The Impact Of Priority Inbox

I've been using Gmail's Priority Inbox for a while now. I like it very much. But it has one impact that is worth pointing out.

If your email gets into the third section of the main page, called "Everything Else", I most likely won't see it unless I see it on my Android phone. And hopefully Google is working on bringing Priority Inbox to Android. When that happens, I won't ever see it.

Everything Else is like the spam folder with one exception. The email will come up in the search results.

This may not be everyone's use case. I get a lot of email and I can't get to all of it regardless of what email client I use. Other Priority Inbox users might actually read through Everything Else. But I don't and can't.

Google has solved a huge problem for me and potentially created a huge problem for emailers.

The email deliverability business, where we have an investment in the market leader Return Path, will be impacted by Priority Inbox and related services. Deliverability will increasingly mean getting into the Priority Inbox. And that's a hard thing to do.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Wells Baum

    I’ve hesitated to use priority Inbox to the fear that it skips something important. I’d rather deal with the unimportant emails quickly, as I already do on my Smartphone by an easy delete or read button.Obviously, we’d all like a perfect system for managing our email but I just don’t think it’s possible. Sometimes random email can be relevant.

    1. IPO Investing

      I agree to a point. The question is how much time are you spending on the irrelevant and what is your time worth – or the time of your employees. But, I agree right now, you might miss something that could far outweigh the cost of your time.

  2. LIAD

    Google is starting to disrupt again.Priority inbox makes newsletter providers have to work a lot harder. I’m sure a cottage industry will grow around it as they begin to see through googles algorithms and work out how to ‘guarantee’ priority statusInstant search has a lot of SEO’s up in arms. Apparantely a bunch of old tricks have become irrelevant and they’ll need to start working things out again from scratchGoogle tv on the surface looks like it can morph into something exciting tooDisruption is the name of the game – for good or for bad, googles back in play

    1. SEO

      You stated “… I’m sure a cottage industry will grow around it as they begin to see through googles algorithms and work out how to ‘guarantee’ priority status” – Could not agree more. Would rather, as someone else posted, see an application learn what I like and what I don’t – hard to get around each individual’s preference than just googles algorithms.

      1. Dan Lewis

        I don’t think it’ll be very easy to “game” (my word) GmailPI. I’m sure a significant part of the score is based on how often the recipient receives and reads email from the sender and another part is the global spam rating given the sender. Both things are going to be very hard, if not impossible, to work around.

        1. Alex Murphy

          Google and the other ISPs have clearly stated that “engagement” is a key factor to determine whether an email is delivered to the Inbox. Until PI, most ISPs had to make a binary decision, junk or inbox. PI is better, as Fred notes that the mail that doesn’t make it to the PI will still show up in your search. PI is not based upon a global variable, it is based upon what you open and what you click. If you don’t open and read the emails from your mom, then her emails will not show up in your PI. This will be very hard to game.Here is Google’s page on how it works.…The end result for marketers is that double opt in messaging is more important than ever.

          1. William Mougayar

            That “How it works” video doesn’t really say How it Works. It’s a marketing presentation of What it Does, with a very superficial “How”. The only thing you know for sure is that if you Replied to an email, subsequent threads will be in the Priority box. Is this going to become one of those Google secret algorithms like PageRank where hundreds of factors go into play for SEO? And you have to constantly game it.I’m concerned that Google isn’t revealing some of the voodoo under the hood. At least, reveal more to the user so they can game it more effectively than the self-training. We need an Advanced tweaking function that reveals “what Google has interpreted”, and allows you to further optimize it.

    2. Dan Lewis

      I have a newsletter which shares things about our world which would be fiction, except that they’re true ( While the subscriber base is small (500 people) I’ve seen only positive results since Priority Inbox. If you want my content and read it regularly, I become important to you. Priority Inbox therefore leads to more reads from dedicated readers, which is the goal anyway.And you’d be surprised how many people are just shocked to hear that carrots were originally purple.

      1. LIAD

        For sure. If your content is wanted google provide a surefire direct path to getting it in front of you.For the majority though, where content is unwanted or perhaps marginally wanted – priority inbox is going to give them a hard time.By being able to attach a VIP status to emails google have effectively relegated non VIP emails to just shy of spam – it may not look like that today but that’s what they’ve done. They’ve created a passive way for you to ignore things.I read that zucks has done the same recently with facebook friend requests. There is a new status where you haven’t accepted or declined the invitation. You’ve just deferred it. Which if you think about it is effectively a decline just done passively.

        1. akharris

          Though my sense of the reasoning behind the “defer” is so that it never actually goes away. That’s in line with everything else facebook declines to let you easily delete/be rid of.Even who you friend could be valuable info, and I think they want that.

