The Courteous.ly system scans a user's inbox, deciding if it has more messages piled up than normal. If so, it posts a warning on a dedicated page, so those looking to send an email can check and see how busy you are first.
“I think we’re really good at the etiquette part when we have the cues that allow us to be polite,” said creator Eric Gilbert, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech. “Courteous.ly helps manage expectations and lets people choose to send mail when it’s best for you.”
Courteous.ly takes 12 hours to scan your inbox, so it can figure out the normal state of your inbox. "If you normally have 40,000 unread messages in your inbox, what's 50 more? But if you usually have nothing in your inbox, then 50 unread messages is a big deal," the site notes.
Then, it will update your dedicated page every ten minutes to let would-be senders know if your email load is light, normal or high, so they know whether to expect an immediate response. That could make having a "light" status a mixed blessing, as senders wonder why you're taking so long getting back to them if your inbox isn't full.
The system also manipulates the order of your inbox. It favours one-sentence questions, bumping them to the top, while messages with "whenever" in the subject line are only delivered when the email load drops to normal.
In the future, the system may not require users to go to the Courteous.ly website before sending their message. Instead, messages could be colour coded to let senders know how busy a user is.
So far, Courteous.ly only works with Gmail, as that's the only system Gilbert could use without asking for users' login details. However, you'll still need to give the system access to your account.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk