A new record for the shortest amount of time between an email message and its resend

As I've noted before, people didn't answer your first question for a reason, but one thing I forgot to point out is that you also need to give people a chance to answer the first time at all!

Occasionally, I'll see somebody ask a question, and then resend the question a short time later. You also have to take into account the time of day. There was one message I recall that was sent around 4:30pm on Tuesday, and at 10am on Wednesday, it was "Resent due to no response." Now, sure, you waited nearly 18 hours before resending, but most of that time, people were at home not checking their email, and for a big chunk of that time they were even sleeping!

I thought 90 minutes would hold up as the record, but that was mere wishful thinking. Several months ago, a new record was set. Somebody sent a question to a peer support mailing list, and then resent it a mere 27 minutes later.

That record didn't hold up for very long, however, for the same person then sent the question a third time just 17 minutes later.

Now, it'd be one thing if the mailing list promised responses within, say, 10 or 20 minutes of receipt, but this was to a peer-to-peer discussion group, and a peer-to-peer discussion group does not come with a service level agreement.

Bonus chatter: In the time between writing this article and its arrival at the head of the queue, the record has been broken. Somebody sent a question, and then sent a repeat of the message with the additional plea "Please help!" eight minutes later.

Comments (15)
  1. nathan_works says:

    C’mon, Ray, it’s the internet. We all know there are legions, legions I say, of no-life techies just sitting out there, desperate to answer your questions at all hours of the day.

    I mean, MSFT has their own news groups, therefore they must be safety patrolled regularly.

  2. Will says:

    Raymond, is it ok if I ask you a question on your blog?

  3. Will says:

    Raymond, just checking again, is it ok if I ask you a question on your blog?

  4. Will says:

    Whew, thank goodness this isn’t email or Raymond would be outing me for setting a new record!

  5. BA says:

    Will: Not to mention being horribly contrived. :|

  6. mprobins says:

    I’ve seen people wait less than five minutes before…  Not only do they not even give you enough time to read their email, sometimes they’ll call your office demanding help before you’ve had a chance to interpret half of the fragmented email they just wrote…

  7. JS Bangs says:

    There may be a benign explanation for some of these–the person may be having mail troubles, and may not have seen their original message echoed on the list before they send their second one. And when they send the second try, they might decide to edit the message slightly. I know that I’ve sent inadvertent duplicates this way.

    Of course, if the second one is a response to the first, or specifically asks why no one responded, then you know that they’re just impatient.

  8. Mike says:

    It’s worse if they work nearby, I’ve had people show up at my desk before I’ve finished reading their e-mail asking if I can help

  9. ::Wendy:: says:


    I thought email was a natural in-extension of Instant Messaging

    I don’t know the support system Raymond is refering to,  but my experience of company IT support is that they often use Instant messaging…

    I’m guessing that as a person in need of support using the system above I have to work-out how the support service is staffed,  I even have to guess what time zone it is based in (to work-out the 9-5 likelihood of being staffed),  I need to check whether there is a service agreement and what it is.  

    Gosh.  That’s tough on the person with a problem that needs solving…  

    [The question was not asked to an IT department (which presumably has a service level agreement somewhere you can refer to) but to a peer-to-peer discussion group, which does not have a service level agreement. -Raymond]
  10. JamesNT says:


    There is no easy answer to this problem.  My clients call me at 9:30 at night and leave smart-assed voice messages if I don’t answer.  The next day, I call them back and ignore them for the first 10 minutes of the phone call as they complain about my not answering their call the previous night before they even get to the problem they were having.

    In the world of tech-support, end users will continue to think of us support folk not as human beings but as robots who are supposed to know the answer in 5 minutes or less.  Whereas we, the support folk, will continue to think of users as mindless idiots who violate Darwin’s theory every day and get away with it.

    I don’t see this situation getting any better.


  11. silky says:

    Your first link is dead and also, I think you’ve actually written your second paragraph here before somewhere. I’ve definitely read it before.

    [Oops, link fixed. Thanks. -Raymond]
  12. Fortiscue says:

    "Resend due to no response".

    18 hours is understandable – remember MS is a global company, and not everyone works in US working hours.

    What is truly annoying is the lack of understanding about the SLA thing, or the increasingly shrill tone you find on some DLs.

    "ANYONE?" bold, italic, resent 2x… I mean, come on.

  13. how to resend says:

    Does outlook has this resend-feature?

  14. Wilhelm Svenselius says:

    I make it a point not to respond (or not respond as kindly) to people who repeat their questions. Even on IRC, which is a lot closer to real-time than e-mail.

  15. Owen Pellegrin says:

    "18 hours is understandable – remember MS is a global company, and not everyone works in US working hours."

    …which is exactly why when I correspond with people more than a few time zones away, I provide 24-36 hours for a response.  I *could* look up exactly how many hours they are from me and calculate when 10AM is for them, but that’s an awful lot of trouble considering that e-mail is a "respond when you can" medium.  Some mornings I am so swamped with "urgent" and "response needed" emails that it’s past lunch before I can wade through all of them.  Sending a second one doesn’t help things.

    If it’s important that you get a response immediately, use a phone.  If you can wait a few days, use e-mail and then wait a few days.

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