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back to article Gmail inbox experiment auto sorts 'important' messages

Google has battled back against the dreaded "information overload" with an experimental revamp of the Gmail inbox. Trumpeted Monday on the Google Enterprise blog, Priority Inbox is an alternative view of your Gmail inbox designed to focus your attention on "your most important messages." The beta offers filtering algorithms that …

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Anonymous Coward

just

Just because I havn't opened an email doesn't mean that the information isn't important, I get a few dozen emails a month that I simply scan the subject of if it says "blah shipped" I move on if it says "There was a problem with your order" I click on it. Both are equally important a if I don't see a "blah shipped" for a while I know I need to get in touch with the store.

Oh well, as long as you can turn it off and it isn't landed on you like bing.

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Silver badge

I think there is a difference in importance

"There is a problem with your order" is very important and requires immediate attention

"Your order has shipped" is of moderate importance and you can deal with it later

Your email newsletter subcriptions and adverts that you have consented to receiving are not important. It doesn't really matter whether you read them or not, but you will when you've got nothing better to do.

Spam is a nuisance and it would be better if you never saw it at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Google listening to its customers?

Does this "inbox experiment" also enable the optional turning-off of the infuriating Conversation Feature?

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FAIL

Google never listens

I second that one...

the conversation feature is a major pain in the neck. This was one of the biggest complaints from users when the chair warmers in charge decided our company would switch to hosted G-Mail.

Google when asked about this feature more or less said ".. conversations make e-mail easier to use, you will get used to it, we will not change it"...

Be prepared for this new feature to make e-mail even easier to use.... <../sarcasm>

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Thumb Up

maybe

but I set my Outlook inbox to Conversation view and was glad when I saw GMail uses it. Likewise with Mail.app

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Bronze badge
Grenade

But what is the answer to SPAM?

I add a third vote to the comment that spam is the #1 problem with email and if Google is sincere about offering GOOD email services, then they would STOP delivering so much of the garbage. Even with a false positive rate of 1%, you feel you have to check it. Last month I think I had two of them, including one message that was moderately important.

However, I also agree with the other comment that Google has stopped listening to their users, though he left out the 'gone evil' part of it. I'm still wondering what I said to offend 'the Google'.

If Google was actually listening to scum-like-us, then I'd suggest they use this new feature to help fight the spam problem. Obvious approach would be to use the priority sorting feature to make sure that probable-spam gets put in a special really low priority queue, where some of the settings would prevent it from ever being delivered. For example, the default option could be for their system to automatically gather up the undelivered-but-probable-spam from many accounts, and once there were 10 matches, all of that spam would go straight to the bit bucket--do not pass go, do not screw with any company's reputation, do not support the spammers in any way, and do NOT bother me with this tripe.

Actually, I might prefer one-step above that for a human in the loop... For the sake of safety, I'd like the system to collect candidate spam and then wait for human confirmations by volunteers. Let me explain this version with an example: Imagine that Google has queued up 1,000 probable spams of the same category, with a very high similarity metric. The 1,000 recipients would have an option to confirm deletion of that category, and as soon as some small number of them, let's say 5 people, confirmed that it was spam, then all 1,000 pieces of spam would be evaporated and the the other 995 people would be saved the hassle. (Perhaps more importantly, if there was one sucker in there who might have been fooled into sending the spammer money, this could help prevent it from happening.)

My conclusion? Spam is NOT a law of nature like gravity or evolution. We humans defined the rules of the game that the spammers are playing--and we can fix the game to make spamming a much smaller problem. I don't think we can cure the kind of sociopath who sends spam, but I think we can encourage him to crawl under a different rock, hopefully a much less noticeable one.

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Seriously....

Does no-one actually remember when Hotmail and Yahoo were the only real providers of free email addresses? Even with other ones I've sometimes ended up seeing about 50 spam mails come through in a single day. Also, nothing wrong with conversations.

