A Problem

I use gmail’s priority inbox to sort my mail into stuff I need to see and stuff I don’t. The reality is that I don’t see anything that does not go into my priority inbox unless I do a search (which I do quite often).

Google launched priority inbox four years ago and I have been using it from almost day one. And it has worked well and reliably for me until recently.

Sometime this summer (mid/late summer I think), I started noticing that emails from people that I dialog regularly with (including people at USV!) were not getting into my priority inbox. So I started wading into the “everything else” section of my inbox and finding those emails and manually tagging them as “important”. I did that for a week or two religiously and then went back to my habit of just looking at the priority emails and ignoring everything else.

But the problem continues to manifest itself. I am not entirely sure what happened. It feels like google has changed its priority sorting algorithm and it’s not working as well for me as it used to. Has anyone else experienced this issue recently?

And to everyone who used to get regular and rapid replies from me and now never hears back, I apologize. It’s not me. It’s google 🙂


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Have you tried Hop? It shows you the top stuff right away. I’m also testing Boxer, but no verdict yet.

    1. fredwilson

      i like the gmail web app. that’s where i want to do my email

      1. Guest

        hop desktop is coming…

        1. William Mougayar

          Cool! I will try it. It does simplify things, but I’m not fully trusting it yet.

          1. William Mougayar

            You are with Hop? Great. I’m liking it gradually. Just the fear of missing something. But I’ll say- it’s fast. Faster than Boxer.

      2. William Mougayar

        I still hop between Hop and Gmail, but it’s a nice break when you only have 1 minute to answer email, it shows you the top stuff. I learned about it from Joel M, and learned about Boxer from Nick G.

      3. Yalim K. Gerger

        I’ve been trying Hop after reading it here for almost half a day now. In the past, I dismissed countless mail clients and stuck with Gmail web app. But there is something special about Hop. I’d give it a try.

      4. Yalim K. Gerger

        They’ve been on Product Hunt four months ago. Founder makes some really good comments in the thread. http://www.producthunt.com/

    2. Donald E. Foss

      I’m experimenting with Hop on the iPhone, and it’s been mixed so far. I haven’t tried Boxer yet.For me, beyond MVF (Minimum Viable Functionality), I need it to be cross platform (iOS, Android, Windows, Mac), and to work with Exchange, iCloud, GMail, pop/imap.Context switch: I’m really hoping that Sunrise Calendar gets Exchange support working on their Mac version soon. It’s great on iOS, but not when the functionality is different across versions. Evernote does that with iOS and Android too, and it’s terribly frustrating.

      1. William Mougayar

        Hop doesn’t replace gmail for me. it’s just a quick way to glance at email when i only have 2 mins.

  2. Twain Twain

    Yes and Gmail algorithm is now weighted by shares and responses made on G+ and YouTube so it prioritizes differently.The interesting thing is it puts Disqus Digest and Comments into Primary rather than Social folder alongside Quora, LinkedIn and Facebook.It also doesn’t do a good job of separating out the Promotion emails from AppsWorld and various industry newsletters I get.

    1. fredwilson

      wtf? i don’t use G+ and use YouTube a bit. i would think email activity should be the thing that drives this

      1. Twain Twain

        Oh the integration with G+ and Gmail is a lot deeper than people realize. For example, if someone tweets a link of their public G+ post the other person now has to LOG IN to their G+ account before they can read that public post.I discovered this yesterday when Brad Feld retweeted a link I sent about how Ada Lovelace would solve some of the hard problems in AI if she was around.G+ is going “walled garden”.

        1. awaldstein

          Great info.G+ has always had a walled approach and from day 1, was a failed design without much of a soul.

          1. Jim Peterson

            And they tried to suck us in by gunpoint. G+ heavy users finally being dropped from search results.

          2. awaldstein

            Oh so true.Google is such an odd brand. Essential, like the highways department. At a huge size, their founders are still their face. Got to respect them for what they do and how they touch your lives. But don’t love them even the slightest bit.

          3. Twain Twain

            Apparently G+ has 2 BILLION accounts.So we’ll all see how social weighting of content (clicks and attention time) plays out over Google’s algorithms.

          4. awaldstein

            More than I thought.I honestly know no company or individual who uses it. Hangouts–sure, nothing more.A dozen years ago I built companies on SEO and PPC as the core. It’s not really a core go-to-market strategy for anyone except for large legacy catalogues although I don’t have real data on this as my realm of experience looks at this as secondary.

        2. ShanaC

          that actually might be good for adoption. It never got hard core pickup.

          1. Twain Twain

            Apparently there are 350 million G+ users. A lot of those may have been because YouTube users also sign up through G+ and Google also redirects Gmail accounts that don’t have G+ accounts to upgrade to G+.The photo tools and quality are much better than on Twitter and FB and there are some great photo and Machine Intelligence groups there.

