Control the flow of your inbound messages / email

by Pranav Dharma

When you are a famous / important person, you tend to get a lot of inbound,unsolicited messages and emails. And this causes email nightmares. Fred Wilson has declared email bankruptcy several times, Mike Arrington issued an open challenge to entrepreneurs, MG quit email and Paul Graham called out ‘solving email overload’ as a billion dollar frighteningly ambitious idea. As pervasive and ubiquitous email is, there is one inherent problem with email which causes these email overload scenarios:

Email gives no control to the recipient on who can send them an email. Also, given that email is free, people do not tend to think twice before sending an email.

So, here’s an idea on how important / famous people can control the flow of inbound messages they get. Again, this idea is not a replacement for email. And it only applies for people who get a lot of inbound email flow. So here is the gist of the idea (lets hypothetically call it MsgMe) :

Features for Recipients:

  • The recipient determines a price that the sender needs to pay to send a message to the recipient. The cost is also to deter users from sending large number of unsolicited messages. Payment doesnt guarantee a response from the recipient. This price can also be automatically adjusted to control the rate of flow of inbound messages. Too many messages and the price to send automatically goes up. The recipient can either cash out the amount at the end of the month or donate the amount to a charity of their choice
  • Recipients can blacklist / whitelist senders
  • All messages are limited to 500 characters and a 20 word subject / summary
  • No file attachments

Features for Senders:

  • Senders get a msg read receipt so that they at least get acknowledgement that their message was read
  • If the message is unread by the recipient for 15 days, the sender gets his money back
  • Senders see a percentage response rate for recipients — so they know the odds are whether a recipient will read their message

This is just a start and the very basic features that such could help famous people control their inbound flow of messages. More, advanced features can be added later.

Such an idea has been tried before – Centmail, etc. However, all of them tried to pitch this approach as a replacement for email. MsgMe on the other hand isnt a replacement for email — its purely a powerful tool for people to control their inbound message flow. Besides, other startups (Sanebox, OtherInbox etc) trying to solve the ’email overload’ problem are trying to do a better job at better email filtering, email managing etc — they dont try to address the inbound flow problem at all.