Using Social Sorting to Enhance Email Management

Danyel Fisher, Bernie Hogan, A.J. Brush, Marc A. Smith, Andy Jacobs


We evaluate the use and potential benefits of social sorting as a technique for managing email. We present SNARF, the Social Network and Relationship Finder, a tool which filters and sorts email based on the type of message and the user’s past history with an email correspondent, a process we refer to as social sorting. This tool also combines several contemporary techniques for email selection and review, including thread management and multiple simultaneous views. We report on the results of a 4 week field study (N=574), and describe the user behavior that emerged around the tool. Additionally, we present a scale of email overflow to assess users’ experience with email generally. While our application did not significantly reduce experience of email overflow, we conclude leveraging past email behavior can be of value to email users for both time-critical triage and peripheral awareness.