        2. Dan Lewis

          “If your content is wanted google provide a surefire direct path togetting it in front of you.”That’s the point, though, right?I think most publishers — we’re talking about newsletters here, not(email) direct marketing “content” — do not really care to distributetheir content to people who do not want the content. Our goal,instead, is to ensure delivery to those who *do* want the content.For me, that’s huge. If I’m sending an email to 500 double opt-inemail recipients daily, I have pretty good reason to think that all500 are interested in it. If Google is going to distinguish me fromthe myriad of co-reg marketing junk, great. And I think that’salgorithmically doable. (A bonus? Google should/could partner withESPs, allowing the latter to be trusted providers of double opt-inverification, to add to the algo.)

          1. BillSeitz

            Except that it’s harder for new good email-based content to get up into that Priority section. A new subscriber probably won’t find it there until *after* they’ve found and read a few issues.(I’m not saying the new feature is net-bad, it’s definitely net-good.)

          2. Dan Lewis

            Maybe? I think this is where double opt-in shines.When you subscribe to my newsletter, you have to:(a) put your email address in a form and(b) open a confirmation email and click the confirmation link thereinThe email in part (b) comes nearly immediately and is expected by thesubscriber, so even if it gets tossed into “Everything Else,” there’sa good chance you’ll notice it.And Gmail can see the second step. It sees that you opened the email(and maybe notices the alacrity?) and clicked the link. There’s adecent chance that you’ll already be on the cusp of a priorityemailer.Of course, I think Google could do more with more data, which is why Iopenly hoped that they work with companies like ReturnPath andMailchimp to get data.

          3. Alex Murphy

            Actually, I think that most “marketers” are trying to convince disinterested people to become interested. The engagement you have with your subscriber base is terrific, but I think that is A-Typical. I think that in the past, most marketing departments have been happy with a click through rate over 1% of the send and an open rate over 10%. That perspective is changing which is going to benefit users. Email as an outreach and customer activation mechanism will go away and will only be a user engagement mechanism.On the point of Google partnering with ESPs for the double opt in … I think that Google is reading emails to determine if the sender is asking the user to confirm their subscription and this is baked into their algo already.

          4. Dan Lewis

            Right. I was addressing newsletters (ie content) not email marketing”blasts” (ie ads).

        3. RichardF

          A deferral on Facebook is the equivalent of the creation of a public follow in the person’s stream that you have deferred. i.e. anything that you make public will now appear in that person’s stream.So you might think you are passively ignoring someone but in fact you are publishing (albeit your stuff that they could get by looking at your profile anyway) to them.It’s pretty clever on Facebook’s part given how many people unwittingly have very few privacy permissions in place.

      2. ShanaC

        I heard carrots were originally white from someone who went foraging for wild carrots…

        1. Dan Lewis

          Get me a cite?

          1. ShanaC

            Wild carrots = queen’s anne lace (the wildflower) = domestic carrotsDomestic Carrots are a subspecies of wild carrots. you can interbreed them (I think, I haven’t tried) Wild carrots revert back to themselves when you domesticate them after a few generations.….It’s like dealing with neaderthals in human history. We clearly coexisted with them for a while. Carrots are evolving funny.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Are you sure those carrots weren’t from Transylvania, where a certain Dracula resides?

    3. awaldstein

      Re: Google and TV since you raised this:)I’m not a believer that Google is the one that is going to bridge the gap between the couch and our big screen TV. Obvious why they want to of course, as this is the most important real estate on the planet.But it can’t be won by tech, it needs to be won by understanding the mass market consumer which at least today, is not Google. Installed an AppleTV yesterday. Super simple. Beautiful design. Foot in the door for them as with Airplay I can stream anything from my network to the big screen. Interim step but my bet is that they will not be able to manufacture enough to meet mass market demand. But, what I’m really excited about is the delivery of my Boxee Box…

      1. LIAD

        Airplay allows you to stream anything to the tv?Does it have to route through the gulag which is iTunes?

        1. MrHatken

          No, I believe the rumour is that any app will be able to stream to the TV using Airplay.

        2. awaldstein

          Yup…music to surround sound TV system, photos, video et al. Goodbye to sound docs forever, thankfully.Yes…through the Apple gulag.Developing the expanse of the living room floor will not happen in one swoop. And Apple may not win. But like they did with the iPhone, they show the way…lot’s will follow.

          1. LIAD

            It doesn’t let you stream movies of questionable provenance aka torrents, does it?

          2. awaldstein

            Don’t know torrents but to AirPlay it’s just data. Still new-2-me so learning and experimenting.Strange backdoor approach but potentially brilliant. Sure on the TV, have to purchase through iTunes or their interface (quite simple to use) for NetFlix and others but anything you have on your system, gets pushed to TV with AirPlay as the transport.More to come post the work day…

          3. CJ

            From my reading it will stream anything that it can play so my guess is you’d have to transcode the files to a Apple native codec to get them to work with AirPlay.

