General Question

flo's avatar

Is it a good thing or a bad thing for the senders of email to know that the receipients are deleting without reading?

Asked by flo (7513 points ) January 20th, 2013

This is part of a conversation where the 2 people involved were in different places: “I can see he was deleting my email, so I coudn’t communicate with him…” (the person stole his cellphone and he was trying to get it back, it was in the news)
I find it is a private matter what a recipient is deleting them or not for security reasons. That would set an mentally unwell ex, a stalker off, no?

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15 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t believe they could see the email was being deleted without being read. I think they were guessing. There’s no way you can tell if someone deleted it without reading it.

elbanditoroso's avatar

As the recipient, it is my choice what I do with incoming email. it is NOT the business of the sender. No mail system should give that information back to the sender.

Gabby101's avatar

Outlook has this feature, but it can be misleading because if you read the email in the preview pane and then delete it, it is flagged as deleted and unread, which is not accurate.

I once worked for an attorney who made an ass out of herself by calling someone out for not reading her emails and deleting them – turns out it was the situation just described. Oops!

CWOTUS's avatar

That’s one thing that I’ve learned about Outlook, @Gabby101. I have it set up so that the preview pane never “opens” mail. So few senders to me ever get a return receipt, even if they have that feature set up. The only times I actually “open” mail (and not always, even then) is to get a full screen view and to reply.

glacial's avatar

Yes, I had the same thing in Eudora. I read all of my mail, but I probably only “opened” about half of it.

gambitking's avatar

It is possible to know whether a recipient is reading your email or not in some cases.

Regardless of your reason for needing to know the message status, I would think having more information rather than less is a good thing.

flo's avatar

I fully agree with @elbanditoroso.

@Gabby101 OMG! oops! is right.

@CWOTUS, @glacial Outlook, Eudora, Do you know any other email provider? I hope not. Do you get to click the option or is it the default position? And is there “Are you sure you want to” kind of question accompanying it?

@gambitking Not for me. Even if it would be more imformation for me whether the recipient deleted it without reading it or not, the recipient’s right to privacy trumps that. as I stated in my OP, That would set an mentally unwell ex, a stalker off, no?

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, for corporate email systems I’ve had exposure to Banyan Vines and Lotus Notes. In fact, we’ve had so much of our business in Notes that we’ll be retaining that for its database properties for a long time to come, I think.

As to your other questions, I don’t know what the “default position” for a newly set up Outlook client is. It wasn’t my default, but I didn’t set up my own account.

glacial's avatar

@flo I haven’t used Eudora in many years, but as I recall it was an option to select for overall handling of mail – what I was choosing was to be able to read each email in what they called the “preview pane”. It didn’t mean getting or giving any extra information; all it meant is that I didn’t have to click one extra time to read each email (and I was happy to have fewer clicks to make).

So, any email that I deleted after reading it in the preview pane only would technically have have been “unopened”, even though I did actually read it. The point is, your friend might know that the emails they sent are “unopened”, but they cannot know for certain if those emails are unread.

flo's avatar

@CWOTUS Interesting.
@glacial At least it is an option @@ It is misinformation as @Gabby101 pointed out.

flo's avatar

@glacial Re. ”...but they cannot know for certain if those emails are unread.” I think it wouldn’t even occur to them it could have been read. They would assume it is not read. That is what is intuitive, I’m thinking. They should keep the not having to click each email part and drop the other part.

glacial's avatar

@flo Yes, I agree that would be simpler. I think their justification had something to do with it being less likely to pick up a virus from an email in the preview pane than from an actual opened email. That kind of sounds like BS to me… I don’t know whether it is actually safer, but I think it was believed to be at the time.

dabbler's avatar

@wundayatta is correct the sender can’t tell the email was being deleted without being read. Further, the sender can’t tell if it was deleted either.

There’s nothing in the internet email system (SMTP/POP3) that would allow the sender to know whether or not you ever read their email. There is an option for a sender to request a receipt that their email was received, and the receiver can elect to send the receipt or not. But there is nothing about that to indicate whether or not the message was read.

Email systems within a company (not internet email, SMTP/POP3) can have all kinds of options, though.

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SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Slightly off-topic, but related and relevant—never assume that someone’s ignoring you and not reading your emails. People change and delete their email addresses (this is especially true for employees who use a work address and then change jobs). There can be server problems, or other technical issues, that drop messages into the ether (unusual, but it happens).

I’d thought that the sender would always get an error message for undelivable email. Unfortunately, this isn’t true.

Someone from the other side of the world was planning a trip to near where I live. She sent multiple emails to an old, no-longer-existent address. She never heard back from me, so she thought that I was angry for some reason and snubbing her. Of course, I would have loved to see her, but I never even knew that she’d been here.

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