      2. Guest

        Here’s how the learning algorithm for the priority inbox is supposed to work, according to Google’s own research paper on it.”Social features are based on the degree of interaction between sender and recipient, e.g. the percentage of a sender’s mail that is read by the recipient.Content features attempt to identify headers and recent terms that are highly correlated with the recipient acting (or not) on the mail, e.g. the presence of a recent term in the subject.Recent user terms are discovered as a pre-processing step prior to learning.Thread features note the user’s interaction with the thread so far, e.g. if a user began a thread.Label features examine the labels that the user applies to mail using filters.We calculate feature values during ranking and we temporarily store those values for later learning.Continuous features are automatically partitioned into binary features using a simple ID3 style algorithm on the histogram of the feature values.”They also provide the equation for their IMPORTANCE metric for the email (pls see image).

        1. fredwilson

          all i know is it worked brilliantly for four years and not so brilliantly for the past three months

          1. Twain Twain

            It’s a problem for them as they try to unify their ranking algorithms across all their various products. In part it’s because they likely re-index some of their semantic classifiers and knowledge representation of objects, including text.They also released Google Polls on G+ recently (after acquiring Polar) so the social weightings from that will add to the algorithm mix at some point into the Social folder of Gmail.

    2. William Mougayar

      Hmmm. I see Disqus emails split between priority and other. Not sure what’s going on there. They have a mind of their own.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I wonder what it’s doing with the comments that have the word Google in them?

    3. JimHirshfield

      Well, it learns that you open and/or reply to the Disqus comment notifications quickly, I suppose. So that must influence priority.

      1. Twain Twain

        It’s most curious because I’m a lot more active on G+ and the notification emails from that goes into Social folder.In my Primary folder I get emails that get auto-assigned with the golden tag: “important because it was sent directly to you”, i.e. my email address — and yet the sender doesn’t know and interact with me personally. I probably added myself to a mailing list they administer at some point.In any case, Google needs to fix their algorithm or lots of us will be hand-sorting our mailboxes.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Yes, they need to fix.

  3. Fernando Gutierrez

    That is why I prefer creating filters manually. It takes time and may not work as priority inbox, but you know exactly what happens.

    1. JimHirshfield

      If USV, set as Important.

    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Yes, but you can’t put the blame on Google and show a smiley face…..

  4. Chimpwithcans

    Possibly I’m missing the point – but priority inbox on my gmail account seems to be no different to any old unfiltered inbox – i get all sorts of rubbish in there. Fred, can you share what sort of filtering you have used in the past that worked, but now does not?

    1. fredwilson

      it’s hugely different. a total game changer. it filters out all the stuff i don’t want to see

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        the stuff they don’t want you to see 🙂

      2. Elia Freedman

        and apparently a bunch of the stuff you do, too.

      3. JamesHRH

        How much do you pay for it?

    2. ShanaC

      same for me. I don’t bother

  5. Seth Godin

    “It’s not me, it’s Google.”This is the rallying cry for our time, I fear.We don’t pay for Google, so we’re the product, not the customer. They’ve relentlessly created magic but also oversold that magic as a miracle, something they don’t want to spend the resources to truly deliver upon.We can wish, and they happily accept our wishes, but alas, our hearts are broken.Where do I go to get my inbox back?

    1. fredwilson

      damn. you are so right Seth. a throwaway post turns into the post for our times.

      1. JimHirshfield

        However….USV likely pays Google for email, drive, etc. And so you’re not the product, you’re the customer. Amirite?

        1. bsoist

          some of us pay for apps, correct!

        2. jason wright

          amirite – nice word Jim. sect or crystal?

        3. LE

          Sure in the sense that you are “the customer” of, for example, American Airlines.And they really care about losing you “the customer”. Don’t they.Shit like this happened way way less in “old school business”. Because even if it was a large company you had a sales rep who was up your ass and had a quota to make. And he didn’t want to loose your business. You had a point of contact to get something done. In my experience that quota alone meant the salesman didn’t say “oh I can’t help you with that you have to call our 800 number and press “2” yahder yahder yahder”. [1][1] That’s a NY version of “yada yada”.

          1. JimHirshfield

            A better oldskool comparison would be to MS Office sales, ’cause this is self-serve software sales to SMB, not big ass enterprise dog n pony show sales.

          2. LE

            I wasn’t talking about a particular part of technology sales just sales in general even for, say, something as low tech as office supplies or paper.Point being that in an effort race to the cost bottom and meet the competition and the fact that people respond primarily to price, and not the total cost (which includes time and aggravation), everything has been shoveled on the end user to clean up the mess when something goes wrong.Grumpy Gramps: Back in the early 80’s, in my first business, there were salesmen who showed up to take the orders for paper and to sell us copiers or printing machines or whatever. There were also actually these girls, get this, they were called “receptionists” and they answered the phone and took messages.

          3. ShanaC

            it sounds like there is a sales and customer support problem in software.

      2. jason wright

        how do i filter throwaway posts away from my inbox?