          4. LIAD

            Disaster.If you can’t play stuff through it without having to muck around with encoding etc. It’s just not good enough.If it looks like a walled garden and smells like a walled garden….

          5. Matt A. Myers

            You can charge for things in a walled garden though; Unwalled gardens, everyone can enjoy fully without having to pay … Apple’s orchards have very high walls…

      2. Tereza

        I’m with you on the (Google lack of) mass consumer understanding. That’s needed to get into the living room and it is weak.Also eager to see the Boxee box.

        1. LIAD

          im not sure they lack mass consumer understanding. they’ve done a pretty good job with search, email, maps -i just think they’re playing to two masters – the early adopters and the mainstream – i dont think they can do that when it comes to their TV offering.

          1. ShanaC

            tv is a mainstream thing, but our idea of mainstream and how we consume it is changing. Look at hulu and youtube. They are on the money to think that search belongs in tv. It’s just not clear that the implementation they are doing is going to wow us all/

          2. Tereza

            I may have cut that a little to broad but you’ll forgive me since I’m still pissed about the time and error they have forced into my life w Google Calendar….And I think what we’re talking about here is email…(which at the moment I have a personal struggle with as they’re spam-blocking me…solvable but annoying)I’m with you with the two masters…I think. Are you saying they should be solving for Earlies, or for Mass?I don’t spend all my days tracking all of Google’s moves or which master they’re serving. But my take is this. Going sequential, Earlies then mass, sometimes it works. But sometimes not. You may never get to mass as their needs may be too different — sometimes fundamentally different. Often because they layer into totally different life (and tech) use cases.A while back for example there a discussion here about using an iTouch plus a $1.99 app as a universal remote. Cheering the ‘cheap and easy’ solution of just an app doing all that. But I gagged, imagining my 3.5 yo hiding the $299 iTouch + 1.99 in her Dora backpack for days. (some anonymous person told me, ‘keep better control of your kids.”. Um, that was real nice)To me the key question is, based on what your product is and where you need it to go, how much ‘understanding of mass’ are you going to bring into the equation how early.Here’s the thing. I’ve run a LOT of market research in my life. Mass knows that Earlies don’t respect them very much. And they don’t like when they feel non-respected. Not understanding some of their fundamental needs can send you down some really wrong paths and mess up with the early mass you need to do your evangelizing.So as an example, it is very obvious to me that Google truly doesn’t care about making their calendar work for moms, even though they run all the family’s doings. That’s a lot of people. Too much thinking and deciphering to set up basic use cases. Horrible support. Unacceptable…even if it is free.Look I’m not an early adopter, I’m early mass. I live on the front line of this every day. And almost every day I scratch my head about something i see and ask ‘what were they thinking?’. Do they want lots of people to use this, or not?Need to get out of the bubble and talk to real people.That’s what I meant.

          3. LIAD

            apologies if my comment was facetious.i agree with what you.With the tv google needs to go after mass, it needs to provide the simplest and easiest option of bringing the internet to your main screen.early adopters most always feel under-served – trying to please them at this stage, in my opinion, would be a mistake

          4. Tereza

            No apologies needed but thanks!We agree. Cool. They need to go after mass and take it seriously bc it’s incredibly difficult to make it that simple.

      3. fredwilson

        appleTV will be a better out of the box experience than BoxeeBoxee will allow you to do morei agree about Google

        1. awaldstein

          AirPlay is a clever bridge to the future for them. Although as easy as it is (and it is) it still feels early.For a lot of folks though, $99 just to easily get content, including movies and web TV stuff on the big screen will sell them.BUT…its not the web. Its simple streaming across the living room space. And they like Google don’t get social.I’m a Boxee fan and eager to play with it.

    4. ShanaC

      Easy as pie with the email, make it a viral email, more akin to twitter or some of the things that go on on a listhost. Email marketers often forget that email lists are not a one way medium (we’ve forgotten this) and that emails are tingly with the ability to easily forward and create conversations around….Ancideotally, things rise if you click on, unexpected things, such as Gilt Groupe emails (renoune for their addictive qualities….) Same with groupon! It important I would say to structure your email to not be long and as if you could write back to the person who sent it to you, or that you would want to forward it to someone else because of its content.Otherwise why would you open it?

  3. baba12

    “Deliverability (not sure if the word exists) will increasingly mean getting into the Priority Inbox. And that’s a hard thing to do”.That is a personal choice to a large degree. The priority email sorts the email based on personal use of emails.Iam sure that there maybe some emails you will never see and who knows there is a possibility you may miss out something of value. I am sure if and when that happens there shall be some rethinking on your part as well as the makers of these services. Since you get tons of email and I mean not spam what is a good approach for someone to get on your priority email, after all not many have a personal relationship with you, thus if they are soliciting something from you and they sent an email only then chances are they may not be able to get through to you.Maybe if you make it clear that to solicit anything from you, email is not the best way but through a personal contact or a chance meeting on the street, then there is a possibility also that you may start receiving fewer emails which will make it less likely that you will not see them.I think over time there will be a balance if you clearly state that email is not the best way for you to be contacted if sending something wherein they require you to respond.Priority email only simplified the process for you to ignore and not be inundated with stuff you have no way to get through to.

