Heavy email traffic in PWX

The June 2008 application review cycle generated a heavy flood of emails. How can we handle it and how we can change it in the future?


It is most gratifying to see how busy the past few days have been on PWX. It is great to see the connections, the interactions, the sharing, the enhanced explanations, and for me at least – the learning. However, i realize that this comes at a price.

The way PWX works is that an email is sent to all the reviewers and the applicant when any comment (or response) is posted on the application.
Of course, the poster on the q&a (qanda) does not get it, but it can mean that many emails can be generated on the application.

For people not used to being on forums, this can disrupt their email routine, can fill up their mailbox and cause confusion and stress.
on the application.

Here is some feedback from the members on the email flood:

  • In the last less than 2 days we have received 49 messages from you all about comments on proposals, need to review applications, etc. I guess I would add this to my list of things you all may need to think about. At one level it is great to get alerts that things are happening but 49 of these in less than 2 days is completely overwhelming and makes me feel like I have to move now this second on this when we have a lot on our plates. I think some balance would be great – we have been given a deadline for submissions and comments and so it would seem less overwhelming if we in fact relied on this instead of a constant stream of e-mails.

  • One way to reduce the volume of emails is to offer a daily “digest” option, collecting all the emails for the day into one, so we just get one daily reminder to look at the system.

  • One suggestion for the dashboard/home page – maybe you can put some stats by the applications for example. i.e. 2 questions open that are unanswered, or some such thing. Just a thought. Maybe the reviews too? Not sure though.

    Still hoping for the digest email…. As it is, I just tend to delete them all and save one to remind me to get in there later on….

Recognizing that, we trialed a feature where you can turn on and off emails. However, this led to a different sort of behavior, waiting till the deadline and then reading the application and then rating it.

This meant that the full benefits of PWX were not being realized:

  • – reviewer not interacting with the applicant

  • – not learning from all the other questions and discussions generated.

  • – applicant not knowing when comments/questions were posted so unable to respond in timely fashion.

Considering the applications are not ‘fully complete’ in all dimensions, this process did not allow any clarifications and expansions.

So where does this leave us: we would love to reduce the volume of emails as long as people still interact and do not wait for the deadlines before visiting PWX.

We are leaning towards something that sends a daily digest or a notification that there has been activity on the applications. When you login and see the dashboard, then you get our list of applications to review but they have some kind of notification that indicates the amount of activity, giving a clue on which to visit/revisit.

Your thoughts and feedback welcomed.

Thanks, rajesh

One Reply to “Heavy email traffic in PWX”

  1. I must say that I do enjoy reading the discussions of other applications because we get to know what and how others are working in their area and how hard some of them have to work to get water to the people. Some are real eye opening and a great place to learn from the real incidences that is not just a theory.

    This is how I address the PWX messages without much worry:
    1. Filter all emails into the PWX mailbox (Microsoft outlook allows it so does Eudora);
    2. Select time to get into the PWX mailbox and work on it on a full day (as today) or at an allotted time;
    3. Select one application for e.g. “well maintenance training’’, go to its Q&A, read all;
    4. Go back to the PWX mailbox select all the “well maintenance training’’ by pressing ctrl at the same time and delete because they are all read by now. Done.
    5. Repeat 3 and 4 until your turn comes to ask questions, give comments or answers. This takes a bit of time.
    6. The secret is to have all the answers in the application before the questions are asked (advice to the applicants). We are all learning and I am sure next year there will be less email in the route because reports would be updated before the application round, hopefully. And also this year the application is almost six months ahead of last year hence nobody has their reports ready yet.

    **It is advisable if you can assign one last date of discussion followed by another date for scoring perhaps, otherwise the scoring and answering back dates (30 July) may coincide. The scoring date should be 2-3 days after the final answering back date especially since the discussion is done at different time zones. What do you think?


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