Caveat Sender!

Why should we be burdened when others send us e-mail and messages or requests from social networks? There is another way, and it shifts some of the burden back where it belongs: the sender figures out what matters, and puts money behind that choice.

NEW YORK – How many e-mails do you have in your inbox? In general, each one represents a task – something to read, a query to answer, a meeting to schedule, a bill to pay, a request to fulfill or deny, even a friend’s post to like. Also on your to-do list: Facebook messages, LinkedIn requests, and Twitter direct messages. Whether it’s a social-network message or old-school e-mail, all are items to handle – and all placed there by other people.

Is it fair that you have to prioritize these things, collect them in one place, or switch among them? Why should you be burdened? Isn’t there some way that the senders could assume some of that responsibility?

Of course, this is already happening, in part. Facebook decides what to show you. You decide whom to follow on Twitter (and thus who can direct-message you). LinkedIn charges people to send more than a certain number of introductory e-mails, and penalizes people who send too many unwelcome messages. And Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft (among others) filter spam using everything from content analysis to sender behavior to various methods of authentication.

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