"Check your MeMail" June 9, 2013 5:13 PM   Subscribe

I've been wondering: What is the thinking behind a poster offering up "Check your MeMail" (and nothing else) in response to an AskMe?

I'm trying to think of a scenario where this approach is useful and necessary (vs. just sending the MeMail, without announcing it in the thread). The only one I've been able to come up with is:

1. The Asker is brand-new to MetaFilter, and so, may not be clued into MeMail; AND

2. The info contained in the MeMail'd answer is so urgently time-sensitive that if the Asker doesn't see it ASAP, it will no longer be useful.

If either 1 or 2 doesn't apply, then the in-thread directive is no longer necessary. If it's an experienced user, they'll already know to keep an eye on their inbox; or, if it's not a time-sensitive piece of advice, it can wait till the noob user stumbles across their MeMail.

Maybe there are other scenarios I'm missing?

I sometimes flag them as noise, but mostly ignore 'em and jog on. What do other people make of the "Check your memail" thing?
posted by nacho fries to Etiquette/Policy at 5:13 PM (59 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The "You've got MeMail" icon is inconspicuous and easily missed by some (like me); alerting them that they've got mail ensures your advice gets through.
posted by fatbird at 5:15 PM on June 9, 2013 [39 favorites]


I don't check my memail because it's all IRL alerts. I should probably turn that off.
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think there is a contingent that would rather pm someone with an answer/advice that they aren't keen on dropping in an active thread. Perhaps someone is uncomfortable disclosing a medical condition, an experience with abuse, a kink, etc.
posted by msali at 5:19 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


i've been here over 10 years and i constantly miss memails for weeks - especially after i post a thread because i get the memail notification for the thread itself and i if i don't clear it out, i just mentally stop looking there.
posted by nadawi at 5:20 PM on June 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Go with the "ignore 'em and jog on" bit.
posted by edgeways at 5:25 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The asker should check their memail?
posted by unSane at 5:26 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


they'll already know to keep an eye on their inbox

This is not the case. There was an incident a while back where a longtime, high-profile member realized that he hadn't checked his MeMail in months, and was astounded at all the things people had written to him.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:27 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's one of two things: one, they don't want the mail to be missed, two, they want to provide an answer that can be marked as best answer or favorited based on whatever they have written in the email.
posted by kate blank at 5:29 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


What do other people make of the "Check your memail" thing?

While I'd love it if everyone were aware of all the great features of this place, they aren't always. So in an AskMe thread that might be on a sensitive topic, we'll usually leave one "Check your MeMail" answer but if the thread starts filling up with them (or we have some reason to believe that the OP does, in fact, know all about MeMail) we'll delete them as noise.

I have some large number of possibly conflicting Greasemonkey scripts running (and I try to turn my MeMail off when I'm not working so people don't send mod requests there) that obscure the little envelope sometimes so if it were my question, a "Check your MeMail" answer might be helpful depending on circumstance. It's fine to flag them if you want to, jogging on is also fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:32 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I usually suspect that the answer contains sensitive info that may be relevant to the asker but not something that they want revealed to everyone. And yes, I think many people do not check their MeMail or have those alerts set to an email account that isn't their main one.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:32 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Answers are primarily for the asker, but a thread may be useful to others as well. By posting in thread to check MeMail, the commenter also identifies themselves to anyone else who might need answers.
posted by booksherpa at 5:38 PM on June 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


I usually mefi from my phone and the "MeMail" option is all the way at the very bottom where I never scroll to. So I suppose it is helpful to know if you have a response to an Ask by memail that way.
posted by Conspire at 5:42 PM on June 9, 2013


What is the thinking behind a poster offering up "Check your MeMail" (and nothing else) in response to an AskMe?

I am very guilty of this. I do it because as others have said, the MeMail icon isn't that big and it doesn't jump out at me, so I assume it doesn't jump out at others either. Also as booksherpa says, more than once my "check your MeMail" post has garnered MeMails in turn from people with related questions who don't want to clutter the thread.

