I Hate Programmatic Email

Hi. I don’t want email from your apps.


I don’t want to know that your cron job ran successfully last night. I don’t want to know that there were 38 commits to your CVS repository. I don’t want to know that you are planning routine updates to your J2EE environment every Tuesday for the next year.

Not via email, at least.

Over and over and over and over I get mindless email from applications. I get an email per error. I get a notice per scheduled change. I get commit email, and log checking email, and email that says everything is fine.

And you know what? I stopped listening.

I built a mail filter for all the crap you send me, because you think I care. I don’t. And now, when something does happen, I won’t notice because you’ve desensitized me.

I’m not the only one around that hates your programmatic blather. But we can’t say anything, because all you do is bitch when we do. I tried asking you to remove me from your mail client’s aliases, but you talked to my boss and complained that I’m not a team player. So I built a mail filter, and now I see nothing you send me. I tried asking you to make your cron jobs quiet, but you like seeing the output regardless of whether my sysadmin team (root at your host) gets all the email, too. So I built a mail filter. You added me to your team’s mailing lists because you think I should see all your team’s moronic discussions about your retarded applications, because you know me and from time to time I play sysadmin on your machines. As it turns out I also play sysadmin for the list servers, and just unsubscribed myself. Gee, I don’t know how that happened.

I am willing to help you design a system. I am willing to talk with you about operational issues. You. You as a human. You are not your scripts. You are not your apps. Your apps do not converse with me. They piss me off. If you want me to notice important schedule stuff put it in our calendaring system. If you are doing routine work don’t send me an email about it unless you need something from me. It’s routine work — ROUTINE. You did it last week, you’ll do it next week. I don’t want to hear about it. Don’t add me to your mailing lists hoping I’ll help you out. By the time you have a thread of conversation that I could contribute to I’ll be ignoring you, full bore.

I want to see human things in my email. “Hey, job X failed. Can you look at it?” I want to see finite things in my email. “Service X is down.” “I need 700 GB of storage.” But you can’t even figure that out. You try, but you put error email notification in a loop, so I get 40,000 emails when you change the database login and forget to change your script, filling my mail spool, causing all my other mail to bounce. Thanks a ton, asshat. Why the hell are you copying me anyhow? I didn’t do anything to help build your app except give you a filesystem on a machine (and patch the machine from time to time).

So you know what? Don’t send me any mail from your apps. No… don’t! And don’t send anything to root at your host, either, because that’s me, too. If you want to see this stuff, fine. I don’t. If you didn’t type it I don’t want to see it. If you need me IM me. Call me. Send me email saying “hey, can you come talk to me about my app?” or invite me to your next team meeting to talk. Ask me how my monitoring systems can check to see if your app is working so you don’t have to invent a way to do it. Schedule me in a meeting every month to chat. Just don’t make me build another mail filter. It isn’t good for our relationship.

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