For some value of active

If, like me, you got all excited about Ev’s post saying that active Blogger users were getting Gmail invites, and if, like me, you rushed off to sign in to Blogger for the first time in months, and if, like me, you were disappointed to find that not posting at all for months didn’t qualify as active use, you might want to, like me, bang out four or five posts to that abandoned test blog you never got around to deleting, and then, like me, wander back by Blogger a few days later. Worked for me (, without their suggested full stop between first and last).

First thoughts? Their spam filtering isn’t nearly good enough yet to not list the number of unread, undeleted spam messages in the menu. I only wanted to try it because someone said that the combination of threading and no need to ever delete anything made it great for subscribing to mailing lists, especially Yahoo! Groups! with! their! (oops) horrible web interface, ramming thousands of banners and skyscrapers and interstitials in your face as you try to find that message from two weeks ago that you thought was safe to delete. To add an address for Yahoo! Groups, you first have to verify it, so I had them send the verification Friday night, while I was already late leaving for the weekend, and then when it still hadn’t shown up by Monday, had them send it again. Eventually, I did figure out that Gmail had filtered it as spam (bad idea) and wasn’t bothering to tell me that there was something in my spam folder (really awful idea).

Once the messages started flowing, I ran into my second problem. Apparently Gmail’s quoting-in-reply function works on the theory of “When speaking to Romans…” – if you reply to a message which includes a sane reply:

John Doe wrote:
> Something or other.

then Gmail will reply with a sane quote:

On Tue, 27 Apr 2004 21:00:38 -0700, Jane Roe <> wrote:
> ...

but if you reply to a message with an insane Outlook-style top-replying train-wreck quote already in it:

Yes it does, doesn't it?

-----Original Message-----
From: Jane Doe []
Sent: April 21, 2004 2:58 PM
Subject: Top-replying is bad

Have you noticed that top-replying tends to rather reverse the flow of the conversation? Especially with a multi-line header between each quoted-in-full message.

John Doe
My big tiresome signature here

then Gmail assumes that you will want to talk to those Romans in their own language, and prepares you a nice upside-down, multi-line headered reply. I’d really like to have a setting for [ ] Never make me look like a moron in replies.

(Why so harsh about top-replies? I subscribe to two mailing lists in digest form, because I really need to see about one in thirty or forty messages. Both are heavily populated with top-repliers, who never look at what they are quoting, so by the end of an active thread, my digest may have ten or fifteen copies of the earliest messages, complete with signatures, disclaimers that the message is for the use of the original recipient only, and ads from free email services. Even if it doesn’t bother you with your individual message subscription and your uncapped broadband to have ten word messages that are several hundred KB, there’s still a reason why the geekiest of the geeks (you know, the ones who started using email on a TTY with a big roll of yellow paper?) don’t do it like that. The reason is, it’s evil. There’s nothing much wrong with using Outlook or Outlook Express (assuming you know how to set them up to not be virus-spewing annoyances), but you need to use Outlook-QuoteFix. I know, even your best friend never mentioned that your email makes you look like a moron, but, sorry, it does.)


Comment by Scott Johnson #
2004-04-27 22:23:17

I’ve already got a gmail account, thanks to Nelson Minar’s generousity with his extra invites, but I’m going to go make some posts to my neglected blogger site so that I can get an account for a friend. Here’s hoping it works.

I agree, though, that the spam filtering sucks. I see much less spam in Eudora (behind its built-in Bayesian filter) than I see in my gmail account. This is certainly one area that needs some work.

Also, there are keystrokes for archiving messages and marking messages as spam, but I’m forced to use my mouse when I want to delete a message. This is not user-friendly.

And as Mark has already pointed out, it’s nowhere near accessible. And the site won’t load at all on my Treo 600. I get nothing but an error.

Comment by pixelkitty #
2004-04-27 22:51:24

Phil, my Outlook bottom replies as default – underneath the original message.

Only been using it for a couple of months, but it’s fantastic not to have to worry about it anymore.

Does confuse the 90% of email morons I deal with daily though ;p

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2004-04-27 23:33:40

They heard me screaming all the way up in Redmond? Cool! I’ll have to look at whether headers make it into either archive – for all I know, it’s all Outlook 97 and OE.

And when I’m not in full rant mode, I do realize that geeks and individuals are not Microsoft customers. Microsoft customers are people buying tens or hundreds of thousands of licenses, who have very different needs, and who may well like having entire conversations reproduced in every single message. The amount of money that HP passes on to Microsoft for me buying a computer with a preinstalled Windows OS every few years makes me completely worthless and uninteresting to MS.

Comment by Phil Ulrich #
2004-04-27 23:09:03

Hey, if you’ve got any extra Gmail invites… or any at all… *nudge* t’would be greatly appreciated.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2004-04-27 23:28:21

Just the one from Blogger (they aren’t giving you more to give away once they let you in, somewhere I didn’t notice, are they?). But surely you still have a Blogger account and a test blog in need of a few random posts? Sign in, post a few times, sign out, come back in a day or two, sign in, look above the list of blogs, was what worked for me.

Comment by John Sands #
2004-04-28 04:34:42

My Blogger blog doesn’t even work anymore because the FTP settings are obsolete, but it didn’t matter. After months of inactivity I made one post (which failed with an FTP error) then went to the Blogger page and there was my invitation on the right above ”Your Blogs”.
Thanks for the suggestion.

Comment by alanine #
2004-04-28 21:34:34

You guys are lucky. I have learnt about this blogger-gmail-invite thing from Orkut on about 22/4 and have been publishing several posts every day since then, but still to no avail.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2004-04-29 22:58:33

Rats. Just to see, I’ve been logging into and test posting on another account I had lying around (hey, back in the day I probably had 50 blogs and six or seven accounts – I was prolific at posting ”Testing foo. Again, damn it!”, I was), and tonight it finally coughed up another invite, but it turns out that Blogger had the same email address on file for that Blogger account as the first one, so clicking the link to accept the invite just told me ”you have created the account”, which was a bit scary since that account already had a bit of email I didn’t want over-written. Luckily, it didn’t, but I don’t have a spare account, either.

And typing firstlast again makes me wonder whether anyone has signed up for the literal firstlast or first.last…

Trackback by Sandspace #
2004-04-28 10:55:30

Gmail – the Magic Bag for email

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