Google has shocked the tech world by letting Gmail users "unthread" their inbox — i.e., turn off the tool that was billed as an email revolution when Gmail launched six years ago, but ended up as an infamous annoyance that undoubtedly hampered uptake of the service among all-important business users. With a Wednesday blog post, …
I originally hated "threading"...
...especially the way gmail implemented it; now, I'm so used to it, and find it so useful, that I can't imagine turning it off. I guess it takes all kinds. At least we GET a choice.
I admit it
Threading has grown on me, it would have been an excellent feature to have as an option. But as a mandatory "feature" (which is more like a limitation, really) it was very annoying at times. IMHO what they should really do, instead of burying the option in the settings menu is have a simple one-click toggle right in the inbox. Both views have advantages and disadvantages so I would love to be able to use both and switch at will.
Mark my words...
Unthreaded GMail will be a requirement for a new feature within (shakes magic 8 ball...) 11 months.
I have in the past missed work due to threading combined with a client sending several emails on different topics under the same thread so this will be fantastic - I don't need the original email attached underneath a new one, I have brain and within it a memory - plus the reply probably has the entire history in it anyway.
Threading / conversations need to be better implemented ...
Currently, I am actually digging around various outlook plugins to address the whole threading/conversation issue.
Neither gmail nor outlook get this right ... the issue is with the superflous messaging with replies of replies of quoted replies etc.
Ideally, you want a single message that represents one 'conversation' of all emails in a conversation with the most recent one at the top. Otherwise, regardless of threading / conversations, you end up with superflous emails. Of course you want it to handle branching e.g. you get replies from different people to the same email - and you want attachments preserved - but you don't want the same stuff repeated over and over.
Extra points would go to have the ability to be able to click on a message in the conversation and get it presented as an individual email for reply or forwarding at that point of the conversation (with or without preceding history).
Threading / conversations are great ... but they don't really get rid of the issue of too many repeated (quoted) email messages.
There I fixed it for you
>Threading / conversations are great ... but they don't really get rid of the
> issue of too many people who haven't got a fecking clue how to use email
> Ideally, you want a single message that represents one 'conversation' of all emails in a conversation with the most recent one at the top.
That's almost what Google Wave did.
"Conversational" threading isn't threading
I can't wait for this craptastic googlism to go away. I love threads. Threads show you messages entering at various points in the conversational hierarchy. Threads allow you to forward messages to just those you want. Google just munges the whole damn thing together 'cause that's what you really wanted, right? Do threads the right way and they're wonderful. Do it the google way and they're crap.
A lot of posters here seem to miss the point. And perhaps they have been drinking too much of the Apple Kool-Aid. Let me explain. This change is about choice. You personally might think that threaded conversations are the dogs bollocks. On the other hand, for someone else's particular use case they might really not work. For example, for me at work, I get a lot of machine generated e-mails with identical titles, I don't want or need those to be in an enormous thread with many thousands of entries. I want them in a folder where I can find one by a particular day. Other people have other use cases - many amply described here. What Google have done with this feature though is provided choice. If you think you can't live without threading, then go ahead and carry on as before. If you can't live with threading, turn it off.
It is a principle that Apple refuse to believe. Take the iPhone. I find I can't use an on-screen keyboard. My typing rate is about 10x below that on a physical keyboard (and I'm talking about a miniature keyboard on a phone). That means I can't own an iPhone. Other manufacturers give me choice - I can have a Droid X or a Droid 2 for example with Motorola. In my case I would get a Droid 2 because of the on-screen keyboard thing.
Microsoft have recently denied people choice with the Ribbon interface as well. Personally, I've finally decided I like the ribbon interface, but for many users it is still a nightmare. They should really provide you with choice.
I don't get this whole argument over whether threading is better. Surely the obvious answer is that it depends on the user and the situation? I find it a nightmare when I'm trying to locate an individual message from a thread, where previously I would just glance down the inbox and find a message instantly if I knew the rough time it was sent.
Also, I don't see why threading is even necessary if you have mail organised into folders (or using labels in Gmail). But I accept that it's useful for some situations and some users find it better suited to their needs. Horses for courses. Google have done the sensible thing by providing the option to turn it on or off at will. This is what all developers need to be doing - putting choice into the hands of the user rather than dictating what's best for them.
"A lot of posters here seem to miss the point. And perhaps they have been drinking too much of the Apple Kool-Aid. Let me explain. This change is about choice...."
What was the point of that, other than to provoke? Childish.
