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12 July 2012 / erikduval

Vacation messages…

It’s that time of the year again… As folks are leaving for their Summer Holidays (excuse my Northern Hemisphere bias), I’m sure that you are getting lots of ‘vacation messages’ in reply to your emails too…

Some of them are a bit trivial, or standard. Others are more interesting and show that the sender is already anticipating how to react to the large number of messages he will find upon his return.

For a number of years now, I’ve informed people who send me a message that I will archive my inbox when I return and start with a new, empty one. That has kind of worked well for me.

But there are alternatives: I like this one from Joris for instance:

I am on vacation until the beginning of august 2012. I will allow each sender one email. If you send me multiple emails, I will randomly delete your emails until it is pared down to one. Choose wisely. Please note that you already sent me one email.

Maybe you get some other interesting ones too? I’d love to hear from you if you do!

(BTW, I’m still around for a week or two, so you may just want to send me that Important Email before I leave 😉 …)



Leave a Comment
  1. Marnix / Jul 12 2012 12:18 pm

    I used : I am on holidays and will not have acces to my mailbox. For urgent matter, send an email to, which I will check regularly.

    …not much urgent emails on the holiday mailbox 😄

  2. Peter Raeves / Jul 12 2012 1:24 pm

    So that means you deleted our messages asking for our exam assignment? When are you back from your holidays so we can resend our question?

  3. erikduval / Jul 12 2012 1:38 pm

    @Peter: not at all – thought I made that clear in the last 2 lines of my post? You will get a reply in the coming days 😉

  4. André / Jul 12 2012 2:44 pm

    i suppose you do the same thing with regular mail (bills etc). ?

    • erikduval / Jul 12 2012 7:47 pm

      Not really: I don’t get many ‘regular’ mails, I guess. Typically, I can work through those in 20 mins or so after my return from holidays…

  5. anoush Margaryan / Jul 12 2012 5:51 pm

    What do you do about potential email from funding bodies on grant applications; email from journals with decisions on papers, and other similar correspondence you may not want to miss?

    • erikduval / Jul 12 2012 7:49 pm

      Those are often mails you expect, so I typically will go search for them once I return from holidays. (‘Hmm, let’s see if the Nobel prize committee has sent me anything while I was away…’ or ‘Did that submission to Science get accepted?’)

  6. Bony / Jul 12 2012 11:24 pm

    The e-mail server is unable to verify your server connection and is unable to deliver this message. Please restart your computer and trysending again. (The beauty of this is that when you return, you can see how many in-duh-viduals did this over and over).

  7. Wilfred Rubens / Jul 19 2012 2:11 pm

    Hi Eric,

    This is the most original out of the office reply I have seen. From a colleague. You must be able to guess who it is:

    Knock knock
    Who’s there?
    Stupid who?
    Stupid Out of Office Assistant


    You emailed me because you needed me or needed me to do something and you get something Microsoft has decided to call an Out of Office assistant. Man, what a dumb name. This stupid thing doesn’t assist me in anything.
    First, it sends you a message telling you something you could or should have assumed because I am not personally answering you.
    Second, it leads to more spam in my mailbox so it helps me like a hole in the head.
    Third, if it really helped me it would really do something useful like answer your question or do what you want me to do.

    So, what’s the really story?

    I’m on a holiday and have decided that – for the moment – you’ll have to deal with your life and your problems alone. As a good Learning Scientist, I have included a one-shot scaffold below, after which you’re on your own. When I get back my mailbox will be absurdly filled and there is no technique for dealing wit hit. Starting with the oldest leads to answers to questions thta have already been answered 126 email later. Starting with the newest leads to trying to understand long chains of mails relating to an original email that was sent 859 emails earlier. In other words, there’s only one strategy namely:
    I will throw all of the emails away when I return on August 13th, so if it’s really important and I’m the only one who can deal wit hit, mail me then. OK? Deal? So:

    Knock knock
    Who’s there?
    Not me!!!

    For specific emergencies: etc

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