      3. JimHirshfield


        1. fredwilson

          that was exactly what i was thinking when i wrote that

        2. sigmaalgebra

          Let’s see: From a practiced eye, her hair, posture, and gestures are cute, but her lower jaw is too big, the end of her nose bends over instead of turns up, her nose is too long, she doesn’t have her eyes open enough, her lower lip is too thin, and her bust line is too small and too low. Other than that, she’s a very beautiful woman!Honey, in my experience, it’s nearly always the fault of the female! Likely back in middle school, high school, and college you had too many needy, lonely boys and young men, with no money and no jobs, looking at you, at least for an hour of hands-on anatomy lab! Those exciting, flattering days are gone with the wind, Honey!Instead, now, what you need to do is to solve the fundamental problem of life, i.e., (E. Fromm), do something effective about feeling alone. The first recommended solution, “love of spouse”. You will do something effective there or you will deeply regret being alone for the rest of your life. And, at your age, your good options are fading quickly.Yes, you are playing hard to get. In this case you better, at least, have a wealthy father, uncle, or brother. Or, do you write code? How are you at chemical engineering in the oil patch? Know how to make money day trading stocks? Know what James Simon’s did? Have a STEM Ph.D. and research record good enough to get research grants and university tenure? Have an MD and have passed your Boards and have a good shot at a good medical practice? I thought not.So, net, you need a husband and a house and home with where everyone is productive and happy. For that you need a good husband, and you will have play a crucial role in the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of the home. You will need a lot of desire and determination. And you will need to make oatmeal cookies, lasagna casserole, coconut cream pie, chocolate fudge brownies, Thanksgiving turkey, and Christmas decorations like his mother did!But, for the man, one able to support such a home, the schools, colleges, country clubs, yacht clubs, church youth groups, etc. are just awash with young, drop dead gorgeous, young, willing, young, eager, young, lonely, young girls/women. They all are awash in what Mother Nature has found necessary and sufficient for her main interest, motherhood.Gotta tell you, at your age, to compete, you have to come with your game face on, up your game several levels, and look like you really care. This pursuer-distancer stance you have adopted will get you a bad husband or single. Sorry ’bout that!Better call him back and invite him to a terrific candle light dinner with his favorite foods, favorite short, sheer, floral, pastel, low cut, soft bodice dress, tied up with satin ribbons and bows, etc. Might have something pretty in your hair. And might make sure your hair is close to, say, strawberry blond.Then, smile, be nice, say nice things, smile, have your eyes open, smile, look at him, hang on his every word, smile, be nice, be friendly, look lovable, sweet, darling, adorable, precious, etc. Understand?Respect him. Be responsive. Tell him about yourself, your thoughts and feelings. Get him to tell you about himself. Compliment him. Be happy. Maybe say, “You are the brightest person I ever met. You are brilliant. I believe you are some kind of genius.” At least!In the R. Strauss Ein Heldenleben, you are playing the girl acting hard to get. For you now, that won’t work anymore! Instead, in that music listen for where the girl is acting really nice. Strauss gets it across really well. Also there listen to the parts about the man and what he faces and accomplishes. Hear what he has to go through, heavily for you and the family. You do not want to do these things for yourself. Trust me on this point. Once you see, you really will respect him and be very glad you have him.Honey, the lawyers have made any man with brains and money (those two tend to go together) darned skeptical about making a long term investment in a short term asset. You will be competing with young, cute, sweet, pretty, great figure, great face, drop dead gorgeous, bubbly, perfect weight, size 4, fun, blond, happy, meek, sweet, darling, adorable precious, sexy, secondary, submissive, subservient, subordinate and maybe even a little ditsy. He knows she’s just a short term toy and sex object, but he also knows he could do worse. And if he has plenty of money, like a new Ferrari, why not, and that’s the main kind of father Mother Nature wants anyway. And you can do better, but you’ve got to up your game a lot. Start working on those oatmeal cookies!It took me a while to understand these things. They should all be in my book Girls 101 for Dummies — Boys.

      4. LE

        If you have a world class email problem why are you using a free or even low cost solution?Does Joanne cook dinners on a cheap stove and/or do you live in a house w/o all the creature comforts? Or the same house that everyone else lives in?As important as email is to you, and as annoying as the current offerings are, I think (very strongly) that it would pay to have a custom solution written to address exactly your work flow and issues.That’s why I like to be able to hack things together myself (using Unix and the command line and occasionally php or perl). I can get things just right for me. And I find it’s a tremendous productivity boost. I wish I had better skills and I could spend the time because that way I’d get something that fits me exactly. (Not that fits everyone but only me).I just got a demo account for a CRM to use because I’m absolutely buried in sales leads and various deals and the current way I do this is seriously impeding the amount of work I can get done.The CRM (which has email) is $4500 per year for 10 seats. [1] That would be well worth it but after trying the demo I found it was actually to slow for the way I work. Response not snappy enough. The things I wrote (and use for a different purpose) are much much quicker.[1] sugarcrm.com – not an endorsement so far I don’t like what I see. This is an opportunity for someone to do a better job (eh falicon?)