"It is a principle that Apple refuse to believe. Take the iPhone. I find I can't use an on-screen keyboard. My typing rate is about 10x below that on a physical keyboard (and I'm talking about a miniature keyboard on a phone). That means I can't own an iPhone. Other manufacturers give me choice - I can have a Droid X or a Droid 2 for example with Motorola. In my case I would get a Droid 2 because of the on-screen keyboard thing."
It's not even the same fucking thing! To use the tired vehicular analogy; it's like complaining that Ducatti don't make their bikes with 4 wheels, because **you** can't ride them if they only have 2 wheels! In both instances you have a choice. In the first you have exercised this by, wait for it, NOT BUYING AN IPHONE!!! No-one other than you, not even Apple, are stopping you from using an iPhone! Besides, why on earth would you need to type more than 10WPM on a fekkin' phone?! In the second instance, the choice is to buy a car...
Someone has been drinking too much "kool-aid".
I suggest you lay off the pizza and sugary drinks okay.
You're on an IT website that's being read principally by people working in the IT sector.
You don't seriously expect them to advocate 'choice', do you? Half the people here probably get kicks out of telling their staff what they can't do, rather than what they can, and there are few types of people on this earth more set in their ways than those in IT. 95% of the replies here are either for or against.
I am sorry, if you can't fucking read the email in front of you, it's not gonna matter which version you use in the long run.
I like threads ...
but I prefer the way Mutt displays them, which is not that different from the way groups.google.com does it, if I recall correctly: display a tree with messages at the nodes and the children ordered according to the newest message in the corresponding subtree.
If you're having a discussion by e-mail you need an easy way to find the replies to a particular message, and to find the messages to which a message is replying. Basically you need the tree structure. (Strictly speaking it's a DAG as you can write message that is a reply to more than one message but people don't do that very often.)
Mac Mail ftw!
Mac mail highlighting of other emails in a thread is great and would be easy for gmail to do. It helps when someone sends an associated email but one which isn't in the thread - i.e. find another email sent at around the same time as one in the conversation.
It would also be nice if within a conversation the email date was in a clear column so it's easy to read.
Google in historic fail
"Threaded" view as well as various other views existed well before outlook. What killed gmails reinvention of same was probably outlook's broken handling of email by insisting on their own homebrew reinvention of "threads" and (probably deliberately) failing to support In-Reply-To:
My own email client lets me make and break thread links at will. More people should be weaned off of outlook and exchange because it fscks up email for everyone else. Then again, detecting outlook (and, incidentally, hotmail) is a good clue filter. Users of outlook cannot be expected to spell halfway correctly nor have a working grasp of grammar, nor can be expected to properly quote and trim quotes in their replies. Meaning they're massive wastes of time anyway. With gmail the relationship is much less clear-cut. We'll see what happens next.
The worthiness of a human being is determined by their choice of email client
Not everyone chooses their own email systems
Ever thought that some people may not like Outlook, but may be forced to use it by their employer? That might make their employer's IT managers gormless, but it doesn't say much about the skills of the users.
Breaking the circular reasoning
Employers that force this on their employees do not tend to retain the people that can do better. People that stick with the default because they do not know any better also do not know any better than to write fscked up emails. And for some reason are quite impervious to all suggestions on how to do better.
I recall a certain CFO that demanded I dump the FOSS IMAP setup for sexchange Right There And Then because he'd gotten fed up with the long standing problem that his outlook express didn't deal too well with pst files with 10k+ emails in them, something micros~1 documents for a change. They say that the upper limit of usable is around 2k emails. We had already told him what the problem was. He would not hear of it. sexchange was the answer! Nevermind that he was literally the only person left in the company with a micros~1 email-client-like-substitute. Even the rest of his CxO chums were over to thunderbird, and the rest of the company was a mix of just about everything including a large contingent of linux-using developers. sexchange was the answer! sexchange was the answer!
This CFO is of course an extreme outlier, but this basic lack of clue is endemic for those choosing of their own free will to not use a better client. For those who don't get to choose, they don't get to thrive in a clue-rich environment, so there's no incentive to get better. And every incentive, for those who already know better, to find greener pastures. And then a while later he demanded the very same thing again. And I found myself greener pastures too.
Yes No But
Yes to threaded SMS, no to threaded email, but it's great to have the choice.
BTW, I'm one of those annoying people who keep EVERYTHING in my reply to help CMA
Paris 'cause she has a beautiful A :-P
I'm an idiot
Because for me threads do not work, I kept getting the wrong email on the wrong thread all the time on Gmail, and found it utterly confusing, having to stop and think every now and then, where the fcuk is that email I need.