As for the reason I reply via MeMail and not in-thread, well, sometimes I don't want to start or join an argument about some tetchy subject on AskMe. Weight training, self-defense, erotica and animal control are all subjects I am very experienced with and have strong opinions about. However, I've seen those opinions start arguments, so I post them in a MeMail instead of to the thread.
posted by Sternmeyer at 5:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did this once in a question related to twins parenting. The OP was receiving what I felt was poor advice from a bunch of singleton parents, but I didn't want to engage negatively in the thread. So I told the OP privately why I thought the advice in-thread was poor and offered my own perspective (as a dad with twins).
posted by werkzeuger at 5:47 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


'Check your memail' doesn't harm a thread, so if it even slightly increases the chances that someone will see a response, it makes sense to do it. I don't see why something would need to be time sensitive to be accorded that relatively painless reminder. I can see Jessamyn's point about one being enough, but really, other than them piling up, what downside is there to be avoided?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:48 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just to clarify: I understand why folks choose to MeMail their responses for privacy reasons.
posted by nacho fries at 5:50 PM on June 9, 2013


I always thought people dropped a "check your MeMail" into a thread to slyly say, "hey everybody! I know something but don't want to share it BUT I want everyone to know that I have WISDOM so nyyyah", thus making Ask Metafilter less useful for everyone involved.

Of course, my view towards the intentions of other members of the human race often ends up coming out all screwy and incorrect, so what the hell do I know anyway.
posted by item at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can have your MeMail forwarded to your email. Those of you who miss MeMails, is there a reason you haven't chosen to do that?
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


At one point in time, a long time ago, when I was using the internet and someone sent me an email, my browser would sound a chime when I logged in and send a pop-up, and a synthetic human voice would announce, "You've got mail!" I think they even made a movie about it.

Things went on, as they do, and that became annoying, so it stopped. I prefer the subtler indication on MeFi, but like others I often don't notice it. If I'd asked a question on AskMe, I wouldn't mind a reminder in the thread to check my MeMail.

So, you know: jog on.
posted by trip and a half at 6:10 PM on June 9, 2013


You can have your MeMail forwarded to your email. Those of you who miss MeMails, is there a reason you haven't chosen to do that?

Yup. I'm one of those people, and guess what? I just this second learned that I could have my MeMail forwarded. Now that I know that's an option, I'm more likely to use it. So thanks for sharing that bit of knowledge!
posted by palomar at 6:13 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've not posed a question yet on AskMe, but if I did, I'm guessing I'd be watching replies (and my MeMail) like a hawk. (As I am now with this MetaTalk thread.)

It sounds like that is not the case for many of you Askers? You post a question, and perhaps step back from it (and your MeMail)?
posted by nacho fries at 6:14 PM on June 9, 2013


I usually don't like adding a "check your MeMail" comment because if I'm that concerned about being discreet I probably don't want to draw any attention to my involvement with the issue at hand, and I'm also probably not answering a question of such an urgent nature that the asker needs to make sure they find my message ASAP.

(And yeah, if I didn't have my MeMail forwarded I'd never notice the mail icon.)
posted by Room 641-A at 6:24 PM on June 9, 2013


(And yeah, if I didn't have my MeMail forwarded I'd never notice the mail icon.)

This is totally true for me, too, and I live here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:35 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've sent people private answers a couple of times, and I think I would have felt less like I was sneaking around behind people's backs if I'd noted it in the question thread, so that's what I plan to do in the future.
posted by jamjam at 6:37 PM on June 9, 2013


Those of you who miss MeMails, is there a reason you haven't chosen to do that?

A lack of awareness that this was a possibility?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:41 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You post a question, and perhaps step back from it (and your MeMail)?

Yep, and you may find over time you too prefer to do it that way. I'm one of those people that fusses and fusses with my posts until they're as good as I can make them and then it's a wrench to let them go out into the wider MetaFilter world. So for me and I know some others, it's a happier and healthier thing to post and then get up and disengage from the computer for a bit.

Also, I have to say that the one time someone sent me an email (not Memail but actual email, somewhat unusually) in response to an Ask I posted, I was really glad they didn't put their (on-topic but fighty) advice in the thread itself as their advice would have thoroughly derailed it.
posted by librarylis at 6:43 PM on June 9, 2013


If you choose to have memails forwarded, then you tend to read them in your email client and never deal with them in memail. Which is how come I currently have 157 new memails.

Pony request: bulk 'mark as read' for memails. PLEASE.
posted by unSane at 6:58 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most of my memail is "an event in your area" alert. I don't want those all being forwarded to my regular email. I'm in NYC, there's quite a few of them.

