Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Just a little detail that keeps passing my mind… what exactly does the ‘Junk’ button on services like Google Mail do? Does it just mark the message and its future siblings as junk for me or will it pass on the information and bump the the junk level of such messages a little for everybody else as well?

In a way that latter great ‘social’ picture makes a lot of sense and seems comfortably at home on the current buzzword bandwagon. But I assume that big services like Google Mail (whose junk filter works quite well by now IMO and doesn’t filter out loads of ‘false positives’ as it did in its early days) will have – even need – more subtle approaches for this. If they hadn’t, I guess they’d be game for people signing up for many accounts and then clicking the junk button on their competition’s newsletters say.

But still, let’s assume my clicking the ‘Report Spam’ button actually does report things which will be evaluated in some way. If that is the case then probably the technique for unsubscribing from mailing lists that I’ve been using for a while now may not be too good for the system: Simply marking them as junk or spam.

From a user’s point of view that’s a compelling thing to do. Because all of a sudden you have a single button that will unsubscribe you from any mailing list you just received a message from. With no need to click links, visit web sites, remember passwords or other such nuisances. It’s just very handy.

And while I don’t consider it to be my responsibility to think about what the button clicks I do in my account will do to users of other accounts, I still wonder whether techniques like this one – if used by many people – could worsen the experience for others.

July 16, 2006, 22:05

Tagged as software.

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