This idiot likes his emails in an orderly time line and in reverse order, newest at the bottom, older at the top. For that I must be an email moron, but thankfully now a happy gmail moron.
Do you call that "reverse order"?
Do you normally read emails bottom-to-top too, then?
NEWS HEADLINE : People are DIFFERENT !!! Who would have guessed??
always amazes me the people who post saying "how could you do with/without it"
ever occur to you that your way of doing it might not suit another person? a little thing called personal preference.
at least the choice is there now.
however that said , you are all wrong and i am right !
Tech dweebs extrapolating from own "likes" to rest of world?
Boy, could the 50% of you commenters who just say "well it works for me!" as if to imply "so it must be ok", could you all just bog off under a stone somewhere? (That'd work for me!!!) As one AC said, there should always be choice between such approaches, cos you know like, there are pro's and cons to both, and people are different, so millions will prefer one way, millions the other.
Taking away the choice was, well, evil.
And who cares about your personal preference, dweeb!!!
So linked list management is not one of Google's strong points.
The rather simple idea that email is *exactly* like a newsgroup is not just simple, it's *simplistic*.
Google's net news function is strange to use. it's no surprise rolling it out to normal email is when you think about it *dumb*.
People often have *multiple* conversations with the *same* person.
Some of those topics *share* an email. OMG!
Some prove irrelevant and you don't want linked in after a while (might want archived?).
Probably quite a good idea for people with well compartmentalised linear thought processes.
Like Google developers?
I'm for choice
Nope: was getting it with Lotus Notes god knows how many years ago. Mostly I like threading, and I wish I could have it in Thunderbird. I suppose it might be because I am so old I can remember when we used to be able to find letters and carbon copies of the replies filed together.
I'm still occasionally tempted to get out that old Notes client disc from office days (V 5, I think). It was my favourite mail client.
BTW: Am I the only one here who has never used Outlook, thick,thin, light, heavy, or whatever form it may come in, ever, in any version at any time? Do I get an award? :)
BTW: Am I the only one here who has never used Outlook, thick,thin, light, heavy, or whatever form it may come in, ever, in any version at any time? Do I get an award? :)
Unemployed or Self-employed?
For some reason businesses love Outlook, especially when paired with Exchange... though it does have its uses when you need to read someone else's emails (open other mailbox).
Never used it outside the office - never will.
Unemployed or self employed? Neither, then!
When the company got around to a domain name and a mail server, I pushed for Lotus Notes and won :)
The company's file servers and business app servers were Unix, so, happily, there never was an assumption that the mail server would be anything to do with MS.
Anyone else out there think that the polarity of views on threading expressed in the comments to this article is exactly the sort of thing Google is aiming to address through this change?
As it happens...
that would be the same benighted attempts at "improving" dejagoogle that have given it A Name Of Pure Evil in usenet circles.
The reasons I see are mainly "trying to 'own' the medium", for great advertising of course, but not so much stopping holy wars. A good mail client will offer multiple *useful* ways to sort email. The key being *useful*, not *invented by google*, which is what *google* is all about. Aw shucks, they gots NIH. google is all grown up now.
You call that threading?
To be honest, I never realised that was Google's attempt at threading. I just found the layout annoying because it hid everything. In pretty much every decent email (and news) reader I've used, threading displays subsequent replies indented beneath the original in a tree view. You can immediately see which emails belong to which thread, and also see and access individual emails without any extra effort. This also supports sub-threads within threads. To me, this is the natural and obvious way to handle email, and it's been the norm for me since RISC OS email apps back in the 90s.
I've never liked Google's implementation of this however. Why can't they implement proper threading, with a decent tree view?
Everybody is the same
They want what they are used to - it has nothing to do with personal preference just entrenched habits.
Unless you are forced to by work or other circumstance you will use the email client that most fits what you are used to. Same with any software, just ask Microsoft.
That must be it, I like cider better than beer because of entrenched habits....
Well thought dave 46! You solved a worrying human mystery
Choice not always good
It's a pretty solid principle that giving non-technical users too many choices isn't always a good thing, let alone giving them exactly what they ask for.
If every new way of doing things was implemented as a choice between new/old ways, nearly everyone would play it safe and the new ways wouldn't get used. If your company believes it really has an improvement, forcing users of your product to use it isn't a terrible plan - they can always use an alternative product if your vision turns out to be wrong.
For instance many people here have said things like "I prefer ribbon now but I initially hated it"... if it was an option those people would have turned it off and never found it actually was better (to them).
Also, didn't Outlook get threaded functionality in 2010? I'm sure I read it somewhere, maybe on El Reg actually.
