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Vacation Autoreply

Filed under: Work — Thomas @ 11:55 am

11:55 am

Last year one of our sysadmins set up the possibility for our people to have a vacation autoreply for their mail.

Is it just me, or are vacation autoreplies worse than the problem they solve ? I’ve never agreed with the need for them – to me, email is a more convenient letter in the post, but with the same obligation of speed of response, so it’s fine to be away for a week and not reply yet.

But it’s just really annoying for the people that aren’t on holiday to continuously receive double the email. And it’s doubly worse when those people on holiday still send out mails, causing you to reply. It’s like a honey trap!

Maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy beause of the holiday heat.


  1. Well, you are not old, but for some companies email is the only way of communicating. Whole businesses are build around email. For my PM email is only thing they use, so those Vacation reply mails are somehow ways to say “do not expect me to reply to this anytime soon”.

    What is interesting for me is how various system handles those messages, I mean, how come mailing lists (even our internal ones) are not flooded with VacationReply mails?

    Comment by Robert Smol — 2009-8-17 @ 12:20 pm

  2. Actually the autoreplay is sent just once per recipient and not more than one every four days. at least here in my company.
    I find this reasonable.

    Comment by scimmia — 2009-8-17 @ 12:20 pm

  3. I actually had an occation where they were really useful – I tried to contact someone where it was important. In the auto-reply, there was a text like: In urgent cases, contact xyz, phone 12345

    That was a huge help.

    But I agree, in many cases they are useless

    Comment by Benjamin Schidnler — 2009-8-17 @ 12:32 pm

  4. In general, I almost certainly expect email to be replied to within the same day. If this is not going to happen, I want the choice to redirect my email. Nevertheless, these messages should probably be limited to one per sender per week, or something.

    Comment by Matthew W. S. Bell — 2009-8-17 @ 1:11 pm

  5. Yes. I hate poorly configured autoreply systems. The worst is when autoreplies go to a mailing list. The *idea* of letting people who are trying to communicate with you know that you’re not receiving is fine, but many of the implementations are garbage. There are probably some setups that are decent (along the lines described by scimmia, although even one autoreply to a mailing list is obnoxious) but you hardly ever notice those, since they’re not spamming you. :)

    Comment by Jean-Paul Calderone — 2009-8-17 @ 1:17 pm

  6. While I must confess I almost never receive vacation replies, I like to know that my mail was not lost and that I can wait. At least, my mind can go on other task instead of waiting for a answer.

    Comment by Michael — 2009-8-17 @ 1:22 pm

  7. A of people, e.g. potential customers, expect that you reply to your email within a day, otherwise they’ll think they’re being ignored. So I think an autoresponder is necessary.

    Comment by Hongli Lai — 2009-8-17 @ 2:35 pm

  8. Thomas: it’s not you. I think autoresponders sucks :D

    I hate when you’re involved in a project with ten or more people CC’ed (I hate that too… too many manager out there), and after a reply-all you get a flood of notices of people being out of the office :D

    Comment by Juanjo — 2009-8-17 @ 5:05 pm

  9. If you see their last status being “going on vacation! :D”, you’ll be –oh wait, sorry, email.

    The only reason people I know use /that/ anymore is ’cause FB won’t let you send files.

    Comment by ethana — 2009-8-17 @ 6:16 pm

  10. In business, I think they’re particularly useful, as long as they’re configured correctly (i.e only reply once). If I’m out of the office for a few weeks, I want customers to know that I won’t be replying to them, and that they need to talk to someone else if it’s urgent. Otherwise, they get impatient if they don’t get a reply within a few days, and angry impatient customers are the last thing I want to have to deal with after taking a holiday…

    Comment by Simon — 2009-8-18 @ 12:01 am

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