Friday, March 02, 2007

Spam Filters

Management guru Peter Drucker once said that “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.” I suppose that being a guru entitles you to be, um, ‘deep,’ but if Mr. Drucker were to see the University of Nebraska-Lincoln today, he would have no trouble making his comment fit.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I find the University Spam Filters problematic. I send emails to a lot of professors asking questions about their classes, papers they’ve written, offering bribes, and generally being as… annoying? As vocal as possible.

And yet, every single letter has to be followed up with a phone call or even a visit in person, because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these professors have not received my messages. No matter how short the message, how easily responded to, I must waste my time and theirs hoofing it around campus, risking my life dodging bicycles and that old guy on a skateboard for a simple “No, you can’t have my autograph.” The culprit is none other than the well-meaning spam filters which help our fine teachers and administrators by routing all unknown email, including that of students, right into the trash bin.

Lest you think that I am crazy, I am pro-spam filtering. I just wonder if it would be possible for those fine administrators of ours to allow email addresses other than internal memos and Bigred accounts through the machinery. A system for registering another email address to your student name would do the trick. I like having the Google staring over my shoulder at my letters too much to use Bigred for anything.

The most annoying part of the system is that I don’t even know if professors I’ve spoken to before have suddenly begun to hate me, or haven’t gotten my emails. It’s usually a pretty good question. I shudder to think of emails from outside the university which are left in spam bins to rot because nobody knows about our system. Would an email response letting you know when a letter has been consigned to purgatory be so hard?

I recognize the time saved by spam filters and appreciate that the University is keeping tuition down by saving professors time on their email, but I’d like my professors to hear what is being said. Then they can worry about the rest.

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