Gmail Goggles: No more drunk e-mails to your flame

Google's new Mail Goggles feature gives you a safety net for e-mails whipped up late on Saturday night. But there's business potential too: This can stop the kind of flames you may be tempted to send co-workers even when you've had absolutely no shots of Patron.

Gmail, Google's free consumer e-mail, added a unique new feature to the service Monday: Mail Goggles, which gives you the ability to double check whether you are really sure you want to send an e-mail message, particularly late at night. But the feature might also help business users of enterprise Gmail make better decisions about sending out vindictive or hastily-composed emails to co-workers.

The talk on the blogs and news sites that cover Google centered around the notion that Mail Goggles would prevent you from sending e-mails while drunk to ex-girlfriends on the weekends. In fact, the Google developer who made Mail Goggles used that as an example in his blog post announcing the new feature.

But his post, the name of the feature itself and the ensuing witty blog discourse might undersell another e-mail faux pas that Mail Goggles could prevent: Web rage, which often occurs late night and often not under the influence of eight shots of Patron.

Here's how Mail Goggles works: it allows you to preset what times you want Gmail to double check if you're sure you want to send an e-mail. (You can add Mail Goggles by going to "Settings" in the right hand corner of Gmail and then clicking on the "Labs" tab, where it is listed as a new feature). If you enable the feature, it will default to double-checking with you that you want to send e-mails in the wee hours of Friday and Saturday by making you solve some simple math problems.

When sending an e-mail late at night, Mail Goggles asks a Gmail user if he or she is really sure about sending a message. The user also must complete some simple math problems in order to send it.

But in the Gmail settings, you can check off other days of the week. If you're a business user of Gmail who works late, you might want to consider employing Mail Googles as well.

While many Gmail users will use Goggles to prevent the dreaded drunk e-mail late on a Friday or Saturday night, some business users might utilize it to prevent a toxic email to co-workers or their boss at the end of a long day. Above, you can see the other days of the week can be checked off as well.

In any profession where you're tethered to e-mail, the end of a long and strenuous day can give you a shorter fuse than normal, which might lead you to send e-mails to co-workers or even bosses venting frustrations with their work, or worse, with them personally. If you exercise discipline, you might "save as a draft" and re-read in the morning before sending. But occasionally the passion just overcomes you, and you send it anyway to really stick to someone. Often, this leaves you with that feeling of self-loathing in the morning you'd get after a hard night boozing and texting an ex.

We chronicled the problems of Web rage by profiling the e-mail exchanges from passive aggressive engineers slamming each other in e-mail. Because they were working hard on a project, many of them likely sent these e-mails later in the day, and we can probably assume they all weren't all boozing on the job.

Because Gmail has an enterprise-worthy sister (part of the Google Apps software suite) that some organizations such as the Washington D.C. government have adopted, this new feature could clearly help quell business-based Web rage.

For instance, a business user might who notoriously works late in the middle of the week to cover up for the incompetence of a few co-workers might want to set Mail Goggles to double check that he wants to send an internal e-mail at 10 p.m. on a Wednesday.

Stopping drunk e-mails to ex-girlfriends is nice, but Mail Goggles is capable of preserving a more cordial workplace too.

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