No attachments

While writing a message to Tim yesterday, I pulled one of the all-time classic email mistakes.

While writing the message I wrote "I've attached a new version of the file..." but then I forgot to attach the file before sending.

What I want is a mail client that notices that I've included language in the message indicating that I wanted to attach a file but that there is nothing attached, in the same way that Thunderbird will warn me if I haven't provided a subject or recipient for a message.

It strikes me that this could be accomplished by a straightforward use of Naive Bayes text classification (I knew I could work this around to information retrieval!), the same technology that's alread in most mail clients for use in spam filtering. I'd offer bonus points if the client watches me work and offers the most recent files that I've been working on as candidates for attachment.

Comments:

KMail. Doesn't use any fancy Bayesian analysis...just a list of phrases that indicate attachments. Stopped my mistakes a couple times, though.

Posted by Stephen on May 06, 2005 at 03:26 AM EDT #

Agh. I don't suppose you could remove my email address from that comment? I'd rather it not be displayed; most comment systems don't display email addresses.

Posted by Rory Parle on May 06, 2005 at 04:49 AM EDT #

For the benefit of other readers, my first comment--now deleted to protect my email address--suggested that a good extension of this idea would be to have the email client follow relationships. It could see that you've sent copies of a file to the same person a number of times and then suggest that file to be attached again this time. This sort of relationship-centered rather than message-centered model seems to be a natural way for people to work, but current clients don't go very far in that direction.

Posted by Rory Parle on May 06, 2005 at 06:34 AM EDT #

Mulberry does this, see http://www.mulberrymail.com/ One mail client for Windows, Mac, Solaris, and Linux, and it does IMAP right.

Posted by Walter Underwood on May 09, 2005 at 05:25 PM EDT #

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About

This is Stephen Green's blog. It's about the theory and practice of text search engines, with occasional forays into recommendation and other technologies that can use a good text search engine. Steve is the PI of the Information Retrieval and Machine Learning project in Oracle Labs.

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