Courteous.ly is the new free app, currently exclusive to Gmail, which scans your inbox periodically and informs other people whether your current email load is light, normal or high. This tool benefits the users by providing etiquette cues for email thereby increasing efficiency and possibly reducing stress.
What some users may not know is that Courteous.ly is actually part of a social experiment by Georgia Tech, assistant professor, Eric Gilbert. Aside from helping the general public, his main goal is “to understand if exposing hidden aspects of social media makes the media better.”
While I definitely see how Courteous.ly can be useful in certain settings such as in the business world, in the social world this innovation in email will probably morph the “To Accept or Not Accept a Relative’s Friend Request” dilemma into the “To Send or Not to Send When the Load is High” dilemma and can lead to several implications.
If people know your email load is high, they may politely wait until later to send you an email in order to increase the likelihood of your response. If their email is urgent, they may make their message more concise thereby increasing efficiency.
However, if people see your email load is low and you fail to respond in a timely manner, you may lose some credibility.
Nowadays, we voluntarily give out personal information like our home address or our favorite ice cream flavor to social media sites, such as Facebook, with rarely any benefit to us. When was the last time Ben and Jerry’s sent a pint of Cherry Garcia to your front door in exchange for your fandom?
Will Courtous.ly make more people polite and revolutionize the way we send email or is it TMI that can do more harm than good? Tell us your thoughts!