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New GMail System Helps Prevent Email Embarrassment

Craig Buckler

email embarrassmentFor all it’s convenience, email is a dangerous medium. It’s 9pm Friday night. You’re moaning to your friends about working late and click send without thinking. Monday morning arrives and there’s a “Did you mean to send this message to me?” email sitting in your inbox. From your boss. Oops!

A new GMail feature might help you. “Got the wrong Bob?” is a Google Labs add-on which analyzes the contact groups you email most often and identifies potential conflicts. For example, if you regularly send messages to Tim, Angela and Bob Smith, a new email to Tim, Angela and Bob Jones will alert you that it might be a mistake:

email embarrassment

The system was devised by Google engineer Yossi Matias:

I often came across messages sent by mistake because Yossi is a common name in Israel.

One was a communication between two people. They were having a conversation about the future of a colleague but had accidentally included him in the emails. So I thought that maybe we can provide a feature that can recognize this.

“Don’t forget Bob” is a similar add-on which analyzes your send list and highlights recipients you might have missed. To switch on either system:

  1. Log on to GMail and click Settings at the top-right.
  2. Click the Labs tab.
  3. Scroll down to the add-on and click Enable.
  4. Hit Save Changes.

Could this system help you? What was the most embarrassing email you sent to the wrong recipient?