Conversation threading is a feature it _is_ reasonable to make optional, but the principle of making _every_ innovation optional is not, your app will end up too complicated for users to manage all those options and they won't ever give new innovations a fair try.
I used Outlook at work, and got used to that, and found Googles flavour of e-mail a bit counter-intuitive. Was sometimes difficult to find what I was looking for in Google, but I got used to it. I will unthread though, as soon as I can. However: A few years ago, they made us stop using Outlook, and now we are forced to use IBM Lotus Notes. Oh my God does it suck ass!!! It drives people to tears, we remember the good old Outlook days, and we tear our clothes and throw ashes in our hair, but to no avail, they (Our overlords) won't let us use Outlook! We even set up a sneaky POP3, but they found it, and shut it down. And warned us not to try a stunt like THAT again. The second time we got rumbled, they got a bit nasty. Haven't heard anything for a while, perhaps they have given up on our little corner of the empire...
And this is worth 2 pages of comments?
All must be well in the world if this is what we're arguing about today :o)
I liked "Conversation View", it's the only real innovation in email since its inception.
Most hotly debated feature?
Personally the most useful feature I could have would be the ability to actually MOVE mail into different folders.
i.e. have an inbox, and a number of different folders - default view inbox, and then have an "all" folder I could click on to show everything. I don't want anybody who comes over to my desk to see every single message I've received in the "inbox". Sometimes I want to file away messages once I've dealt with them. I know there's a "hide" feature where you can make saucy e-mails from your girlfriend disappear but it would be easier if you could have a separate folder for each girlfriend and file away the message there away from the default inbox.
I think the posts in the comments here highlight why people in IT arn't very popular with more or less anybody. Even Lawyers and bankers are more likely to get invited to dinner parties becouse at least they might have some interesting stories!
Threaded mail is teh worst!
Nao Threaded mail is teh best, only newb retards would think it was teh worst!
You stupid threaded is teh worst you has no brain.
Why you want choice?! You can't use thread, you dumb!
Google converxsation not proper thread they need to do it like dis!
Wot you say? Conversation is best thread!!
I don't mind Conversation view - aside from Mailing List e-mails in which I can follow the thread.
At work, I use the "Search Folders" in Outlook a lot due to the volume of mail. I've found its easier to have the mail come into the Inbox as unthreaded (but in date order) and have the Search Folders filter out different views. The ideal on that is that the same e-mail message could appear on different views - depending on whether it was Customer Related, to do with a particular quarter of the year, Friends and Family or to do with a particular document I have written.
so gmail is out of beta then?
seriously, send a newsletter out and see how many conversations appear, many of them.
next they need to fix:
allow domains to be white listed
do not file email from ppl on address book in spam folder
better spam filtering.
show in inbox the addresses not in the address book.
Not sure how to feel about this
Threaded email conversations... yuk - that never worked for me.
However, with my Droid HD2, I've started using Gmail to backup my SMS's and that's a fantastic thing and even better with threading. I hope we can selectively thread / unthread based on labels.
I'm not saying whether I hate threading or not there, but there is one killer. People often pick a random email and reply to that rather than creating a new one for a new topic. Going through emails randomly to pick out requirements/details/etc is time consuming.
The ability to order things in the way that helps me to do something (e.g. by date) is a fairly fundamental requirement of pretty much any UI. Anything that forces a one size fits all is pretty poor, give me something that I can choose that best meets my needs at the time anyday.
Wouldn't be great if you had to click a box which said something like: Send all the previous replies and original e-mail along with your reply? Yes/n ?
And then: Are you really sure? Yes I Am Sure/n?
And perhaps even: Positive? Yes I Am Positive!/n?
Gmail was amazing when it first launched! Then Google invented the Delete button! And now, being able to view all your emails in ORDER! Truly revolutionary. Well done Google. What's next...? Maybe some kind of magical 'preview pane'?!
Like most good things...
Sometimes the threading is great, sometimes it's a hindrance. It kind of depends on who I'm e-mailing, and the nature of the emails. Nice to have a way to turn it off for those occasions.
Threading - ON or OFF
95% of the time, threading is actually useful - I like it, it's handy when it comes down to the "he said, she said" details, times, dates, part numbers etc...
But it can also turn into a REAL fucking pain in the arse, when the thread gets a heap of messages in it, and I only want to view and print out ONE of them...
A choice in these circumstances IS appreciated.
t i .... hm .... t l e
Choice is great for the l00sers, thanks google!
I use FunDaBird for my gmail, thank you very much and have had that feature for quite some time!
If I needed threaded view...
...I'd sort by subject.
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