Message inbox export? August 10, 2009 11:09 PM   Subscribe

Request for feature - message export functionality.

May we have a message export button?

Looking at the functionality I realize messages may not be threaded or contain much metadata, so I realize it might need to be just "inbox file" and "outbox file" or something simple.

But even that would be handy. Plaintext, flatfile, CSV, whatever.
posted by loquacious to Feature Requests at 11:09 PM (37 comments total)

cue "mefimail is supposed to be simple and is not high priority right now" in 3... 2... 1...
posted by qvantamon at 11:47 PM on August 10, 2009


yeah, the current position on adding features to mefimail is that it's intended to be simple and they won't add anything to it, most likely
posted by flatluigi at 12:54 AM on August 11, 2009


MeFiMail's supposed to be a simple system, but we're also supposed to own and have some control over our own words. It drives me crazy that SMS messages on cellphones seem totally inaccessible. Each message is tiny, it's text, so what's the problem getting them off the phone? But try it sometime.

I heartily second loquacious in the hope for access to this stuff, perhaps somehow lumped into the present export function?
posted by cgc373 at 1:17 AM on August 11, 2009


A message export function will be much easier than dozens of 'print screen' images for the defamation lawsuit.
posted by bystander at 1:24 AM on August 11, 2009


Damn, I thought I was drunk.
posted by loquacious at 2:16 AM on August 11, 2009


flagging own comment kthx.
posted by loquacious at 2:17 AM on August 11, 2009


You can already have your MefiMail sent to your regular e-mail account.
posted by Eideteker at 4:04 AM on August 11, 2009


You can the MeMails you receive forwarded to an e-mail account, not the ones you send.

And if they ever get that export comments function working again (have they already?) it would be swell if they could do the same for MeMail. I don't think I'd ever use it for anything, but it's nice to know it's there.
posted by Kattullus at 4:13 AM on August 11, 2009


The simplest way to do this would be to export all of MetaFilter and then grep out just your memails.
posted by DU at 4:27 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've created a Greasemonkey script that will allow you to do this.

1) Install the script.
2) Go to your inbox, and then to the message you'd like to save.
3) Highlight the text, and copy
4) Paste into somewhere else

You're welcome!
posted by Plutor at 5:25 AM on August 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


I like this pony, even though I never get any MeMail *sniff*
posted by double block and bleed at 6:29 AM on August 11, 2009


Well, I don't think it's a crazy idea or anything, but it's early and I haven't had any coffee yet so I probably shouldn't try speaking for anyone else on the team.

And if they ever get that export comments function working again (have they already?)

I didn't know that it (might have been supposed to have) stop working.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:09 AM on August 11, 2009


I came in here ready to decry the off-shoring of our massages.
Then I remembered the greatness that is a 6'3'' blonde Russian masseuse.
Then I re-read the title.

I didn't know that it might have been supposed to have stop working.
No coffee, indeed.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:15 AM on August 11, 2009


cortex: I didn't know that it (might have been supposed to have) stop working.

Oh hey there it is after all.

For some reason I assumed in my caffeine-free early morning state that it had been shut down along with the infodump.
posted by Kattullus at 7:19 AM on August 11, 2009


Nope. And I'm even working on retconning that whole Infodump plotline, too.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:23 AM on August 11, 2009


This time you should totally work a mean witch, a friendly hobo, and a fleshlight into the story.
posted by item at 7:44 AM on August 11, 2009


You know, the one thing I suggested that went over like a lead rock would've, admittedly through a somewhat off-angle way, provided this. Since MeFi Mail can also be sent to your e-mail, then you've already got incoming mail "exported" in that way – all we need is the ability to cc: ourselves on outgoing mail (a la "Send a copy to yourself? [ ]") and we'd be able to keep a copy of our MeFi message store with our other e-mails. But, as they won't implement that, the probability of this being implemented is fairly low too, I imagine.
posted by WCityMike at 7:50 AM on August 11, 2009


Enough of this functionality nonsense. The People demand entertainment, by which I mean Markov Filter. And by The People, I mean me. I've had a quart of coffee (datapoint).
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:51 AM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gah. "You know, the one thing I sugg..." Mathowie, any chance we'll ever get that edit-after-posting feature that was demoed?
posted by WCityMike at 7:57 AM on August 11, 2009


From now on I think I'll end all my comments with "(datapoint)" (datapoint).
posted by Kattullus at 7:57 AM on August 11, 2009


The People demand entertainment, by which I mean Markov Filter.

Improving the way that works so that it's both (a) secure and (b) reasonably fast has been kind of a tough nut to crack. pb came up with some very good ideas for it but our pilot program pretty much cratered; I'm going to go give my perl another look at some point and see if I can improve things there. But it's a hard problem with very little priority, so it may be a while yet.

But, as they won't implement that, the probability of this being implemented is fairly low too, I imagine.

One vote in favor of this is that it'd be a pretty simple design-and-use thing -- a flat dump of a users's emails into a text file ala what we do with user comment export, probably -- and wouldn't involve actually increasing the complexity of mail-handling for anyone.

Not to say, again, that anyone on staff other than me is necessarily in favor of this, but it is a somewhat different situation and as far as that goes may be a good solution for the core problem behind your request too: having offline access to all sent/received mefimail if you need to search/reference it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:57 AM on August 11, 2009


What this site needs is a good old-fashioned API so that we can get whatever data we want off the site, whenever we want it.

