How do we get expires header on emails adopted?

Being an environmentalist and a web dev I couldn’t help but take note of the energy useage required to store the billions of billions of emails that get sent everyday and store pretty much forever. I started thinking why can’t there be an ‘expires’ tag/header on emails that email clients can use to clean up all of the old emails that aren’t needed. Did a google search and a couple of others have asked this question too.

It seems so simple to me to just be able to set a date after which an emails content is no longer valid. Do i really need an email with coupon code that expired in 2017? No i don’t, but I (like a lot of people) don’t delete it we just leave it. which is why i have 10k emails in my inbox.

If outlook etc asked ‘This email has an expiry date, do you want to delete all emails from this sender after an expiry date?’ I would click yes for sure.

Why hasn’t this been done? how do we get it implemented??

Several reasons mainly…

  1. Despite billions of emails sent everyday, their storage is actually not that much as most are text. So no real need. Storage is cheap now a days.

  2. Emails come with a sent and received date already, so you can already choose delete after a certain date and from a certain sender. Why does no one do it? The main reason here is Laziness. Secondary reason… they just don’t know how. https://support.exclaimer.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360004540491-How-to-automatically-remove-older-emails-from-Exchange-and-Outlook

  3. Have you ever deleted an email thinking that no way would you need it again in the future only to, the following month, say “Oh where is that email? I wish I wouldn’t have deleted it. Maybe IT has an archived copy”

  4. Who decides when something is useful or not? What you find expired and useless is different than what someone else may think. Who sets this expired date? The sender? The receiver? Does the receiver have to do it for each email when they receive it? If so, refer to point 2 above about laziness.

Either way, I am not quite sure the problem is much as you think it is. In the age of pentabytes and how cheap it is to sore data, you would be better off spending time on other environmental issues that have a bigger impact.

Just my thoughts on the matter. :slight_smile:

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We could just get everyone to print them all out before deleting them, just in case they need them in the future. :slight_smile:

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  1. I agree that storage is smaller than images for example the shear number of ever increasing emails I believe makes it a worthwhile and simple thing to look into. It’s much easier to auto delete marketing emails after a certain date than photos for exampel, as they are extremely unlikey to have any value to the user.

  2. This is not the same as when something in the email expires or if the email is a receipt rather than marketing. I could set a rule to delete all emails from ebay 2 weeks from the recieved date but I may delete a receipt or the offer may not expire within those 2 weeks. Also as you say it take a fair bit of effort to do this for each and every company’s email i recieve.

  3. can’t actually think of a time when i deleted a marketing email and thought I wish i’d kept it.

  4. The user/you. This is the point it allows the user to enact on the expiry time if they wish to. I send 75k enewsletters a month. If the sending client had an ‘expires’ field i could just add a date after which the content is obsolete I would use it.
    I would then expect the user to be presented with a message from their email client along the lines of ‘looks like this sender uses expiry dates, would you like to automatically delete all messages from this user X days after it expires? yes/no’. Simple. If i want to do that i press yes, if i’m desparate to keep gym membership offers from 2 years ago I press no.

My inbox then goes down to the 500 email i actually want to keep for whatever reason rather than the 10k that have to all be searched when i want to find something.

google and hotmail etc already try and guess certain functions. google mail has a separate tab for social emails for example. But they have to guess at these things rather than have something tangible they can use to give the user a choice.

It may be cheap to store data but thats a similar argument as gas is cheap so I’m not going to insulate my house.

I might be oversimplifying whats involved on the technical side but it seems a very simple way of reducing a lot of pointless data in the long run.

Something i read that spurred on my thoughts…