  4. phanio

    Thanks – did not know it was searchable. Is return path working on something similar? Personally, I would like an email system that learns what I like and can sort my incoming accordingly. I have marked things as span that still end up where I don’t want them. And, have things I want go to spam without asking.

  5. Dan Lewis

    This is precisely why I turned Priority Inbox off. I actually had to spend more time and attention on the “everything else” folder because it was a catch-all of somewhat important stuff and unimportant stuff, and then started to sort/prioritize that stuff in hopes PI would figure it out, which it kind of did. But the new, important people started emailing me…… yeah.

    1. fredwilson

      i spent a few weeks training Priority Inbox and now it works really well for me

      1. Dan Lewis

        I’ve managed to cut down my incoming email pretty dramatically, inpart because I have a separate work email account.Also, I send a daily email newsletter purporting to be from my gmailaddress so I get replies/ from people I’ve never conversed withbefore.Combined, it’s not worth the work — the volume is much lower thanbefore and there are new emailers coming in regularly whose emails Ican’t afford to miss.

      2. maverickny

        I spent a few weeks training Priority Inbox in my Google Apps account also. Yesterday morning I had 77 new messages of which 66 were designated ‘priority’, ugh. It works in spurts, some days are better than others, I just wish it would remember more precisely.It works much better in my personal Gmail than business Google Apps so far.The thing that has really revolutionised my email though is Filters. Important emails such as Bills, Family and such are found rather than missed more easily that way.

      3. Mark Essel

        Hey Fred, are blog comments prioritized?

        1. fredwilson

          yes, of course

  6. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

    More and more, Google is my desktop and workspace. I just got google voice. I have been using priority inbox, but at some point everyday I click to inbox just to see what I missed. I also use labels, and that is working well. I see when I have something from that group or list and click through and read when I have time for that. I only get 30 emails a day, but as that increases I am going to continue to tweak the system to get optimum impact.

  7. akharris

    Priority inbox got activated for me yesterday in my apps account, so I started using it for work as well as personal (where I love it). I’m a little worried about what will happen, though, as first time customer emails will likely get routed to regular old inbox. That could be dangerous, but we’ll see what happens as I continue to train it.

  8. Mark

    Here’s a possible improvement: Priority could be shared across contacts. Fred, if you have Brad’s (your contact) email marked as priority, then a sender that he has marked as priority (but you don’t) could maybe go to a second-tier inbox. In short, if Brad has interest in the sender, you might have some more interest. Social priority.

    1. William Mougayar

      I like that comment. sounds like Google could buy Rapportive and make that happenBut it strikes me that there’s some of that already in their algo’s. Google knows who is in your social network.

      1. Mark

        You are probably right, Will. I’m just not sure I consider my contact list is my social network. πŸ™‚ Ah, Google… But I have to admit, I like priority inbox, and with push notifications on my phone, email is a bigger part of my life again. So much more work could be done on this platform, but so much legacy to deal with.

        1. William Mougayar

          I think they know both your contacts AND who’s in your network that may not be in your contacts. Have you stumbled on Google Search results where they show you results “in your network” at the bottom of the screen? That’s powerful, and a sign of things to come.

  9. Ric

    Getting into the Priority Inbox (I’m using it too, and liking it too) will mean the recipient ultimately has to see your email as important, and that’s entirely their decision … and that’s just as it should be πŸ™‚

  10. Dan Ramsden

    Like Facebook Groups, the Google Priority Inbox could over time evolve into a social status symbol. Who is on the list and who isn’t? Among other consequences, the openness of social networking (of which email is a part) could move in the opposite direction, and become a closed system. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. We’re still in the early days.

  11. dave

    Maybe you should write a script that sends your unread email to a worthy cause like Salvation Army or Goodwill. They can start a VC fund and pick up the opportunities you leave unread? Just a thought. :-)My problem is, believe it or not, that I don’t get enough juicy ideas to chew on in my inbox. Send some of them to me!

    1. fredwilson

      i’ll have to learn how to hack gmailbut it will be worth it dave!

  12. markslater

    what % of your time is now dedicated to traditional email?I’ll bet that you respond to a whole category of conversation using web services now – where as before it would be your inbox.frankly speaking and not to sound rude – you are very available to people if they want to reach you – i just did and we have never met – if someone ends up in your everything else file – i seriously would not worry too much about it.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      It gives me a physical / visual division from the ‘Everything Else’ so I have a visual point to stop processing. It might only save 30 ms, but cuts my brain’s searching much faster.

