One of the big things about Gmail is supposed to be how it deals with messages and threads. Everything is a “conversation“. There’s no flat view of all your mails. Except I don’t have any say in what’s a conversation and what’s not – it’s all worked out by Gmail. The machine is overlaying what it thinks is going on to what people are actually doing, and whilst it’s got a nice 80-90% success rate, it doesn’t succeed all the time.
If I send someone an email, and they reply by starting a new mail themselves, instead of hitting “reply”, then we lose the conversation. If they use a different email address to reply, but keep the same subject line and have my message body inline, we lose the conversation. If someone sends me a new mail by replying to the last one I sent them (so they don’t have to look for me in their address book or whatever), then that mail becomes part of my last conversation with them, although it’s entirely unrelated.
Gmail needs to have some advanced conversation management. “Join conversations”, “Add mail to conversation”, “Remove mail from conversation/Start new conversation with this mail”.
They know that this is a problem, so we can hope that features like this will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, on those occassions where it does occur, it’s bloody annoying. Annoying enough to blog about, anyway