Mail Goggles Makes You Think Twice

by Mattias on October 10th, 2008 in Developer Comments, Riff Raff.

Even if excessive consumption of alcohol has grave consequences to your health, e-mailing while drunk can be even more hazardous to your relationships, private and professional alike. Google seems to think that this is enough of a problem to introduce Mail Goggles, a new experimental feature in Gmail. If you attempt to send any mail late on Friday or Saturday, Mail Goggles will prevent you from sending (and possibly later regretting) that e-mail unless you can answer a few "simple" math questions that might be a little bit harder if you are under the influence of alcohol.

So, is there any real use to this harmless feature? Well, I certainly think it might help some users, mostly by merely halting them for a fews seconds to think about the long-term consequences of their actions. Usually I am a big fan of software providing great "Undo" and "Rewind" functionality instead of asking for permission all the time. But as most of us have experienced, an e-mail sent is irrevocable by most practical means, so for now this might be the best option available.

Some of the other features to come out of Gmail Labs recently seems like they might be more useful in general. I'm particularly excited about Forgotten Attachment Reminder since I'm notorious about forgetting to attach files to my message. It might not be perfect yet, but the approach of trying to serve the user better by foreseeing and interpreting her actions is the future of software and usability.