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The Solution

The problem is a modern tragedy of the commons. To fix a 'commons' problem, a community needs to come together and agree new rules. Email overload is something we are inadvertently doing to each other. You can't solve this problem acting alone. You will end up simply ignoring, delaying, or rushing responses to many incoming messages, and risk annoying people or missing something great. That prospect is stressful.

But if we can mutually change the ground rules, maybe we can make that stress go away. That's why it's time for an Email Charter. Its core purpose is to reverse the underlying cause of the problem -- the fact that email takes more time to respond to than it took to generate. Each of its rules contributes to that goal. If they are adopted, the problem will gradually ease.

But nothing will happen unless the Charter is widely shared and adopted. The mechanism to achieve that will be email itself. If people who like the Charter add it to their email signatures, word will spread. Please help that happen!