Also I thought it was as someone above said 'a way to show you have some info on that topic in case a future reader also wants to contact that person about that topic'. And it may be a recommendation or story they don't want to share with everyone. To me it totally makes sense. Full stop. (To combine two meta-talks today!).
posted by bquarters at 7:05 PM on June 9, 2013


I think context matters. If someone asks "What is it like to be a millionaire?" and you are a millionaire, there are a few reasons you might not want to say, "MeMail me." in a thread. Someone once said "MeMail me." in response to a question about local shortcuts and I found it frustrating. I didn't blame them for not wanting to tell everyone -- and I wouldn't have, either -- but in that case I'd rather the person just be helpful behind the scenes.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:40 PM on June 9, 2013


Yeah, but I don't think people are talking about posting "memail me" requests, the complaint seems to be about posting a "check your memail" alert.

and I can confirm that the few times I've done it, it's because I've memailed an answer because the response was too personal for the full site at large, and I also wanted to make sure that the asker saw it and didn't write off the "you've got mail" alert as "oh that must be another IRL notice" and they ignore it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:45 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oops, yes, that's what I meant. But same difference.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:53 PM on June 9, 2013


To be clear: my question isn't a complaint. I figured people were doing "Check your MeMail" -- and the mods were allowing it -- for good reasons that simply weren't apparent to me.

People have explained that MeMails aren't top-of-mind for them while using the site, and that it is personally important to them that their answer not go missing to an Asker who might likewise be less keyed into MeMail.

It also hadn't occurred to me that some people drop that notification in the thread for other readers, present or future, to potentially contact them behind the scenes. Interesting to know.
posted by nacho fries at 8:11 PM on June 9, 2013


"Well, if (a) the asker didn't specifically request mail and (b) the user doesn't know if the asker checks their mail (or mefimail) regularly, letting them know about the sending of mail in-thread (the one place a user can be sure the asker will look) is a way of making sure the mail gets read." That was cortex's answer when this question was asked before.
posted by John Cohen at 8:29 PM on June 9, 2013


I've done it when I wanted to make an offer of x to a particular poster, but not something I want to make available to the entire internet. It offers a somewhat private place out of sight of anyone who stumbles by, whether now or who-knows-when in the future.
posted by easily confused at 9:00 PM on June 9, 2013


Sometimes people say, "Email in profile" when there is a particular type of question raised on other parts of the site.
posted by mlis at 9:30 PM on June 9, 2013


We gots skeletons, man. Big ones. And when I think another person needs a tinfoil hat to protect them from thetans disguised as Mefites, I tell them to check their MeMail. They can't check their own until Xorp shows up.
posted by discopolo at 10:19 PM on June 9, 2013


I must say, I find the Memail icon a little overly puny. It would be nice if it were a bit more noticeable to get mail there.

Understood Greasemonkey or Stylish could help me out there.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:24 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Check your Memail" never bothered me. I think it's fine to identify oneself as someone with knowledge/help (to current and future readers) and still keep the matter itself private.

Not sure how often Memail is used, but for me it is rare so I do not check the icon/inbox often and could probably easily miss a Memail.

As for sending Memails instead of posting in an active thread; I have done so maybe two times. One time was a detailed, somewhat time sensitive long winded thing that did not add to the thread (someone needed some help with customer care in a foreign language) and they totally missed my Memail and noticed it maybe 3 weeks later.
The other time was to keep things private. But I don't remember if I made references to my Memails in the threads, guess not.
posted by travelwithcats at 10:50 PM on June 9, 2013


Seems like this place needs a much more conspicuous "Check you Memail" notification, and maybe an even more conspicuous one-time notification (with music and dancing girls) to let new users know there is such a thing as Memail and here are the basic features.
posted by pracowity at 11:41 PM on June 9, 2013


I don't receive Memail very often so I tend not to look for it. There have been several occasions where I haven't noticed I've received something until several days after it was sent. The indication that there is something in your inbox is not very prominent so those of us who don't get much Memail activity easily miss it.
posted by Decani at 3:53 AM on June 10, 2013


You can have your MeMail forwarded to your email. Those of you who miss MeMails, is there a reason you haven't chosen to do that?
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:09 AM on June 10


Well, TIL. I had no idea.
posted by Decani at 3:54 AM on June 10, 2013


I've not posed a question yet on AskMe, but if I did, I'm guessing I'd be watching replies (and my MeMail) like a hawk. (As I am now with this MetaTalk thread.)

I've had one AskMe (of, apparently 30) get a reply via MeMail. Maybe it's the sort of questions I ask or maybe not, but replies via MeMail are not something I'm usually anticipating. I do actually forward MeMail to email, but to an account that gets a lot of email I don't need to read, so even then it's easy to miss one email amid 17 from Amazon trying to get me to buy random stuff. So then you'll say "Surely you should change what email address it sends to." And maybe I should, but I get so little MeMail (apparently because I don't live in New York) that I can't be bothered really. Plus most of it is posting notification and AskMe reminders which I don't really need send to a more urgent email address.
posted by hoyland at 5:05 AM on June 10, 2013


Most of my memail is "an event in your area" alert. I don't want those all being forwarded to my regular email. I'm in NYC, there's quite a few of them.