        1. falicon

          I have about a dozen notecards on ’email ideas, tweaks, & improvements’ from over the years…but honestly I have not had an ‘aha’ moment on how to do anything better in this realm than what others out there have…so I’ve wasted my hack time on other things I either thought I could push further or that were at least more unique/interesting to me…I would love to fix email…but it remains outside of my reach ( for now )…

          1. LE

            I think you have it wrong.Why?Because you are not fixing email you are fixing workflow and opportunity management.The idea isn’t to fix email it’s to make a system that works better and allows someone (like Fred or the local investment counselor or realtor with leads perhaps) to work more efficiently and better.In order to solve this problem you would need to spend some face time gathering facts and workflow from the people or persons that have the problem that you want to solve. You didn’t have this issue with coach wizard because you are a coach and understand the product that way. So you don’t need to visit a field. (I would of course..)When I wrote the nominal “software” for my first business I knew enough to do some things but the other things came from my manager, the people that worked for me, and most importantly understanding and observing the “problem” to be solved.One of the things that I built was an estimating system (using awk btw). It was based on the concept of “building” a quote using a terminal not a gui. It worked very well and solved a big problem in it’s simple form. Another was something that tracked jobs in house.Anyway I think if you spent a day with Fred you’d easily see and visualize an opportunity and what could be done.Here’s the thing. This is a total residual based model. You can make money with it for sure. This is not “build an app for the app store”. This is a cloud hosted solution sold the traditional way. “Here Fred try it it’s free if you like pay me $x per month” etc.

          2. falicon

            I (almost) always spend time with the problem (and get as close to the people and inside their heads as much as possible) before hacking on stuff…so agree on your approach here.I also agree that there’s money in ‘dem ‘der hills…but…and this is the kicker…the parts of the challenge that interest me are mostly about if/how A.I. and big data could help and be used…the sorts of things that really only work well at scale…and honestly, it’s one of the few mountains that I stand at the base of and say “UGH. That is a steep climb to get to that first gold pocket.”.That being said, I haven’t ruled the climb out (there are few that I have)…it’s just not in my travel plans any time soon. 😉

          3. LE

            Interesting. For me the “coin in the pocket” and practicality is a big motivator. I like things that I can wrap my head around in one way or another and are interesting and solve a problem that I have.So I’m the type of person that runs every single day but doing a triathalon isn’t something that I would even think of, or ever consider doing. I like things that I can start small and build on. Kind of like when you are a kid and you draw a house and then add all sorts of do dads to it as you go along. In the end it might actually look like a mansion.

        2. Vasudev Ram

          >That’s why I like to be able to hack things together myself (using Unix and the command line and occasionally php or perl). I can get things just right for me. And I find it’s a tremendous productivity boost.Great comment. Unix and its tools are hugely scriptable, and hence a tremendous productivity booster, as you say, much more than GUIs or Windows.Here’s a good example of how Unix command line tools can not only automate tasks, but weave together existing programs or components with much less work and greater productivity, than writing a stand alone program to do the same task:http://www.leancrew.com/all…The author may have got some things wrong in that post, and a lot of comments point out some flaws in his overall argument (wrong assumptions, comparing apples and oranges), but regardless, the script shown is a beautiful example of how Unix scripting can combine various existing (and/or custom-written) tools to achieve larger tasks that none of them could do alone, and more importantly, in many cases, do it one or more orders of magnitude faster than writing a custom monolithic program for the same task.Which is not to say that monolithic programs are the wrong choice always, though. Sometimes they can be the right choice. Also, we still have the option of doing part of the task in a monolithic way, and combining that part with other existing tools “scriptaculously” 🙂 to achieve the overall task.

          1. LE

            Thanks just read that actually.

          2. Vasudev Ram

            No problem.

    2. William Mougayar

      We all depend on Google, one way or another. In more ways than one. No matter what. Whether we like it or not. There are engrained in your digital lives.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Mother Google

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          I call uncle google … whenever my juniors ask me a technical question for which i don’t have an answer I say”Ask uncle Google”.

          1. JimHirshfield

            Uncle Google sounds creepy.

      2. JamesHRH

        Are you saying its a bad thing or just a thing?

        1. William Mougayar

          Just a fact of life, not in a bad way.

    3. ZekeV

      Paul Chiusano has a great essay on how “Worse is better” has become the programming ethos of our day. But worse is not always better. Sometimes it’s just worse.I actually *pay* for my google apps, including e-mail, and while it does seem magic at times, I feel like at any given time about 10% of functionality is broken. My partner Eric does a lot of scripting in apps to automate our business processes. And every time I look at a google scripts tutorial, it’s out of date, and they are deprecating some functionality or featureset that I thought was cool.

