Posts Tagged ‘version control’

Email Branching – It’s time to put an end to the madness

Posted in Computers on October 17th, 2007 by chris – Be the first to comment

One pet peeve of mine that has been increasing over time is when an email is sent with all the various information and someone in the list of people that received it decides to respond to the second or third latest to the chain, thus throwing the flow of the conversation out the window. I’m not sure if this is a common practice in a lot of companies, or maybe only specific types of people, but I would be curious for someone to comment on this and explain what they see. For example and generally what I’ve seen, let’s say an email went out involving four people for either a specification requirement, questions on a project, issue that came up, or anything. I’ll try and break this down so its easier to follow

  1. Initial email sent from chris to adam, stacey, jamal
  2. adam responds to chris, stacey, jamal
  3. chris responsds to adam, stacey, jamal
    1. stacey responds to only chris because she forgets to reply to all
    2. jamal responds to adam’s email from bullet 2, completely ignoring chris’ email from bullet 3
  4. chris responds to stacey’s email reincluding adam, and jamal. chris also answers the question from jamal since adam is a tool and will only forward it on to someone else anyhow
  5. chris finds out more info and responds to his own email still including adam, stacey, jamal — at this point we’re about back on track and the previous email is kept so nothing is missed
  6. jamal, as if he’s living in the past, sends another email replying to bullet 2, not the email he already sent to bullet 2, to adam, chris, stacey and now also includes jessica

More often than not, say 7/10 times, it goes further downhill from there. If an attachment becomes involved then it turns into a disaster, without fail. I can understand that people get a fair amount of email but this is senseless. I sometimes wonder if those people do it deliberately so if something gets screwed up they can blame it on some “miscommunication” in the email to cover their ass.

Much like source control I wish there was an option to require the server to not allow and email to send if there is a more recent version. This would probably be easier to accomplish if this was all on the same domain email server but I’m not here to work out the technical details at the time. If people followed a few basic rules to emailing conversations would take less time and be more meaningful. I think those include:

  1. Always respond to the latest email, even if you sent the previous one. Send a follow up response to that so the entire chain is kept in tact.
  2. Make sure to include everyone that should be on the email. But if you’re going to send a response that should be private then make sure you choose the right button. I’ve seen it happen.
  3. In the case of files, have a share on a type of file server with a version scheme in the name of the document. In this case if it does need to be emailed the version can be referenced instead of something abstract such as “from the email titled ‘newest doc’”. I’ve seen this happen too.

Am I asking too much? Is it out of line? Thought of a way to have people to follow rules? Let me know.