Tell me what you like or hate about email.

@liw I like the non-immediacy of email, I can sent it and not worry about the timezone of the recipient, nor how busy they might be.
This also stretches to the time it takes to write an email, I often take my time to craft them, stopping to research points before making them. This is because I expect these messages to end up being circulated more widely, or to live a long time.
(especially work-related email, to customers etc)

@liw I don't often hate email, unless people are sending one-line replies that add no actual value ("ooh, thanks for that" sort of comments).

@liw Like: It's established, somewhat mature, reasonably asynchronous and has a client/server environment suitable for "longer" written communication.

@liw Dislike: A lot of things that are requirements *today* (encryption/security, privacy, rich media content/formatted messages, ...) are essentially just bolted on top of a plaintext protocol, with a bunch of more or less severe consequences.

@liw I'm unsure if better "evolution" of e-mail would have been able to avoid most of the current messenger approaches that are "a thing" these days (marketing aside for a moment).

@liw We like it because it's standard and ubiquitous, but we hate it because it has become an unreliable method of communication, mostly due to bad anti-spam policies.

@liw I like that it's a decentralized service with no institution that decides who may or may not have an email address. It provides weak identities. I like that it's almost ubiquitous (though supposedly in decline).

I don't like that there's a de-facto oligopoly of email providers who make up new rules.
I don't like spam and abuse, and I see the conflict with the first statement.

I'm reasonably happy with the tools I have, but I don't usually attempt to use encryption.

@liw I love the old fashioned epistolary qualities. Emails can be long or short. Personal or formal. Often tends to be more expressive perhaps due to the text-oriented simplicity. So much of my private life over the last 25 years has involved email.

The data is usually robust and understood by tons of applications / libraries. It survives all kinds of crashes, upgrades, migrations, etc. And despite IMAP being perhaps the original "cloud" service, copies usually stay on our PCs.

It is easy to backup emails.
Mailing lists are easy to archive and stable for collaboration.

You can search and review mailing lists. They are precious history record for past few decades.

@liw Things I don't like:

- Configuring email servers is complex (but not some heroic thing as some contend).
- Filters (and custom address / extensions) are essential today if you want to sort for context / urgency but many people don't use them because the interfaces for sieve etc. are not well integrated. IMHO this is the main thing that makes people hate email.
- Threading is a kind of unreliable afterthought. It would be good to have something more consistent.

[0] + I don't have to see everybody else's email just to check mine
[1] + Full flexibility on length & formatting & attachments
[2] + Asynchronicity & disconnected operation that work
[3] + Multiple accounts are supported & comprehended
[4] + Providers are neutral, commodity entities that don't come with a "community" or "identity"
[5] + Choice of desktop & mobile clients
[6] + Subject lines
[7] + Data portability that works
[8] + Unrelated messages from one sender stay separate

@liw people who don't read the full email but send a completely wrong one-line reply from a mobile device... for that reason I classify my counterparts in "management" (needs a call to action in the first few lines) and "tech" (can be trusted to read the full message and understands inline comments)

@liw Would like to see filtering/labels/folders be better adopted by popular clients and be less of a geek thing.

Would like to see PGP public keys perhaps become discoverable through an optional extension of the protocol and/or more loosely coupled via something like ".well-known/users/:id/public.asc" on the domain.

@liw I'd also like browser or OS vendors to provide (or allow 3rd parties to provide or self host) and encourage by default to use anonymous email addresses for anything you hand out. See and

@liw I hate that mail clients keep insisting on treating filing cabinets full of paper as their principal design and operational paradigm, and not projects or relationships.

@mhoye @liw yeah i'll second this.

gmail got a lot right by making tags a first-class object and dispensing with folders as such. the idea that individual messages are like physical pieces of paper that can only live in one place at a time (as opposed to things in a database with many properties and relationships) is way too limiting.

(i'm also miffed that i haven't found any clients that do this part as well as gmail did when i was using it.)

@brennen @liw Gmail is really all over the place. Tags are great, search is OK, the secondary tooling is tolerable and the editor is a crime scene.

@brennen @liw I would kill for synonym-search. If I had a conversation about cars, say where I mentioned “automobile”, you know?

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Lars and friends