    4. StevenElliottJr

      I don’t promote software a lot but SaneBox is a really great tool. I actually switched off of Google recently and went with iCloud as my mail service. I felt that too much of my life was controlled within the Google ecosystem and it started to freak me out a little. The experience has been uneventful and very little interruption has occurred for me. The great thing about SaneBox is that it learns your habits and allows you to “set and forget” who you want to allow in your inbox. Everything else goes into your “SaneLater” folder which you can check when you feel like it. If there’s something or someone in there you feel should be in your inbox, just move it to your inbox. SaneBox learns that behavior and it’s done forever.

      1. lunarmobiscuit

        +1 on SaneBox. One of the few tools I’m happy to pay for. Worth every penny just for the SaneLater feature, proving a priority inbox on every device. And then it does more…

    5. tim

      I do pay, and it’s with my data and my data must be worth more than what they are giving me b/c they are quite profitable

      1. baba12

        have you read “Who owns the Future”? if not read it and maybe you shall get some answers…

        1. tim

          nope, but i’ll check it out. thanks!

    6. LE

      something they don’t want to spend the resources to truly deliver upon.Apparently not as important as spending money to allow women employees to freeze their eggs. Yes I know that was Apple and Facebook but I”m sure google will follow their lead.

    7. Lucas Dailey

      Apart from the fact that many of us do in fact pay, I feel like this is an outdated and meaningless distinction.it’s not just about ads: reduced friction and increased data mean small-scale value is quantifiable, and profitable.

    8. LE

      but also oversold that magic as a miracleI’m not seeing any examples of google overselling anything. In fact in terms of marketing of the products that they have. I have no evidence that they’ve done jack squat to do realistically any promotion at all. Perhaps PR maybe maybe but that’s about it.

    9. ShanaC

      One problem – many people here do pay for google. Fred/USV does. Hosting your own email is ridiculous, and there are huge security tradeoffs (you become a much easier spam target)The better question is why is horrible customer service in product building normalized in the valley. Why is paid google the same as free google? I don’t know.

    10. sigmaalgebra

      Where do I go to get my inbox back?The basic e-mail software between an e-mail server and a user’s computer is just dirt simple TCP/IP. It’s simple enough that can do it all just manually with the little TCP/IP program Telnet .E-mail is all just simple text, 8 bit characters (not necessarily but in nearly all the world in reality). Even the pictures are just simple characters as in simple, old typing, via the idea of base 64 encoding. All together, from the user’s side, e-mail is just dirt simple to send or receive.So, the remaining issues for a user are how to handle e-mail on the user’s computer. As I recall Fred has had such complaints before.”Don’t curse the darkness. Instead, light a candle.”There has to be a long list of e-mail client programs, that is, programs for the user’s side of e-mail. If can’t find what what or need, then outline what you do want or need and, then, write some code. If want to change it, then write some more code.For me, I use an old version of Microsoft’s Outlook. I hate it. So I use it only to send or receive e-mail. I do let Outlook save the e-mail, but I nearly never look at what is saved if only because the search features, and any access for me to the Outlook storage, is a total pain in the rear. So, for each e-mail message I care about and send or receive, I keep that in files outside of Outlook.Net, I have no trouble handling my new/old e-mail messages.Yes, if I got 1000 e-mail messages a day I’d have to do something different. I’ll jump off that bridge when and if I come to it.Indeed, I have some old software I wrote using the (elegant) interpretive scripting language Rexx and its TCP/IP interface to send/receive e-mail. I implemented an e-mail address list, groups of names, etc. And it was easy to send many e-mail messages with each customized for the receiver. I still have that software and could return to it easily.But, so far I’m getting by with Outlook, etc. and have much more important software to write, for my start-up project.But if someone needs more tools for handling e-mail, then develop them. I won’t do such work, but there is no shortage of people who would.To compose e-mail? I use just a text editor, but if want use, say, Word and ask for text or HTML output. I don’t want HTML in e-mail if only for some old, absurd security reasons.

    11. JamesHRH

      The pervasive self centered-ness and underlying “victim of a soulless corporation” aspect of this comment drives me insane.So does the “we are the product” hyper-babble. Seth, that’s just not true (although it sure makes people feel good). Even if it was true, its still irrelevant.Millennials don’t need you Pied-Pipering them into a deeper miasma of navel gazing horseshit. As a generation, they are really good at it, just by virtue of their parent’s self-centrered / hippy dippy bullshit approach to parenting.Gmail is a service, nothing more, nothing less – just like search. To semi-quote my favourite fictional philosopher Oogway ( – http://www.imdb.com/charact… :”Gmail, don’t Gmail? Noodles? Don’t noodles?”Oh, and one other fairly important thing:ITS F**KING FREE.Do you really expect reliability?Do you really expect them to listen to your wants, needs & dreams?Do you really think they give a shit about the impact of their product changes?ITS F**KING FREE!!!As there is a gigantic profile gap between you & me I’ve decided that Kurt Vonnegut might be able to cast the deciding vote. He has a pithy little quote that seems to apply:’In this world, you get what you pay for.”

