johncoxon: ([LICD] iRon Man)
[personal profile] johncoxon

I read an article that Boing Boing linked to about read receipts, privacy and all that jazz, and found myself disagreeing with it – I have never felt pressured to respond to a text even if there are read receipts flying around, and so I didn’t really see the point. However, it does occur to me that I only use text messaging with a fairly small group of close friends, and so it’s possible that my views on this are biased. I’ve put this poll up to get an idea of people’s feelings on the subject; I also posted about it on Twitter (you can read the tweets at Storify).

I should say that I’m talking specifically about read receipts of the sort that are being introduced by Facebook and iMessage, where you just receive a quiet ‘Read xx:xx’ (Apple) or ‘Seen at xx:xx’ (Facebook). I’m not talking about email read receipts, which I don’t think I’ve ever actually encountered in the wild. In the poll, where I say ‘opt-in’, I mean, ‘in order for people to see that you have read their messages you must have opted into read receipts’.

I’m sure I’ve missed something but I have somewhere to be now, so I’ll leave it to you lot to leave angry comments on this post before thinking about it further.

[Poll #1858247]

Date: 2012-08-04 12:10 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
What's aa delivery receipt in an IM context?

Date: 2012-08-04 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I send someone an iMessage and the app shows a blue bubble that has the text I wrote in it. When my iPhone receives confirmation that my message has arrived at the recipient's device, the word 'Delivered' appears in small writing underneath the bubble (the word only displays underneath the most recently delivered message). If the recipient has read receipts turned on, the word 'Delivered' changes to 'Read 00:09' when they open the app to read the message.

Date: 2012-08-05 08:30 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Aaaah. I've never seen anything that had the intermediate step, fascinating.

Date: 2012-08-05 08:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it's the perfect mixture; you know your message has been delivered, which is great; but it doesn't invade the privacy of the recipient unnecessarily.

Date: 2012-08-05 08:41 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker

I actually found the FB thing handy the other day. I was IMing someone, didn't expect a response, but found it useful to know that they'd seen my message.

A salient story

Date: 2012-08-04 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Last month, the teaching pool that the [ profile] garklet goes to phoned me up to ask me if I'd received their e-newsletter. Checked mail, and yes I had. "Oh", they said "we had a report that it hadn't reached you, so your email must be broken". No, it reached me fine, and I'd read it. You have the right email address, and it's working just fine, thank you.

At which point I checked the source of the mail. Full of links to remote images, of which two were web bugs from a well-known mail analytics firm.

Ah, I said, you've been trying to track my mail. I configure my mail reader so that it doesn't automatically load remote images, so that people can't track whether or not I've read their mail. $MAILANALYTICSFIRM is falsely claiming that I haven't read your mail.

"Okay", they said, "can you give us an email address that works properly?"


Re: A salient story

Date: 2012-08-04 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What do you expect if you prevent email tracking from working properly?

The people who send the teaching pool newsletter have obtained some off-the-shelf solution in order for them to be able to reach the parents of the kids they work with. This off-the-shelf solution can tell them who has opened the email for the majority of people. They're unlikely to want to spend time acquainting themselves with the minority of people for whom it doesn't work, and so you're going to run into problems.

Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't disable remote images – that's entirely up to you. It does rather occur to me, however, that disabling remote images and then complaining about the entirely predictable and explicable problems that occur as a result of your decision is silly. Surely, the best solution is to work out whether you're more annoyed by remote image loading or situations like the one above, and pick the one that annoys you least.
Edited Date: 2012-08-04 11:16 pm (UTC)

Re: A salient story

Date: 2012-08-05 10:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'd have no problem with email tracking if it were part of the usual collection of standards for mail delivery. However, SMTP wasn't designed with tracking in mind (quite sensibly, given its decentralised nature), so any mail tracking solutions are nasty third party add-ons.

I understand why the pool wants to track email reading, although I disagree that they need it - standard delivery failure messages would suffice for their purposes. If anything, I'm irritated with the mail tracking company for falsely giving them the impression that my not loading remote images is synonymous with my mail being broken.

As you rightly point out, that's a choice I've made, but that doesn't mean that I don't have a right to be irked by the outcome.

Re: A salient story

Date: 2012-08-06 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think the problem here is that I don't automatically put the word 'nasty' in front of 'third party add-ons' in my head, and I don't see a small company using a service that allows them to see who's opened an email as 'nasty'.

Re: A salient story

Date: 2012-08-07 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was using 'nasty' to qualify the technical quality of the approach, not to describe the intent of either the provider or the customer.

Re: A salient story

Date: 2012-08-07 05:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That is, (nasty (third party (add-ons))), not ((nasty (third party)) (add-ons))

Date: 2012-08-05 04:28 pm (UTC)
ext_267: Photo of DougS, who has a round face with thinning hair and a short beard (Picocon)
From: [identity profile]
What the tracking firm is doing is very clearly NOT email tracking. It's tracking whether the recipient has downloaded the web bug. If they're claiming to their clients that this is email tracking, then they're either misleading their clients deliberately, or they're misleading themselves through incompetence. NMG hasn't prevented email tracking from working properly, he's refrained from loading images.

I'm sure that you're not seeking to claim that a user reading their email in a text-only email client (like many available for smartphones, for example) is preventing email tracking from working properly.

Date: 2012-08-06 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sorry, I disagree. Tracking whether emails have been opened is email tracking, regardless of whether it's being done well or not.

Date: 2012-08-05 04:34 pm (UTC)
ext_267: Photo of DougS, who has a round face with thinning hair and a short beard (Picocon)
From: [identity profile]
In the case of external email, delivery receipts and read receipts are a bad idea because there are so many email clients out there that the sender's system can't rely on the receipts being accurate -- and as long as their very existence leads senders to believe (pardonably) that they are accurate, they break communication in exactly the way they're intended to fix it.

In the case of systems where the sender and the receipient are running the same client on the same service (ideally, on the same server) they're just about acceptable.

But I do not trust them, and I always instruct my users not to trust them.

Date: 2012-08-06 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Like I say, I'm not talking about email with this poll and have no experience whatsoever of email receipts, having never encountered them as either sender or recipient.

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