Saturday, March 21, 2009

Don't push that button!

The good folks at Gmail are very concerned about sending emails that shouldn't be sent.

Some months ago they announced "mail goggles" -- basically a pop math quiz that can be set to appear whenever you propose to send an email in the middle of the night (sadly, there is no equivalent application for telephones).

They've also come up with a "forgotten attachment detector" -- basically, when the text of your email says 'please see attached' and no file is, in fact, attached, this little feature asks if you might be forgetting something. This is something I've done from time to time: I'm trying to send a document... but I hit send before attaching it. I never used the Gmail option though: I just send another email. Usually with 'oooops' in the subject line. Colleagues or clients will accept this from me because I'm old. They figure they should be grateful that I no longer insist on using semaphore instead. Sometimes I still insist.

The latest geegaw offered for paranoid Gmail users is an "undo send" option. This tool is for those who push send and then realize -- yikes! -- the message has been sent to the wrong person.

These gaffes can be quite serious. Just last year, a Philadelphia lawyer intended to send an email about settlement negotiations in a big case to Sidley, Austin lawyer (and co-counsel) Bradford Berenson; the email was sent instead to New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. The Times (genuflection optional) ran a story about the possible billion dollar settlement -- a story which panned out earlier this year when Eli Lilly announced it would pay "$1.42 billion in a settlement and fines to resolve state and federal allegations that it illegally marketed its anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa."

Of course, even with this new "undo send" feature, an emailer has only five seconds to realize that a blunder has been made and push the button. The email might escape into the ether before the sender fully comprehends the error that has been made.

Better, perhaps, to rely on a consistent practice of checking everything before clicking "send." Better still, I think, to keep lawyers away from email, especially lawyers from big firms who had become accustomed to having underlings doing the typing and the sending.

I wonder if that guy in Philadelphia wants me to teach him semaphore....

6 comments:

Dave said...

And don't forget the dreaded "reply all" You really have to pay attention to who the all are.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

only five seconds? not nearly enough for my slow brain...

smiles, bee
tyvc

Steve Skinner said...

You realize with all of this checking and rechecking before hitting the send button you are eliminating “laughter factor” at the receiver’s end of the wire. Some of the best entertainment at the office was when someone sent a very personal email to the entire organization. The next email from them would be one explaining that they made a mistake; like sure we are all that stupid and couldn’t figure it out!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

undo send is a new development!

susan said...

I suppose that the definition of "semaphore" can only be found in an actual dictionary? Sigh...

Ellee Seymour said...

I would like to buy a Wiii Fit, I hear it is really good.