Heading to the White House today, and an email question

Two totally unrelated things. First, I’m heading to the White House in a few hours for the Greek Independence Day reception that President Obama is hosting. It should be interesting, as I’m not going as a blogger, but rather as a Greek-American (but how can you know the dancer from the dance?).

The Greek community in DC exists, but it’s different than it is back home in Chicago. We have a huge community in Chicago, and everybody knows somebody who knows your family. In DC, I’m told there was a large community at one point – we even had our own Greek Town – but now it strikes me as a bit more disparate. Then again, DC isn’t as “ethnic” as Chicago. Back home, it’s common to ask someone “what are you?” Meaning, what’s your ethnic background (or your “nationality” as we say in Chicago). Here, if you asked someone “what are you?” (which I mistakenly have before), you tend to get an odd look. Anyway, we do have a vibrant Greek-American political community here in DC, and like some other ethnic groups, our power as a community tends to be far beyond our numbers. The reception is at 5, so I’ll let you know how it went later tonight, with photos. I’ll also try to Twitter from the event – here is our Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/americablog

Now, my email question. How in God’s name do you guys handle the increasing onslaught of email? I’m asking this publicly because I think the problem I’m facing is one that a lot of people face, and maybe by talking about it publicly, and soliciting your advice, we can find some solutions that benefit all of us.

First, let me say, every one of you who actually sends me a real email – one that you wrote yourself, that you’re sending just to me – I want those. Keep em coming. Never worry about whether you’re bugging me. If you are writing to me, and not to a whole slew of people at once and just happening to add me to the list, I want that email.

Now, let’s talk about what I don’t want…

I am getting so inundated with emails – not just spam, but actual emails – that I’m regularly losing things now, not even seeing emails people send me. Part of the problem is people not thinking, and just sending crap. I don’t mean you readers in general. I want, I like, and I need actual real emails from our readers. It’s when people blast email something, put you on an email list without asking, that the crap begins.

Generally speaking, I think I’ve come up with a working rule to separate great email content from crap. If you’re emailing it to one person, what you’re sending is probably good. If you’re emailing it to 5 or more people, it’s probably crap. I can’t think of ever having received an email from a reader, an email that was sent only to me, that wasn’t useful. Now, we don’t always print every story or tip a reader sends, but they are always useful, so keep sending them. But the email lists people put us on, dear God.

An example. Let’s start with Hill offices. Why in God’s name do I care that the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee commended Janet Napolitano about the southwest border initiative. Seriously, who in their right minds think that this is news? And why in God’s name would you send something like that to one of the liberal political blogs? Oh, you can just unsubscribe, you might say. No you can’t. Tried that. The Homeland Security Committee computer told me that I must have used a different email to subscribe to their list. Yeah, funny that. I never did subscribe to their list. They just added me to their press list without asking, and now are sending me crap on a regular basis. I finally had to ban them in my spam filter yesterday – no more Homeland Security Committee for me. But is that really what they want? To have top bloggers, and media, banning them so that they never communicate with us again?

Let me say one more time. Keep those emails coming if you are a real human being writing to just me. Our regular pen pals know how valuable we find their emails – because a lot of our stories are things they sent us. But something has to be done about people sending crap on a regular basis to large numbers of people, people adding you to their email list without asking you first. I now regularly miss emails that people send me. I just don’t see them because they get overrun with all the other garbage. Email is no longer a sure way to reach me. And that’s crazy.

So what do you guys do? I’d like to hear from people who get a lot of email. How do you manage the onslaught? Will gmail help? And even in gmail, how do you manage so much email so as not to lose things that really matter?

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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