something, but it would help if he could sell things without lying about them.

LKML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245423)

Would be a perfect proof of email being a fine tool for collaboration. People have found innovative ways to *express* themselves _effectively_ using email. Most of the Linux kernel development happens over LKML and they haven't yet gone to find other effective ways of collaboration.

My biggest problem with E-mail.. (3, Insightful)

Sqweegee (968985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245565)

Most senders I've received E-mails from assume I received and read the mail within 5 minutes of their sending it. Scheduling a meeting for 20 min after sending the mail notification is rediculous, or sending it right at the end of the workday (or later) and assuming I'm so eager to read it I access my work E-mail from home. If its that important PHONE ME! Just because you sit all day at your desk with your E-mail open doesn't mean I do, two way communication is the only way to confirm a message is received.

Not surprised (3, Insightful)

jalefkowit (101585) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245589)

Winston Churchill once said [uga.edu] "Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." You could say the same thing about email as a collaboration tool -- it sucks, but for the average user it sucks less than every other option.

  • IM? Most IM clients don't log messages by default, so things can't be easily searched or retrieved unless you know to turn on logging (assuming your client even allows that).
  • Wikis? Each wiki has its own arcane markup syntax, and the average user has better things to do than learn them.
  • Intranets? Somebody's gotta post stuff to the Intranet, or nobody will use it... and nobody wants to post stuff to an Intranet that nobody is using.
  • Web calendars? Slooooow.
  • Project management software? Using tools like Microsoft Project successfully requires a level of discipline and expertise that is beyond most people.
  • And none of the specialized services that have evolved to fill this niche (Basecamp [basecamphq.com] , for example) have a mental model that's as easy to grasp as e-mail.

None of these objections are so large that they can't be overcome; many people use the tools above successfully. But for the average user, who accepts defaults and isn't interested in learning a new skill just to organize a meeting, they all have flaws that outweigh the flaws of e-mail.

I hate collaboration-by-email as much as the next guy, but until we can come up with something that is an order of magnitude better for the average user right out of the box, we shouldn't be surprised if they keep shooting e-mails around. (sigh)

YOU FAIL IT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15245595)

In time. For all

Doesnt have to be true (1)

illuminatedwax (537131) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245652)

Outside of fictional characters in Cryptonomicon, I'm not aware of anyone else using encrypted email and digital signatures.

(Anyone using cryptographic e-mail is in the minority and the exception to the rule.)

It doesn't have to be like this. My mother runs a counseling service and I installed gpg and a plugin for SquirrelMail - and now my mother, my father, and yes, my grandmother can easily send encrypted mail back and forth. And we have to, if we want to discuss clients over email and stay HIPAA compliant.

Sysadmins, install gpg on your servers, and let everyone set up a key pair! It's ridiculously easy these days to install basic cryptography into email now. Thunderbird even has great plugins.

What about BCC? (1)

bepolite (972314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15245793)

Why is BCC so bad? Because someone else makes a unilateral decision to make you a *secret* recipient of an email. I never know if it's ok to acknowledge that I got to email or do I have to play dumb if one of the *real* recipients talks to me about it.
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