    2. fredwilson

      still too muchjust did 90 mins of it and barely made a dent

  13. Les McKeown

    I can’t put my finger on why this post makes me sad, Fred, but it does.Something about the loss of spontaneity, serendipity, living in a closed universe…not sure.I trust Google’s spam filter and delete it all every morning without a glance, but I don’t (yet) want it to decide for me what non-spam unpredictability my life should experience.Or something like that.- Les

    1. drmolliemarti

      I can relate, Les. For me, one of the joys of running my own company is the feeling that you never know what a day will bring. We live in a world of opportunities that come to us faster than ever — and often disappear just as fast.I see it as part of our job to stay light on our feet and positioned to seize the opportunities that speak to us and allow us a bold forward step into becoming more of the person we want to be and making the impact we seek to make.I’ve often said to clients as they begin to experience growth, “and it just keeps getting better…you never know what you’ll find in your inbox!”This is what comes up for me – and caused me to have a similar response to automated sorting of (lost?) opportunities…Mollie

      1. Les McKeown

        I agree, Molly. Last week I got an email from an very old friend in hadn’t heard from in 15 years. Google had him in ‘Everything Else’, which existentially was absolutely correct.Then again, maybe I’m missing something.

    2. Tereza

      Neat point Les. Some of the most joyful things come from randomness.And some of the biggest opportunities too.First mover advantage comes from being first to see something out of the noise.It’s like in music, you have to stay close to ‘street’ — you can’t be in a bubble or your Petri dish is too clean.

      1. Les McKeown

        Nobody ever accused me of having a too-clean Petrie dish before, Tereza πŸ™‚

    3. fredwilson

      i get plenty of serendipity in priority inboxjust a lot less unwanted email

      1. John

        How do you know you’re getting a lot less unwanted email? You said you don’t look in your “Everything Else.” Maybe it’s wanted email, but you just never see it.

        1. fredwilson

          i give a quick scan every few daysbut i don’t approach it like an inboxi approach it more like a spam filter where i am glancing for false positives

          1. PhL

            I think that in your case, email is asymmetrical. It’s more important for most people to get your attention than for you to hear about them, which means that “silence” (interesting mail not getting into your priority Inbox) is not really an issue. If people really want to contact you, they’ll try again by some other means. And this is a self reinforcing loop: the less you see those mails, the less chance they’ll get to enter your Priority Inbox. This might not be a good or bad thing per se. Mail is just becoming like corporate phone. Leaving a message by some assistant doesn’t mean their boss will call you back.

      2. Les McKeown

        That’s not serendipity, Fred. That’s a walled garden. And if you want Google to wall your garden for you, fair enough.

        1. fredwilson

          not truei get emails in priority inbox all the time from people i’ve never heard ofwhat i don’t get is newsletters i never signed up for

  14. RichP

    The latest Gmail update available in the market has Priority Inbox support, although the implementaion isn’t as smooth as the desktop web client.

  15. Christian Brucculeri

    I never read my email newsletters anymore, they just sit at the bottom.Does anyone have any data on how this has affected open rates across verticals? I know they have dropped by at least one….

  16. cvasqu1

    Hi Fred, I’ve been using Priority Inbox for a few weeks and disagree in its usefullness. Google, here is trying to do some of our thinking by priortixing their inboxes based on how we’ve been using it for the last few instances. The only problem for users is that in our digital world, priorities are shifting by the day. No busines plan is valid for 3 years, and it often seems like no strategy is sound for a long time as well. I like to look at my inbox every morning knowing their is no bias to its order except “first come first serve”. Of course, I am glad there is no spam, but if i’m receiving that newsletter on family health topics, for example, I may not want to read through it this week but next week, it may be my priority. Thanks Google for Gmail Search.

    1. Alex Murphy

      Just a thought, but you should consider using filters to star the emails that you want to keep around that you may not read everyday.

  17. Matt A. Myers

    I like disruption.Priority Inbox has definitely made me more efficient. It brings to my attention my Starred items every time I login.All in all, it’s helped me focus on organizing my email more.So, thanks Google.

  18. FictiveCameron

    Pinged you recently about Brooklyn Beta. Any chance I’m in “everything else”?

    1. fredwilson

      maybewhat do you want to know?

      1. FictiveCameron

        Just a few bits about your talk, scheduling, etc.Quick search of Cameron + Brooklyn Beta should bring it up.Looking to finalize the detail bc it’s about a week away.

  19. Florian Feder

    The broader issue is that as we rely more and more on the questionable β€œintelligence” of machines, we have to accept that their limited way of analyzing data will influence our lives.Machines can only look back, parse, find patterns, compare. So Hunch can tell us what people who are similar to us like, and Google priorty inbox can analyze what email we have read first in the past.What will be left out (unless we fight this trend) is the use of our uniquely human creativity. Hunch will never recommend that I go to an event that is outside my comfort zone. If I follow its advice, then I will be stuck with hanging out with people who are like me, read what people like me read, etc. If I use Google priority inbox, then I will be stuck with the friends and business partners I already have.Remember, as Jaron Lanier says: You are Not a Gadget.