      1. Vasudev Ram

        The problem is that in many cases, you don’t get even what you pay for.

    12. Steven Kane


    13. Twain Twain

      Comment was too long.

  6. pilosof

    Hop has a much simpler and effective way, http://gethop.com using social logic, people you actually talk to and all the rest… 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      alright. that’s the second suggestion for hop. if i get a third in this thread, i’m going to give it a look.

      1. Chimpwithcans

        Try hop 🙂

      2. JimHirshfield

        That’s called leading the witness. Basically, you asked for a 3rd recommendation…and you got it. 😉

        1. bsoist

          leading questions are allowed on cross examination

          1. JimHirshfield


          2. bsoist

            generally allowed with hostile witnesses too – probably why he can get away with it in the comments 🙂

          3. JimHirshfield

            Are you a lawyer. Or do you just play one on the Internet? :-O

          4. bsoist

            programmer, educator, and trouble maker – not a lawyer

          5. LE

            From watching tv shows I know you can pretty much do what you want a limited amount of time (w/o crossing certain lines) and just get a slap on the wrist from the judge. [1]You know when they say “and so when you came home you saw the dog eating food, right” and the other attorney says “I object” and the lawyers says “withdrawn” but manages to make their point.[1] Also relates to how much golf you play with the judge. Once again, from TV and movies.

        2. Andrew Kennedy

          Jim — FYI — I am getting this problem.

          1. JimHirshfield

            I’ve never seen that error. Did you refresh the page and try again? If that doesn’t work, logout of Disqus and then log in again. Also try killing the Disqus cookie.

  7. Michael FitzGerald

    So that’s where my email to you went! :)In contrast, I actually turned off that from day 1. I prefer to un-sub from the source than try and auto-filter the deluge. I see that feature and say Mailbox app as something that creates a rolling snowball “somewhere else”, and still think the 4 D’s is the best option. With the ‘Delete’ being Delete and Un-sub for lots of mails.

  8. Robert Heiblim

    I have experienced the same, with inconsistent filtering. Algorithm change? In any case, annoying

  9. rimalovski

    We do pay for gmail at NYU (which I sometimes forget), and I’ve been noticing the same thing. I’ll see if our IT folks can raise this with them and if I learn anything of substance I’ll report back.

    1. fredwilson

      yes! thanks

  10. maxciociola

    100% Agree. And the only way to move those conversation into priority or primary inbox is from mobile !

  11. William Mougayar

    I use a variation on Priority called Important. It works for me, and separates the wheat from the chaff, and looks like this is the Settings screen:

    1. JimHirshfield

      Chaff, my friend.

      1. William Mougayar

        Corrected, shief!

  12. Twain Twain

    Aargh, I hate when Disqus ends up posting multiple copies of images. They don’t show up in the little image attachment box and then I can’t delete that bit of the thread :(.

  13. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Think of similar algorithm change without telling the customer for their unmanned car!!!

  14. Donna Brewington White

    I wish I could blame Google, but it is just a continuous area for personal and professional growth for me to get better at responding to email.It always amazes me and puts me to shame that I receive some of the most prompt responses from some of the busiest and most important people I know — including you! (I try not to abuse this, but appreciate it.)I’m just not ready to trust Google to prioritize my inbox… or drive my car.

    1. JimHirshfield

      “Priority Driver”, the latest product from Google. It filters out dumb ass drivers and puts them in the slow lane.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I wish.

      2. jason wright

        they have an ejector seat on the test bed.

        1. JimHirshfield

          The eJack-U-Later?

          1. jason wright

            a violation of the disqus employee code of conduct

          2. JimHirshfield

            Off-hand remarks like that are mine and not those of my employer.

          3. jason wright


      3. panterosa,

        Where’s the true HOV Lane?no blowup dolls allowed….

        1. JimHirshfield

          Net neutrality, my friend. No HOV lanes.(As regards blowup dolls…that was supposed to be our secret! Geez).

          1. panterosa,

            It’s the mannequin types you need to avoid….

      4. JamesHRH

        Wait until you let them drive the vehicle for you……

  15. JimHirshfield

    That title!A VC…A Problem.

  16. StevenElliottJr

    I have had this problem too then I found https://www.sanebox.com and life changed for the better. I just leave my inbox unprioritized and check my SaneLater folder once at the end of the day for anything I feel should be in my inbox. Set it and forget it!

    1. Paul Miller

      +1 for Sanebox – really great service and works well with Gmail.

  17. pointsnfigures

    I use Apple’s mail. No features like that. It’s plain vanilla. I don’t know that anyone has solved the inbox problem well.