There is a solution to this, which is to unchecked the box in preferences to receive IRL alerts.
posted by terrapin at 5:19 AM on June 10, 2013


I've memailed answers without noting it in thread, and also done so while checking it in thread. I have noted it in thread when:

1) The poster is someone I haven't seen posting often, so I'm not sure if they check Metafilter often enough to scan the memail notification.

2) The subject is one I have a lot of knowledge about that would be broadly applicable, and I figure whoever wants can message me privately about it.
posted by corb at 5:30 AM on June 10, 2013


> To be clear: my question isn't a complaint. I figured people were doing "Check your MeMail" -- and the mods were allowing it -- for good reasons that simply weren't apparent to me.

Then why were you flagging them?
posted by languagehat at 6:42 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've always assumed it was to bug ME.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:45 AM on June 10, 2013


Huh... the 'Check your MeMail' thing has never bothered me, because it usually shows up in response to questions that are of a delicate nature (either legally or biologically) and I assume that the person sending a MeMail has good reason to keep it private; it's none of my business to second guess that.
You can have your MeMail forwarded to your email. Those of you who miss MeMails, is there a reason you haven't chosen to do that?
People have way too many proprietary online community private messaging systems to keep track of, and each one behaves differently with different options... I expect it's a combination of "I didn't even know that option was there and "Seemed like a good idea at first but now all these notifications pile up and aaaargh I'm going to just turn it off altogether."
posted by usonian at 8:41 AM on June 10, 2013


the man of twists and turns: "realized that he hadn't checked his MeMail in months, and was astounded at all the things people had written to him."

*cough*
posted by zarq at 9:11 AM on June 10, 2013


zarq, I'll send you a Memail with a cough cure.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:44 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I checked my MeFiMail, and the message was just a single word: "privilege."
posted by Eideteker at 12:41 PM on June 10, 2013


No, no, that was your Inboxable Backpack.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


OP, check your MeFiMail.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 2:20 PM on June 10, 2013


I think there's a couple of other things:

1) It's no bad thing to want to be validated as the kind of person who'll write a helpful private message to someone. I mean, if we're honest, a lot of why we answer AskMe questions is to be known to know things. It's part of our need to play a certain social role.
2) It doesn't hurt for other people to know that the question's being answered by someone else too.It may make them feel more like writing their own answer.

So above the pragmatics of making sure the message is delivered, there's the basic social role that AskMe provides, and how MeMail messages fit in that.
posted by ambrosen at 4:18 PM on June 10, 2013


Reasons for sending a memail instead of posting in the thread are well trodden up thread, so I'm not going to rehash why I send memail. I noticed that sometimes when I sent someone a memail, I would get a response back a couple of weeks to a couple of months later saying, "hey, thanks for the advice, just saw this." After this happened a handful of times, I started occasionally adding "OP, check your memail" to the thread. Also discussed upthread is that the memail feature isn't exactly front-and-center in the UI, and people turn off the forwarding of memail to their real email account. I would be curious to find out from PB or Cortex how many users on meta have unread mail, and how many (if it is possible to tell) have 100% of their messages marked unread.
posted by kovacs at 6:24 PM on June 10, 2013


Then why were you flagging them?

I thought they might be noise. But as I stated, I also thought I might be missing something. Hence, my question here.
posted by nacho fries at 7:22 PM on June 10, 2013


I see "Check your MeMail" as shorthand for "I believe I have something to contribute toward answering your question, I think it would be helpful for us to have an extended conversation about it, but although I don't mind being contacted by other people for advice on this or related topics I'd rather not make it trivial for Google to associate my name with some of the keywords those conversations will involve".
posted by flabdablet at 3:20 AM on June 11, 2013


My reasons for writing "check your MeMail".

1. Fear the don't know about MeMail.
2. Informing others reading the thread (or finding it in search, later) that I have expertise on topic, that they can also access by memailing me. (Think job stuff regarding my employer, for example.)
posted by gregglind at 5:45 AM on June 11, 2013


they'll already know to keep an eye on their inbox

Why do you assert that? I pretty much forget MeMail exists on a monthly basis.
posted by spaltavian at 9:49 AM on June 11, 2013


I asserted it because I wrongly assumed other people are as email-fixated as I am.

Every time I log in, I look first at the email icon, even though I've only ever received a handful of messages from folks. I know now, from this thread, that this isn't how other people engage with the interface.
posted by nacho fries at 7:31 PM on June 11, 2013


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