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@Shakje

I've never used my gmail inbox. Never publicised the address. It has something like 4000 spam emails in it, not counting the ones that were actually marked as spam.

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Anonymous Coward

Google urging people to be more asleep at the wheel

While it's interesting technology, and arguably useful, it's also seductively dependance-inducing and so something of an obvious lazy maker. And as such, in sue-happy-stan, a lawsuit waiting to happen. Do I have to spell that one out? Think about it.

Personally I'd much prefer if google's webmail would do proper threading. Notwithstanding micros~1's consistent insistence on reinventing the wheel incompatibly with the standard and therefore everyone else's method to link related messages together. So my preferred email client can make and break links to fix what others' intelligence insulting-software and ignorance broke. And I do use that feature a lot.

Similarly, tags and groups seem very convenient, but IME the most effective way to organise emails is to keep no more than, say, ten in your inbox. The rest gets filed in topical subfolders, threaded together. That actually closely matches how archiving using (physical) maps works, instead of colour-tagging lots of loose sheets of paper shuffled in many small piles then leaving them to clutter on your desk.

As such, nice ideas and all that, but they're poor reinventions at best. Admirable advanced trickery to make it work notwithstanding.

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Explains POP outage?

Is this why the Gmail POP3 service was apparently down last night?

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FAIL

6 per cent saving = a week each year ?

So they reckon that people spend SIXTEEN WEEKS each year sorting their email ?

Spank my ass and call me Susan, no wonder nothing gets done around here.

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FAIL

Google advertiser spam to the top then?

That is all

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Big Brother

Improving the quality of the user experience

and taking notes on the emails you read, for our adverts.

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Not just Google Apps

Your report seems to say that this is only for Apps users - in fact Google's blog entry says it's for all GMail users - "Priority Inbox will be rolling out to all Gmail users, including those of you who use Google Apps, over the next week or so".

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JDX
Gold badge
Alert

So harsh...

GMail already has _very_ good automatic algorithms for spam filtering, and they are very good. The fact it lets you train it means it could work great, algorithms are the area Google is strongest in after all.

Also, conversations are a great feature. If you don't like them, why should Google change things - it's hardly difficult to find someone else that doesn't use this.

I'm cautiously excited about Google pushing in areas it knows about, rather than messing about on social-networking.

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conversations

to be fair, if a business is paying Google for email service and they don't want conversation view it's not very good of Google if they don't even give an option to turn it off.

though I do like it myself.

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revolution?

or is Priority Inbox just a re-run of the spam filter with different parameters?

Plus, I want to be first to say that Opera had self-learning filters many years ago :) Though I never really trusted the Opera implementation.

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But the musak is driving me knutts

Together with this new 'feature', and I use therm with big double-scoop sarcasm, there is an annoying - can't be turned off - bug. The gmail page now plays honky-tonk musak if you use The Grone browser!

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chrome problem

Priority mail using chrome plays music now :-/

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FAIL

Spam Spam Spam

I think Google's been trialing this for about a month now. All my most important email now ends up in the spam folder!

Yep, that includes people in my contact list, replies to messages I've directly sent (both within the google apps for domains system), all sent through the google servers!

Luckily I get almost no spam to my email, so the only method of getting around this is to set up a filter so that _no_ email is treated as spam! Lovely!

I'm glad that I'm not paying for this!

-Tim

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conversations & spam

free advice to google here:

1) make conversation view optional (it is a truely borked feature)

2) autocreate a whitelist from contacts (probably does this, but would be nice to be sure)

3) Show email which are not in contacts (a truely trivial feature to implement)

4) use better spam filters (like 6 dnsbl chained together (not forgetting to use whitelists) plus other measures). They must see spam very clearly with that many inboxes...

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Search

No real problems with conversations, and I've set up priority emails today, so see how that goes, but the biggest failure I have with GMail is the search facility:which is frankly crap, not searching for substrings for example

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