  18. Jonathan Nation

    My Solution, a modification of Deon Don – who teaches a wonderful Inbox Zero system, yet does not use Priority Inbox.Step 1. Go to the Settings, then Labs tab & turn on Multiple InboxesStep 2. Go to the Settings then Multiple Inboxes tabStep 3. in the Search Quary box for Panel 0 put this “is:important is:unread “That that will do is make a box in your inbox that is unread messages that are also marked priorityYou will also have a second box slightly below that is simply unread messages, both priority & not.Now you can simply deal with your priority ones first before looking at your “all” if you wish.If you want to go another step, you set up labels that lets you use the Inbox Zero method, or whatever you want.

  19. Jon Michael Miles

    This really brings up the idea of persistence. Not only as a way to conduct life and business, but also as business model. I tried out Boomerang – and it didn’t really work for me – but the idea is there.I’ve also been peripherally bookmarking ideas and products by surfing for them while logged into Google or Facebook. Inevitably they end up in my ad flow, which I’m counting on, acting as what I term as a behavioral bookmark.The priority inbox isn’t something I use, I just filter and into Gmail’s tabs (which I really wish I could label and sort myself) but to me really useful and reliable algorithmic sorting is in its nascency.

  20. Tracey Jackson

    I’m now obligated to look at each of their designated folders because something always ends up in the wrong place. You sometimes appear in Updates, sometimes Social. Don’t know if they are scanning content.:) I have friends who end up in Spam. So I have to check my Spam everyday. It only makes my inbox look cleaner, but does not save the time one hoped it would.

  21. jason wright

    if it ain’t broke….break it. go google, just go.missed out on any deals because of this?

  22. bsoist

    Just like I’ve been saying for almost three years – Google is losing its mind.

  23. Peter Van Dijck

    This might help..

  24. leeschneider

    Another vote for SaneBox! sanebox.com

  25. LaMarEstaba

    I don’t get enough email for Google’s algorithm changes to really impact me. I keep my email at inbox zero, but I also get something around 15-25 emails a day. I have a completely open door and anybody can email me. Volume of email is correlated with how much people want to talk to you. I will say that teenagers think that email is passé, and they don’t really know anyone who emails them. It may be a mark of my age.I did start using Bing Rewards earlier this year (Bing gives you gift cards to reward you for using their search), and I’ve found that switching search engines is not that easy. I have to go back to Google if Bing can’t find what I need. The Bing replacement UI for Google Finance, News, and Maps is awful.I found it interesting that Eric Schmidt said that Amazon was their biggest competitor. http://www.bbc.com/news/tec…. In a quick search on Bing for a new author (April Raynne) , I don’t get Amazon on the front page of my results. In a Google search, Amazon is the third result.

  26. Guy Gamzu

    There’s an architectural flaw with all email applications. All (but Hop) are still based on “inbox” and other labels / tabs for classifying the flow of information. The natural way to organise it is by people. Either a specific person or a group of people. The only exception is when we have a discussion with people added or dropped from the convo. That’s when the subject has to take over. Hop is managing it amazingly well.

  27. Raffaele Colella

    I work on personal email (not work/productivity), and I believe all the email we want to enjoy should fit in 1 screen – and the rest shouldn’t matter. At least for the average user who overall exchanges ~80 email a day.Our app, Cannonball (www.cannonball.io), automatically organizes the email in 2 sections: (1) important (people and transactions) which is roughly 1/3 of the inbox (2) subscriptions (newsletters, deals all computer generated), 2/3 of the inbox and showcased visually and grouped by sender, so you can browse the last 5 newsletter from NYT or Gilt.Users can customize across the 2 sections with a simple drag and drop with their fingers. Focused UI ruler to give the best of each section, like quick unsubscribe or bulk delete for subscriptions.We are IOS only. I wish we could be soon on Android and Mac/Pc.I hope you can try and help us improved it! ;)Raffaele

  28. Vlad Ciurca

    You should start using sanebox.com. It has been a life changer! And i do not use priority inbox, i have multiple inboxes instead to see my different sane folders.Looking forward to hearing from you, if you decide giving it a try.Vlad

  29. gorbachev

    While I don’t obviously get anywhere near the amount of email you must be getting, this is the very reason I don’t let anyone but me manage my email.Call me old fashioned, I guess.

  30. Lucas Dailey

    I had the same problem; I recently noticed emails from my ceo (whom I get most of my emails from and which I always reply to) weren’t getting flagged as important anymore.I hope it’s a blip and will be corrected, I can’t imagine the fault isn’t plain in the usage data.

  31. JoshGrot

    I’m so glad you brought this up, Fred, as I’ve been suffering through this for quite some time, experimenting unsuccessfully with fixes, scouring the message boards, etc. and wondering whether I was missing out on the hidden setting that would solve my problem. Apparently not.I often wonder what goes on at Google product management meetings when the team needs to determine which features to prioritize. They rarely seem to be the features I see bubble to the surface in the boards, but maybe I’m looking at the wrong subset of messages?Speaking of which, anyone have a good explanation for why I can’t sort email in Google by a particular field? That would save a lot of time in certain scenarios, (vs. sole ability to search for the needle in the haystack)?

