If you want to "take features away", you need to create a completely separate concept in people's minds. Twitter works because people don't think of it as "email that's limited to 140 characters". They think of it as a completely separate category.
In some cases you'd like to have the option to pay something so that it's processed in one hour.
Also, some people don't care if you're annoyed. VCs, celebrities, etc. get tons of email that they can't read anyway. What if Lady Gaga received 30 short emails per day from fans who paid $100 (adjust the numbers until it's manageable for her) instead of 100k emails that go to /dev/null ?
Fanmail is a part of being a celebrity, and managing your fans is what keeps them happy and giving you money in innumerate ways.
Asking your most fanatic to pay you more money just to email you would be insulting and might trigger backlash.
I would feel bad about telling people to email me at shortmail.com, but a VC who receives tons of unsolicited pitches wouldn't. Some would love charging a fee to get pitched over email. If it takes 30 seconds and they pay you 20 bucks, why not.
1. No native Android application.
They try to sell themselves as a replacement for both SMS and email combined, which would be great, but if I'm limited to IMAP, there's no way it can replace email.
2. Yet another email address.
Sometimes someone does need to send me a long email, and I do need to read it. The process needs to be possible but mildly painful (to discourage them from doing it). Quarantining/bouncing the email (their current solutions) aren't quite right. But they're on the right track.
However, I'm holding out hopes for one reason: they're implementing this as an open protocol - ie, within the extant email headers, so the functionality isn't limited to Shortmail-hosted email.
So I check the "Why shortmail" page (which 99% of visitors will not do), and I'm still not sure what happens if incoming e-mails are longer than 500 chars.
Scoble is probably in the small intersection of people with massive volume of incoming messages who doesn't have a human screening it. It's in his job description.
This would be something for celebs to get brief, easily digestible feedback from their fans. Right now, this either means going through lots of messages, or relying on social media to filter the message for you, but the former takes time or money, and the latter results in only the loudest voices being heard. The proposal above would cause people to filter and edit themselves.
This is precisely why calling this "email" is wrong. It would be like the counterpart of twitter, going the opposite way. It would be the multiplexer to the Twitter demux. It would not be email, however users could possibly access it through email.
Maybe call it "Faninn" "Feedforward" or "Feedgram?" I would allow messages to be marked private or public, with the public messages appearing on a white-labeled website, subject to a reddit or HN style upvote system. (Private messages would be subject to the fee.)
Think of it as a way for any celebrity to have their own HN-style site and executive ombudsman, without the work or expense of setting it up themselves.
I personally think having the character limit that low is horrible but even if you love it, it wasn't some brilliant design decision imposed by Jack Dorsey it was just a limitation of the technology they were working with initially.
At functional level, forcing people to "think small, think short" actually works. Where people have short attention spans. As a mode for a 21st century communication.
Over time, people adapt and "think" thoughts in the language that they express. Be it poetry, or visually, etc. Or, if you speak a second language, you learn to think in the constraints of what works to communicate.
Something a little less extreme such as a whitelisting system might work better (only people on my whitelist may email me... if you email me and you're not on my whitelist you have to fill out a captcha or something in a response before I ever see the email, and then I have the option of either whitelisting you, doing nothing, or adding you to a permanent blacklist). That would allow me to whitelist the addresses I really care about while cutting out all other unwanted content. Main problems I see with something like that would be that email becomes even more asynchronous and unreliable than it already is.
Best solution is to just tear it down and replace it across the board with something better like XMPP. (A man can dream.)
The entire point of having a junk folder is you don't have to check it apart from the rare occasion you get a phone call saying "hey , I sent you an important email why haven't you replied?"
There are exceptions, things like the Humble Bundles, but I tend to buy those primarily as call to actions for charity donations themselves. Out of two bundles I've only ever played one game. I never got the sense of the value piggybacking (maybe determining how things get split is part of it).
I just get wary when charities are thrown into the mix with these things. It seems like something bolted on at the last minute to boost conversions.
The comparison I had in my mind is something along the lines of paying a fee to complete a bitcoin transaction. The fee is distributed to a "charity" of sorts (the bit coin miners) and goes toward making the world suck less (making sure the block chain is secure). Also it legitimizes the transaction so the sender knows these bit coins are the real deal. If that doesn't make sense feel free to ignore that last paragraph :P
That being said, I don't know if the charity aspect would still accomplish the desired goals. What if the recipient started skimming emails, with no real intention of following through, just because they want to see their favorite charity get a few more bucks? If the money went to the recipient instead I would probably think there would be a greater likelihood of it being read as anybody I'd be willing to pay to read my emails would stand lose only their sense of integrity but the charity aspect might make it easier to blow off.
I might be splitting too fine a hair here.
A codepaste might work for snippets as long as it's not sensitive. You still might need a way to explain how to reproduce a problem.
Maybe these are all just add-ons for such a service.
And obviously if you are in a position where strangers should send you random unsolicited code or long messages you should just not use this.
The majority of the spam I receive is under 500 chars anyway so it wouldn't really help in that regard.
Your last sentence makes me feel like you didn't understand the idea at all - it is not to fight spam, but to help you manage communication with real people that you don't know. The basic example is a VC flooded with long copy pasted pitches instead of a poignant and succinct pitch.
What I'm getting at is that your current idea has more applications other than a simple VC pitch -- but expanding it to celebrity's sounds more like a Mickey Mouse Fan club subscription than email.
Automated response email (good catch Rudism) could be handled via some sort of separate inbox or UI organization.
One counterintuitive thought: this may work even better within corporations. My external email isn't bad, but company internal email has always been a few hundred messages a day for me. A length limitation might put the onus back on the sender to be efficient.
Maybe the other way, though. Paying as the sender for longer messages. But I don't understand what advantage this would possibly have over the free email services.
Accept and master the limitations that come naturally to you or your technology, sure. But don't go looking for ways to limit yourself.
Email is nothing like twitter at all, twitter became popular because it allowed celebrities and the like to share their thoughts with their fans without feeling like they had to maintain a longform blog.
Email is used for 2 way communication, yes companies like to build email lists and use it for push marketing but that's usually seen more as a nuisance to email users.
If somebody is going to charge me in order to send them an email the message I read into that is "My time is so much more valuable that if yours that if you want me to read what you say then you better make it worth my while".
And sometimes emails need to be long, am I supposed to maintain 2 separate email accounts?
In reality, legit commercial mass mail usually does have to pay to send because if you want good deliverability you are probably using mailchimp or a similar service.
I think there is something to this idea. It's wrong to call it "email" though.
This would be something to get brief, easily digestible feedback from their fans. Right now, this either means going through lots of messages, or relying on social media to filter the message for you, but the former takes time or money, and the latter results in only the loudest voices being heard. The proposal above would cause people to filter and edit themselves.
You just contradicted yourself here. Email is versatile enough to be used in many ways. That's both the best and worst quality of it.
Yes, that is the message such a service would have to send. (But in a more subliminal way.)
Maybe call it "Faninn" "Feedforward" or "Feedgram?" I would allow messages to be marked private or public, with the public messages appearing on a white-labeled website, subject to a reddit or HN style upvote system.
The point is that they don't pay you. It's an externality:
Either I want to read your email or I don't, paying me $1 a time to read all my viagra spam isn't going to help anyone.
Plus what happens if I really want to send you an email but I don't want to hand my credit card info over to whatever payment provider you use is?
The point is not to remove a functionality but to further constrain a contract (and enforce it).
If you really don't want to receive long emails from strangers you can always add a filter in your mail setup that deletes any email over 500 chars long from people not in your address book with an autoreply that says "I don't read anything over 500 chars long".