I propose a data protocol committee meeting, to be held somewhere nice, this October. We'll hammer out draft 1 specs while getting hammered at the hotel bar. With luck and more quarterly regional specs committee meetups to be held in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Pebble Beach, Tokyo, and so on, we should have something for pb to work on by mid-July, 2011, with a final ship date for a tested and debugged version 1 no later than August 28 of that year.

Who's in?
posted by ardgedee at 8:07 AM on August 11, 2009


But it's a hard problem with very little priority, so it may be a while yet.

You're harshing my coffee buzz.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:13 AM on August 11, 2009


cortex: "One vote in favor of this is that it'd be a pretty simple design-and-use thing -- a flat dump of a users's emails into a text file ala what we do with user comment export, probably -- and wouldn't involve actually increasing the complexity of mail-handling for anyone."

Not that I want to turn this into a referendum on my idea, but that "it will increase the complexity of mail-handling" argument never held any water for me. The "cc: yourself" checkbox is present on about eight out of every ten message forums, most of which are inhabited by people who I would not consider fairly computer-literate. By comparison, I doubt Mefites would have a problem with the concept, if computer-illiterate people routinely don't when dealing with the appearance of the feature in about twenty thousand other forums (not too much of an exaggeration when considering the prevailance of certain message-forum softwares).
posted by WCityMike at 8:23 AM on August 11, 2009


cortex: " as far as that goes may be a good solution for the core problem behind your request too: having offline access to all sent/received mefimail if you need to search/reference it."

No, having offline access wasn't my purpose. Simplifying my life by reducing the number of places in which e-mail is stored and resides for me was my purpose. MeFi Mail already makes half the journey by sending my e-mail a copy of the message I received, and the other half of that journey is that feature.
posted by WCityMike at 8:26 AM on August 11, 2009


Joking aside, I've established that this is somewhat possible through Greasemonkey. I'm only about 25% sure that it's a smart idea to release a script that spiders your MefiMail and outputs a CSV file for you, though. Thoughts?
posted by Plutor at 8:35 AM on August 11, 2009


Oh yeah, it works, and it's spectacular. I only wish data urls allowed me to pass a Content-Disposition header or something like that, so the "save this file" dialog wouldn't look like garbage.
posted by Plutor at 8:48 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Count me among those who would be happy with some kind of inbox/sent flat file export. My need isn't critical, and could probably be accomplished with cut-and-paste, but as time goes on, that becomes increasingly unwieldy.

Not that I'm documenting my correspondences here for any kind of nefarious purpose involving a secret cult bent on world domination or anything. So don't even think that be the reason I want it.

Because it's not.
posted by quin at 9:22 AM on August 11, 2009


Although I really like flat-file (or better yet, XML) export features, the more I think about it the more a "BCC yourself" feature seems like the simplest and most elegant solution, at least from the user's perspective. If you had that, people could just set up a rule in Gmail (or whatever) to file away their BCCed MeMails in their sent items box, and then they'd have everything in one place — no mucking about with dumpfiles.

The problem with implementing any sort of messaging is that people pretty quickly decide that they want to integrate it (whatever it is; email, chat, scrolls of flashpaper carried by pigeons) with their existing communications in One Great Big Archive.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:32 AM on August 11, 2009


Although I really like flat-file (or better yet, XML) export features, the more I think about it the more a "BCC yourself" feature seems like the simplest and most elegant solution, at least from the user's perspective.

I don't feel super strongly about that one one way or the other, but one of the things that I think is comparatively more attractive about the flat dump vs. the cc option is that the latter only works (as does the current forwarding) from the point that a given users elects to enable it. There's no way to get at the older exchanges with that method.

The flat dump would allow anyone to get the whole content of their mefimail archive after the fact, rather than having to take preemptive action in order to have access to their archive.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:03 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


You also run the risk of someone using the cc address to spam someone. A roundabout way of doing it (and there are ways to validate against it certainly), but a possibility.
posted by juv3nal at 11:57 AM on August 11, 2009


juv3nal: True, but these possibilities also exist with the current setup, which lets you forward messages to an external email account. Anytime you are sending out email on behalf of users, you run into spam concerns.

It's been a while since I set it up, but IIRC the external email address is validated using a link in a test email, so it's already taken care of.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:14 PM on August 11, 2009


But even that would be handy. Plaintext, flatfile, CSV, whatever.

I am late to this party but it would be cool to export as mp3. Preferably with voice options. e.g. saucy cortex.
posted by special-k at 1:36 PM on August 11, 2009


Audiobook versions available at reasonable rates!
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:49 PM on August 11, 2009


This is another example of why I don't think MeFi mail was a great idea. Email is just a better and more flexible way to send one-to-one messages. The only real advantage to MeFi mail I see is that lets you avoid disclosing your email address.
posted by gsteff at 3:57 PM on August 11, 2009


After running it by Matt and pb and implementing a couple of their suggestions, I've been given the go-ahead to release MefiMail exporter, a Greasemonkey script for all of your archival needs.
posted by Plutor at 9:30 AM on August 12, 2009


Thanks, Plutor.

I don't really use greasemonkey, but it's nice to know it's there.
posted by loquacious at 6:52 PM on August 12, 2009


« Older Editorial or not?   |   Mad Clown Love, Ninjas Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments