Canned Responses: Your Silent Partner

I needed to take drastic measures. I just spent about 50 minutes in thumbing out emails that were destined to go nowhere constructive because both participants were more interested in tweaking the other person than the subject matter. It happens all the time, especially if you’re me and you enjoy tweaking people for some inexplicible reason.

As usual, Liz Lundberg had the answer. The most effective way to gain hours of my life back would be to create a mail filter that allows me to gracefully bow out of a conversation and not engage, while being polite enough to not be mean, but obviously computer-generated. I am essentially sending an unsubscribe to the argument, which is a dazzling display of passive agression.

This may earn me the Gold Medal in the Dick Olympics1.

Automagic Gmail Filtering Workflow

Incoming email message

Filter matches on

  • if email matches:
  ((to:me) Obama) 
  • mark the message as read,
  • clear all labels on the message,
  • archive it,
  • send a Canned Response titled ‘TALK TO THE HAND’ 2


Dear Sir or Madam:

You may be right.



Victory \o/

This will not match email sent to mailing lists, since the Obama administration comes up regularly on cypherpunks, nettime-l and a few other mailing lists that I like to see email from.

I am pretty confidant that I can add words to the list as needed, while avoiding uneccessary complexity. Should it require more advanced filtering, I am ready to make use of Google’s Circles and labels to pre-sift likely candidates for extended scrutiny. By my estimates this will only take about 45 days before the time spent is completely recovered.

  1. there will be a lot of competition, but with your support I believe I can outperform both Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. 

  2. hat-tip to H. L. Mencken (and Liz Lundberg – she’s always thinking of me.)