    1. Daria Steigman

      Florian: Your first sentence about relying “more and more on the questionable ‘intelligence’ of machines” says it all. I like Priority Mail as a filter, but it’s not MY filter. I’ve found that it’s going a pretty good job of sorting out “real” mail for me–but it’s far from perfect. If I never looked below the fold I would miss out on some pretty important stuff.(And, eventually, people are going to figure out how to game the Priority Mail system to get their spam in there.)Fred: I think it’s a big sad that you’re opting to let a program make what are, in effect, business decisions for you about who you engage with via this platform.

      1. fredwilson

        i have trained priority inboxand i keep training iti will scan everything else from time to time for senders i need to add to priority

  20. atryon

    I’m becomming a bigger fan of Priority Inbox every day and am looking forward to Google offering it for my iPhone and my Google apps email account. I know someday it will learn that Facebook notices and Thrillest newsletters are not priority!With that said, I’ve found that starring an email can become the “lost zone” for me. I usualy have 15-20 items with stars, not of all of which I can action on immediately. And as a result I tend to shrink the section – resulting in me reading priority and other, but forgeting starred. Anyone else have this problem?

  21. William Mougayar

    I’m fairly satisfied with that feature, although I’m always worried about missing something, so doing a sweep to Everything else is necessary. But that’s what prioritization is about.It strikes that the next area of improvement is on the trainability aspect. How to train it faster, more accurately and if we could override the algorithm in a more deterministic manner via filters or something like that. It seems like the black box phenomenon is a something that not everyone is comfortable with.

  22. Adrian Bye

    So for those of us here who know you a little but don’t do active business with you today (but may in the future), how do we get through to you now?

    1. fredwilson

      you just did

  23. Dave W Baldwin

    First, Mr. Waldstein, your last blog regarding social media is true, specifically regarding the changeover to the consumer. After finishing out the current project I’m working on, comes the next step that delivers what you imply to a power that will make you smile.What does that have to do with the g-mail issue? There is a better way coming sooner than you think. Mr. Feder’s reference to ‘questionable intelligence’ is true. Depending on what is, at this time, a trivial engine with a trick or two added will not take care of what any of you really want.It truly is a matter of intelligence (artificial) and something you truly train and collaborate with is coming over the next 2-5 years.Then someone like Fred can have his assistant send polite response to those that try to e-mail him the fact he doesn’t want it….and not lift a finger.

  24. zackmansfield

    Fred, how do your disqus notifications of new comments show up in PI? Is your inbox trained to allow all disqus comments to PI? Have you noticed a change in behavior for how you manage comments here?

    1. RichardF

      I was wondering how Fred handled Disqus in gmail also

    2. obscurelyfamous

      My comment notifications are filtered under a different label so I can check them at my leisure. Same thing with other alerts or notifications from other websites like Facebook.

    3. fredwilson

      priorityat the top

  25. daryn

    Delivery into priority inbox *should* be hard, and as much as I known how important getting their message read is from the sender’s perspective, I think most of the automated mail I get doesn’t deserve to be there.I’m still running sanebox on one account and PI on another. I prefer that Sanebox has a couple more labels, including one for all bulk mail, and one for disqus comments (though sadly I still don’t get most disqus emails) – it makes it more fine grained than just read or don’t read. I know there is a lot more I could do with both if I sat down and wrote a couple filters, but I’m more interested in what each can do out of the box.I’m guessing I get 1/10 or less of the email you get, excluding spam, so it is a little different of a problem, as I still check the non-inbox folders at least a couple times daily. I never check spam though, if your email goes there, you’re screwed.

  26. Aaron Klein

    I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a sifferent e-mail experience than most. I “only” deal with 300-400 a day but I’m ruthless about unsubscribing with (thank you Fred) and conversation view is a leverage tool where one click can deal with five messages.My pattern is pretty clear: throughout the day, my middle tier of priority gets shuttled to the “To Process” folder. Every three days, I spend an hour clearing those out. (Or on a flight. My inbox is always sparkling clean after flights!)I don’t look forward to the day of having to intentionally ignore useful e-mail. I still think my personality would drive me to have an assistant going through the middle and lower tiers for me. I don’t like missing opportunities.

