14 September 2006

Bad News in Your Inbox

I have been asked so many times "Is it possible to tell if someone has read my email?" And the answer, of course, is no: email gets sent; whether it is received or read is entirely unknown.

Unless you use DidTheyReadIt. I presume this works by adding an invisible HTML element to the email message that calls back to the company so they can track when messages are read. Although this might satisfy people who insist on knowing whether their masterpieces have been read, it's really Bad News because of the tracking it carries out. And just think of the field-day spammers will have: now, they won't have to guess whether an address works or not.

I hope that email clients will add the facility to block this kind of stupidity. It's not what email is about: if the person who receives your email can't be bothered to reply, either your message wasn't important enough - or maybe they aren't. (Via Lessig .)


Unknown said...

If the recipients mail server uses the open source software mailscanner to filter email, this technique will thankfully more than likely fail as it has the ability to detect and filter out tracking images.

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, that thought occurred to me, too, but it assumes it's an image they're using. Could it be anything else?