Why email sucks

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I like email. Take my phone instead, please.


Yes it sucks, but it sucks about 10 times less than a the alternatives.


yeah – the thing is, it doesn’t suck.


The guy has a point. I’m on one list that’s jam-packed with ninnies who hit Reply to All to add, “Me too.” It never occurs to them not everybody needs to see their “Me too,” especially if their mail reader isn’t threaded.

But there’s no simple solution, and the solution would have to be simple, for the ninnies.

It’s funny. I never realized email sucked, but then when I leave the office I don’t take my work email with me. And I’m not expected to. And when I am at work email is the ideal way to get fast, but generally thoughtful, responses to complex questions. It also means I have a written record of a conversation.

And when I say “fast” I don’t mean “instantaneous”. I know people who are expected to answer, or even just read, their email immediately on any day at any hour, and their livelihood depends it. In their cases it’s not email that’s the problem.

Side story: I used to send faxes to a French company that would type their reply at the bottom and mail the fax back to me. When they first got email they printed the emails, typed a reply at the bottom, and mailed them to me. It took a few months for them to realize the “Reply” function was a better alternative.


This article at least touches on the right point in all this ‘email is the devil’ bull. It’s the people.

As long as people don’t change their ways, it doesn’t matter what replaces email (or powerpoint, or any reviled software), it will end up just as ‘bad’ as email is now.

I also can’t wait for the eventual deluge of “we got rid of email, yay! but now I have to constantly check a dozen separate apps and services to keep up with things” articles.

Get off my lawn I guess.


To me, as a programmer e-mail is actually unstructured communication waiting to be refactored into several specialized tools. That’s what tech-savvy people actually do : looking for a schedule that meets everyone’s agenda ? Paste a link to a doodle. Problem with software ? Open a ticket. Order something ? Have an online shop with a shopping basket. etc. What remains should be only what deserves free communication, like sharing memories, ideas, whatever brings back the joy of actual conversation.

Biggest problem is that we just focus on the ‘T’ in ‘IT’; if we really want to move forward, IT people should be more knowledgeable about human communication theory, instead of launching that extra “e-mail killer app”.

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Email doesn’t suck nearly as bad as the gifs in that article.


I couldn’t agree more. The constant motion out of the corner of your eye is infinitely more annoying than email.


It’s not email or any other technology that is the problem, it’s how you deal with it. I suppose turning it off is a solution, but I prefer to learn how to use it properly. Learn to write some rules and decide what is important and not.


Here’s what makes email the most reviled technology ever…

More reviled than voicemail?


It would probably be worthwhile to note that Stewart Butterfield is the man behind the ‘email killer’ app Slack, so he might have a bit of an agenda here (or, it could be his motivation, I guess, YMMV).


There’s at least help with those.

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Came here to say that, and saw that you already said it, and said it so well. Cheers.

And really, that’s a very well written comment; I bet people appreciate your emails! :slight_smile:

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I work in Tech. I have a number of clients (mostly financial services) for whom email has become completely useless internally. This is because there is such a level of noise that it becomes extremely challenging to filter it out. Email clients make it possible for sophisticated users to set up rules and filters, but in many places they are disabled, prohibited, or users find them too difficult to set up. As an example, I was working last year for a brand name retail and commercial bank and the email account on my provided laptop got between 700 and 1000 emails a day - 99.9% of which were automated notifications, messages from management, reply all spam, etc.

In those cases IM and similar are the only way to communicate - but the reaction of many large orgs is to ban those too.

Email functions fine in my small company, but the issues in large organizations are 100% of their own making.


My first thought when I read the headline was “Is this going to be a Slack plug?”

App developers are the only ones that ever say that everyone hates email as a technology. Most people hate the people that email them and the emails they receive, but not the vehicle…


There’s no fundamental problem with email.
Sounds like this guy needs to learn to use filters and labels.

Slack and email are nearly identical in a not-too-abstract sense.


Jeezus. Man I am at a large aerospace company and even though a contractor I have to use the company laptop we don’t get even a 1/10th of that some days nothing. I used to get a fair amount when I had break/fix duty as ticket notifications would come in via email but that was easily filtered out by rules and was the best way to have an audit trail but still not more than 60ish on a Monday morning after weekend SQL things set off all kinds of alarms/thresholds and the group managed some 10000+ servers.
Our email admins would get after anyone sending out that much automated email with a very big hammer.
Heck even my actual employer email account which basically gets announcements only we get basically one or two a day, if that.
If the company has that much crap coming in every day then the phrase ‘You are doing it wrong!’ comes to mind.


For my personal email, I recently went through and unsubscribed to a lot of the automated email promotions that I was finding annoying. That has made a big difference in how useful that account is for me.

I work in technology and one of the biggest issues I have with tech is that we are always wanting to invent something cooler, smarter, faster, but there are so many people who cannot adopt and adapt to something new. Email works. Everyone, even my 80-something mother in law, knows how to use it at a basic level at least. Everyone has an account. And that’s its beauty.

Go ahead and try to reinvent something that works so well for all levels of users. That should be your goal, tech person.