    1. Siminoff

      Aaron, glad you are enjoying Of course I am biased but I think that the real fix here is to clean the feed coming into you box and not try and move it around once it comes.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Well said. My feed is still not perfectly clean, but it’s manageable. I’ve built my system around my need for a clean inbox and a task system that only shows me what is important now. And as a result, my inbox is typically at zero once a week, and it’s very manageable throughout the week.For those who are interested, here are my posts on the subject…Inbox Zero:…Managing Tasks:

      2. fredwilson

        jamieyou need a new avatar

  27. Nicholas Orr

    I’ve left priority inbox turned off as it didn’t help me….I think this is due to the fact that I employ the “read later” manual filter method that I read about.Basically if i don’t want it in my inbox and i keep seeing stuff from them, then i add their domain to the filter that puts these emails straight in the “read later” label.By doing this Priority Inbox becomes pointless and a pain in the ass to read email…I like getting the emails that I don’t read, because sometimes I want a distraction and there is a newsletter from Marvel and I can read it, though most of the time I just delete it ;)It’ll be interesting to see if Priority Inbox can be beaten, I’m thinking it is really only doable if the person actually wants to read your email, this is the whole point of it right?The other advantage of the “read later” filter is things start to end up in the spam and since I have the “read later” filter on, these items stand out in case I actually need those emails. This has happened a few times to me…

  28. sbmiller5

    I had a huge issue with an email i missed because of Priority Inbox – luckily I wondered why a particular person never got back to me, searched for my latest email to him and saw his response.I got lucky, but it has caused me to scan everything else once a week.

  29. Christopher Xanthakis

    Not sure if someone already covered this but here is a quick tutorial on using the priority inbox more efficiently on your Android device:

  30. Don Inbody

    Actually, Android GMail does have a version of Priority Inbox…Open GMail app…Menu…labels…Important. There you go.

    1. fredwilson


  31. Evan

    “New York VC Outsources Screening for Prospective Startups to Google”

    1. fredwilson

      most of the emails i get from entrepreneurs end up in the priority sectionbut i did get quite a chuckle from your commentvery nicely done

  32. CJ

    I actually turned it off. I was missing a few emails and found it more of a chore to switch between the two. Though I don’t get many emails to my gmail account that require my attention daily so it was a luxury I could afford to part with.

  33. ShanaC

    I think a lot of this is happening largely because we’re trying to redefine the idea of content. Email is a form of content, and I am not sure if we are using the right matrix. I’m not sure what content is the right content to be labeled “Important” or not.I’m not finding priority email working for me right now. it may be a me thing, I need a good system that works for me. πŸ™ Though for a while I was getting closer and then, didn’t work.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      An inbox isn’t just for email anymore, it’s a way to filter through the relevant things that you might like or be interested in; That’s how I view and try to structure it anyway. I just turned off Facebook and Twitter notifications to it because they cluttered a lot (except for DM reminders).

  34. Rob Mills

    I can see that priority inbox could be useful but I tend to follow my own policy that emails only stay in my inbox until I take action on them at which point they’re archived. So at any given time I don’t have a large amount in there therefore for me priority inbox really just got in the way.

  35. Andrew Greene

    I think Priority Inbox is a start to email innovation. But I would like to see more integration of email, identity, reputation, and trust.Now that I think about it, there’s a great startup idea.

  36. andrewdeandrade

    I would love it if Google implemented a feature philosophically similar to where anyone who sends you an email that is shorter than three sentences and only expects a reply shorter than three sentences gets to your priority inbox.Of course three could be replaced with any number. I myself would love having an auto-reply feature that tells the sender that unless they resend their message shortened to only X sentences long, I cannot guarantee that I will reply.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      What if I decide to never input any kind of period or comma or hmm what are those called I really can’t remember at this time but I think you get my point that it isn’t totally foolproof unless it would consider a certain number of characters to be a sentence ;)One sentence so far with that semi-colon but I digress..

      1. andrewdeandrade

        That’s certainly a possibility, but you could always simply ignore these people or even downright ban them from your priority inbox outright or maybe put them in a temporary ban “penalty box” for a week, month or year if they are a contact you may want to hear from again.However, knowing Google, such a banning button wouldn’t even be necessary. They could just use their natural language processing skills to parse the sentence to check if it is a run-on sentence has too many verbs and linking prepositions.Another option would be to apply a Flesch-Kincaid reading level filter to the message. For example, I may want to limit emails to 3 sentences at the 12th grade reading level. It would then check the words in the entire email and the syllables per word to determine if the message passes.A 3 sentence Flesch-Kincaid email score would be equal to three times the FKRA score, where FKRA is calculated by:FKRA = (0.39 x ASL) + (11.8 x ASW) βˆ’ 15.59FKRA = Flesch-Kincaid Reading AgeASL = Average Sentence Length (i.e., the number of words divided by the number of sentences)ASW = Average number of Syllables per Word (i.e., the number of syllables divided by the number of words)

