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Enhancing broadcast e-mails based on workgroup feedback Disclosure Number: IPCOM000178089D
Original Publication Date: 2009-Jan-15
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-Jan-15
Document File: 3 page(s) / 74K

Publishing Venue



Disclosed is a system for providing additional information to e-mail recipients based upon input from trusted members of a workgroup who received the same e-mail message. The disclosure describes a feedback system that stores categorizations from co-recipients in a shared location such that members of the workgroup can manage their e-mails more effectively by considering various aspects of the communal workgroup categorizations. In one implementation, the feedback is stored in a database, and standard e-mail header fields are used to convey the e-mail categorizations to the recipients.

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Enhancing broadcast e-mails based on workgroup feedback

This article addresses a problem in the management of e-mail messages. In particular, we propose an approach designed to help an individual in a workgroup deal with their e-mail workload by providing additional information about the broadcast e-mail messages they have received.

    The approach is applicable to mail managed by a server shared by a single workgroup. A workgroup is a loose collection of people who are working in a common environment such as a corporation, corporate department or development group. Each member of the workgroup typically receives a number of e-mails broadcast to the entire group.

    Today, e-mail senders can provide some limited set of metadata about the e-mail, such as 'high importance', or 'return receipt requested'. Furthermore, upon receipt at the final destination the e-mail server may perform some static analysis of each e-mail message, such as a virus check or spam analysis, and flag the e-mail with additional metadata accordingly for consideration by the e-mail recipient. In known solutions, e-mail clients will consider this metadata and perform actions such as sending a return receipt, refusing to open viral attachments or move e-mail into Junk folders (i.e. tag as "Junk").

    The problem with this approach is that each recipient receives an independent copy of the e-mail that, once delivered to the recipient's mailbox, has no connection to the other copies delivered to other members of the workgroup.

    In our proposed approach the server additionally provides metadata based on clients' actions once they have read the same e-mail. The metadata is made available to other clients who can consider this additional metadata provided by the workgroup to perform a variety of actions on the e-mail messages. The additional information provided to the recipient is varied, and based upon the actions of other people who have received the same e-mail message.

As an example, metadata could include:

- number of people who have read / deleted the e-mail message,

- number of people who have tagged the mail as useful / important,

- voting on ideas expressed in the e-mail,

- spam mail that spam software didn't flag as spam

    The core idea is that the mail server collects metadata based on clients' feedback on the e-mail they received. While it would be possible to design a protocol for exchanging such client-based metadata between mail servers, it would require broad adoption unlikely to be achieved given the install-base of current mail servers. Therefore, it is envisaged that the approach is implemented on a single mail server shared by a number of e-mail clients forming the workgroup.

    Gaining feedback from the clients' actions is most easily achieved in those cases where the client directly manipulates e-mails on the server, for example web-based e-mail or IMAP clients. In these cases, mail being read, moved into junk folders,...