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The future of e-mail

I'm excited about the new "priority inbox" function that's coming to Gmail. The idea, as Farhad Manjoo explains it, is that we've pretty much conquered spam, but now we need to separate mail we actually want to read from the "annoying messages that aren't technically spam." That's press releases, Facebook alerts, campaign e-mails, and all the rest of the clutter that seems to own your inbox but isn't the sort of stuff you can just throw out.

But what, exactly, should we call all that mail? "Annoying messages that aren't technically spam" is a good description, but surely we can come up with a term. Help me out here.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 31, 2010; 2:12 PM ET
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I'm tempted to say junk mail works, but since I love the creativity of "spam" I really want to think of something better...

Posted by: MosBen | August 31, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: daveredhat | August 31, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Brussel Sprouts?

BTW, as a geek, I separated my email by user account. I have separate accounts on gmail, yahoo & hotmail so that's how I prioritize my mail.

Posted by: msollot | August 31, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Also, I was really excited for Google Wave several months ago, but it really didn't make anything easier than email. Still, I need more Firefly references in my technology.

Posted by: MosBen | August 31, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse


"miscellaneous stuff"

Posted by: jkaren | August 31, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I recommend a portmanteau of cr*p and spam: cram.

Of course, I also recommend not using this Gmail feature in the first place. Remember what happened with Skynet.

Posted by: KevinDrum | August 31, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Background Mail

Posted by: dave89 | August 31, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Actually, there's already a name for this (and it's fairly clever): bacn. It's "email you want, but not right now".

Posted by: mattpenniman | August 31, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Potted Meat?

Pickled Eggs?

Posted by: ibc0 | August 31, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

That's a very clever name, mattpenniman, but confusing. I love bacon and want it all the time, even if I don't actually have it very often. I don't really want that newest email from Mr. Plouffe right now. Unlike bacon. mmmmmmmmmm, bacon....

Posted by: MosBen | August 31, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: lostinthemiddle | August 31, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Entering college freshman don't use email!


Posted by: will12 | August 31, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I have made use of email filters and use the suffix "litter". So I have a "Facebook Litter" folder and a "Twitter Litter" folder, and a "PR litter" folder and so on. Not saying the best choice, but works for me.

Posted by: GarLipow | August 31, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

D-mail. Just like the grade D, it's mail that just passes (the spam filter) but is certainly not top of pile.

Posted by: mikedorr77 | August 31, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Flail Mail

Posted by: tomcammarata | August 31, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Slurm (a la Futurama) - e-mail you can't stop receiving and is most likely created via the secretions of a giant worm creature.

Posted by: jpeg | August 31, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | August 31, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

What I want is a word for those text messages sent to your phone by real people who, in the blitz of sending thousands of them every day to their actual friends, mistakenly send some to random strangers. I get many more of those than real text messages actually meant for me. The text version of the wrong number call I guess.

Posted by: Beige | August 31, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: goadri | August 31, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Google's blog post announcing priority inbox suggests the term is "bacn"

Posted by: sullivanmatthewr | August 31, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I've heard it called "bacn" (

Posted by: Michael66 | August 31, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Such mail is generally intended to divert you and draw you into stuff -- I'd call it "chum"

Posted by: bdballard | August 31, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Uh... you realize that's just a slight upgrade to the present day of email, right?

As GarLipow mentioned above, it's about setting labels and then making filters in Gmail.

Create a label (in Gmail: Settings > Labels) that you intend to you for a class of email (say, Facebook).

You then set filters to be separated from your inbox (Settings > Filters > Create a new filter.

Now get creative. For facebook, use ""

Click next.

Check "Skip the inbox" and "apply the label facebook"

Then hit create filter (you can even apply it to current emails).

The result will be an inbox that is sorted, and a list of "Labels" on the bottom left of the screen that indicates how many unread messages there are.

Nifty, eh?

Posted by: cbaratta | August 31, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

AMTATS? Annoying Messages That Aren't Technically Spam.

aka stuff that stays in my email-box until I have time to churn through it.

Posted by: chrisanthemama | September 1, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

The semi-official term is "bacn":

Posted by: rubin421 | September 1, 2010 3:32 AM | Report abuse

I like to call it "my hotmail account", i.e. the one I use for bills, orders, registrations -- all the stuff I don't care about. I check it once per week, just in case, and my gmail is admirably clean.

Who on earth is not practicing this kind of email-account-prioritization?

Posted by: ottakringer | September 1, 2010 6:02 AM | Report abuse

how about "wait mail?" It's mail I can happily wait to read.

Posted by: marlenerose1 | September 1, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse


Just kidding, of course.

Posted by: Patrick_M | September 1, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I call it "dreck" and my "dreck folder" is bulging every day.

Posted by: koios399 | September 3, 2010 6:53 AM | Report abuse

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