    2. fredwilson

      such an awesome idea

      1. andrewdeandrade

        Glad you liked it. I’ve been thinking about this email problem for a while now. Hopefully, now that it’s got your seal of approval, someone else will take this idea and run with it by coding a Gmail plugin. I’d give it a shot myself, but I’m too busy working on my first startup at the moment.I do have some other great startup ideas that I’d like to pitch to you sometime, especially a micropayment idea that could save the newspaper industry. Do you ever come down to Brazil? πŸ˜‰

    3. vruz

      that can probably be codified as a Gmail plugin or a script that does some extra analysis in your can then set up the script as a cron job and run it every 5 minutes or so.not sure about Gmail polling, that’s probably bad form, they should have a Gnip or equivalent pub/sub system for that. (maybe they do have it and I ignore it)

  37. Tahin

    You can keep following sections -Important and unreadUnreadImportantEverything else (collapsed)

  38. Adam Steiner

    Which means we’ll need to figure out other ways to reach people. Substantive blog comments come to mind.–A

    1. fredwilson

      that has always worked with me

      1. Adam Steiner

        And a way to better comment through RSS readers would help. How awesome would it be if I could comment to a blog that uses Disqus while in Google Reader? I rarely click through to blogs…Guess I know what my Friday Research Project is…

  39. Mark Essel

    We know you get overloaded with email, and we know where you work.I think the obvious solution if we need to get a hold of you is to hang a massive banner across the street with your face and a qr image to a url with REALLY important info for you. (hint remove the .qr at the linked word if you don’t have a phone/qr scanner)The backup plan, send you an edible arrangement, flowers or a bottle of Pappy with a note that’s less than 140 characters in length.

    1. Tereza

      Well, we know Fred reads every AVC comment.That’s his Priority Inbox.

      1. fredwilson

        it is a labor of love

    2. fredwilson

      pappy has reached an exalted place in this community

  40. paramendra

    The inbox is where search was before Google. The Bing-Facebook duo should have targeted the inbox instead of search.

  41. vruz

    The web-based mobile Gmail can has it! (it’s the “Important” folder, I know…inconsistent, but it’s there)I find myself using the web-based Gmail on Android more often than I use the app.The browser is so good I find it more comfortable to flip between browser windows than switching apps.I hope web apps get a traybar notification API soon, so that any web app can send out notifications, including “You have mail”.

  42. MikeBZ

    This might be the end of e-mail as we know it. I think it’s been a “catch all” dump for too long and now that it’s being even less reliable other more configurable services will replace it.A lot of the people in the younger generations don’t use e-mail at all. They use Facebook to communicate with their friends and twitter for mass broadcasts.

    1. Peter Beddows

      I do not know if there are statistics that prove your point Mike but, together with the younger generation’s apparently increasingly extensive use of texting and IM, anecdotally at least your observation would appear to be more and more the reality about future modes of communication.

  43. Peter Beddows

    After browsing my way through this thread, I now have the distinct feeling that I’m missing out on a lot of fun by not being a Gmail user.Been using, dare I say it without incurring a deluge of derision, Windows Exchange Server with Outlook client (‘cos it also allows me to use BlackBerry Exchange Server ~ BES with my BB).Between a very effective anti-spam/virus filter on the server, which I now check the training of generally only once I notice the absence of an expected email, and Outlook’s built-in Junk Filter plus my local Panda Security software that includes Spam filtering capability, I have successfully eliminated around 99%+ of spam from my InBox. The server filter auto-deletes junk after 24 hours ~ a time frame that allows me to catch anything if I notice something missing and very little unwanted or undesirable mail gets beyond the server to the local client, either Outlook or BB. Now, if only there was a way to eliminate frivolous tweets …… Just since March 17th 2010 alone, I’ve received 36,528 and counting.

  44. brookr

    I’m sure lots of people with flooded inboxes feel similarly. There is no way to personally handle the overload, and PI goes a long way to helping gmail users know where to focus there time.It’s an tough problem for senders for sure! Some senders won’t care (emails like “Thanks!”, etc), but some will want ways to be sure they are not getting lost in the flood.I’m working on a way to provide just that:

  45. Vijaya Sagar V

    Alright Fred, now it is quite clear that your priority inbox did me in πŸ™‚ [Quite ironic, considering that priority inbox eased my own email load a lot.]Was wondering whatever happened to my email to you, sent on 8/Oct (subject: [not a funding pitch] …) to your unionsquare id. My co-founder is in NY and wanted to meet you for a few minutes at your office, if you had the time. Please let me know.

    1. fredwilson

      I archived a bunch of old mail last night. If it is still relevant plsresend

  46. Vijaya Sagar V

    Fred, I have resent that mail just now (from vijayasagar at gmail). Thanks a ton!

  47. akay64

    how does this work?

    1. akay64

      How do i delete my own reply !!! .. this is horrible.

  48. fredwilson

    me toohate it with a passion

  49. vruz

    and hate doesn’t begin to describe the reactions it would cause.that would be evil incarnate.