The hassle of email (as compared to RSS)

February 26, 2006

In my recent 'give me RSS feeds' entry I wrote in passing '[...] these days email is just too much of a hassle'. Which it is. Let me illustrate how.

To subscribe to new mailing lists these days I need to:

  1. figure out how to subscribe
  2. make up a new email address to give the list
  3. go through a multi-stage subscription dance
  4. make sure our antispam filters won't eat the list messages
  5. adjust my filters to put the messages somewhere distinct
  6. remember to check and read wherever I dumped it

In short, a hassle. Add bonus hassle if I ever want to unsubscribe to the list; often it's simpler to just kill the address. (Sometimes it's the only way out.)

A lot of this is due to spam. Some of it is due to vendor abuses of trust (leading to spam). Some of it is just because I no longer have any interest in sorting my inbox by hand; the volume is too high and my time is too short.

(Is it any wonder that reading mailing lists via newsgroups, especially newsgroups that someone else runs, is popular?)

Compare this to RSS:

  • feed readers are good at showing me just updated feeds.
  • feeds come pre-sorted from each other.
  • subscribing to an RSS feed is easy.
  • unsubscribing from an RSS feed is equally easy.
  • I don't have to give you any information to subscribe.

It's sad to offhandedly write things like 'email is just too much of a hassle', and then realize that I mean it. It shouldn't be like this; it didn't used to be like this. But it is like this now. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Written on 26 February 2006.
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Last modified: Sun Feb 26 00:49:37 2006
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