    1. ErikSchwartz

      Google does many things well. Product management is not one of them.

    2. falicon

      You can’t sort because ‘search’ is at the core of everything Google…it’s just how they think and where they start from for everything. Sorting would mean that the search is close but not perfect…they would rather focus on making the search perfect (so you are more likely to see them try to get to only one result than you are to see them allow sort).

  32. baba12

    “It’s not me. It’s google ” Thats what she said, .. the new mantra for many, whether it is intelligence gathering (bad data like WMD’s, or gathering info on stuff that may not affect lives but policy decisions) The Google is making a lot of ADD infused folks to accept it as gospel truth and I wonder if some of us have the capacity to kill our conscience and take advantage of them…

  33. ErikSchwartz

    I figured it was just vacation email backlog overload.

    1. William Mougayar

      Good point. Maybe the vacation low activity reset some signals.

  34. LE

    To all those in this thread pushing http://www.sanebox.comFor me a company that has a single webpage (however nicely it’s web 2.0 design is), but doesn’t tell me anything about the company at all [1] is not a company that I am going to trust anything important to. Especially email and passwords.[1] Seriously, no “about page” no contact info, no faq just “hey sign up here”. And of course a Tony Robbins endorse manages to make the cut.

    1. Ultan

      There are all the pages you’ve mentioned. About, FAQ, contact info. Perhaps they are not easy to get to from the home page?

  35. Dale Allyn

    For me, Google adding the “Promotions” tab has caused havoc. Now many of my booking confirmation emails (e.g. hotels) and other business correspondence end up there, but gmail doesn’t pass it to my phone mail app properly. Frankly, I hate the way Google implemented the priority inbox and the other, newer tabs. They should have been options to implement as needed – like “smart folders”, so one doesn’t need to waste time untangling Google’s idea of what’s important.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      You can turn the promotions folder off under settings.

      1. Dale Allyn

        Thanks, Erik, I thought I had done that at the outset, but it reappeared and I didn’t look again. I’ll do it (again) now. I think it came back when they pushed an update. I rarely access gmail via the Web UI, so I wasn’t even aware it was happening until recently. For me, gmail is not my primary email account, as I use it for certain online commerce functions, some media, and business stuff with lower “trust requirements”.Thanks for the tip. I’ll fix that and look for other adjustments to get things back to what works for me on that account.

  36. matthughes

    Google is just doing their part to keep up with the draconian, ever-mystifying rules of email:Meaning, there are no rules, no one knows what’s going on, it’s anyone’s guess.

  37. joeagliozzo

    Google Voice is my current struggle. I’ve relied on it for 5 years, passing the number out to all my business contacts and now it seems like Google is slowly killing it off. Calls disconnect after 30 minutes, the ringback feature sporadically fails, etc. The frustrating thing is Google never offers a paid alternative, it just kills or makes the service you have come to rely on unusable.

  38. Matt Koll

    Fred, you might try Mailstrom.co. We take a power tool approach as opposed to machine learning, avoiding the kind of errors you are having.

  39. LE

    A ProblemAnd the market is tanking as well unfortunately.

  40. Christian Brucculeri

    I use Sanebox – i have some minor complaints but generally it works pretty well

  41. Marissa_NYx

    There is one other advantage in checking All Mail – serendipity. Just like a chance conversation or encounter, occasionally magic happens, you find a spark of an idea, or you decide what the hell, I’ll respond to one stranger’s email a day (like the one I sent 🙂 , you never know where this may lead. While it may be overwhelming to face a sea of emails every day , perhaps by creating your own human algorithm for scanning & picking out those that would not land in your priority box, you may also find you enjoy the process. Here is my suggestion for an algorithm:1. Allow 15 mins per day to check All Mail (5 mins to scan, 5 mins to select three emails to read, 5 mins to respond). Assume 2 emails are from people you know and 1 from someone you don’t (serendipidity )2. Set an auto response to help – eg.” Hi , let’s talk . Regards Fred 3. Mark those emails as important 4. Try it out for a week then decide to persist in daily routine or pivot.Hope you go for it !

  42. Ron Vianu

    This explains all the unanswered love letters.

  43. Sean Hull

    This is Eli Pariser’s Filter Bubble.We are trusting algorithms more and more. They lead us to restaurants, service providers, books to read, emails that get our attention.But can we blame google? It’s our job to either trust or not trust the algorithms.

  44. Henry Glover

    Google is mad at you for switching to iPhone

  45. John Revay

    Not sure if this will help you or not…perhaps this is why”Inbox is a total reinvention of email from Google”http://www.theverge.com/201…Perhaps this had something to do with as you put it ….”It feels like google has changed its priority sorting algorithm and it’s not working as well for me as it used to”

  46. JimHirshfield

    Queue Phil Collins?

  47. JimHirshfield

    Phil is more apropos for break-ups.