Tracking email replies

Tracking email replies

Post by Bart Parlima » Sat, 26 Jul 2003 08:19:36

I'd like to be able to mark certain outbound email as important
so that I'm expecting at least one recipient to reply to the
message within a certain period of time (say a week).  If no one
replies, I'd like to be able to easily see which ones are

A simplistic way I thought of doing this is to pipe the message
to a script that saves away the message id (and other headers) of
the email into a flat file.  Then when I receive inbound messages
I could send them through a filter that tried matching up the
message id's to the ones in the flat file, removing any matched
entries from the file.  Anything left over in the file that had
been there for a while could be displayed periodically as overdue
(by using yet another script).

This is clunky and I'd rather not reinvent the wheel, so I wanted
to know...

Anyone have a better way of doing this?

Will using the message id work (i.e. will it always be returned
somewhere in a reply)?  If not, is there a another header that
should be used instead? (I'd rather not munge the subject like a
spammer ...)


Bart Parliman


1. Keeping track of expected replies

Good morning,

mail is a vital communication medium for getting my work done. Besides keeping
track of the fact that I myself reply to all the mail, I often tend to "bounce
back" mail to other people and think no more of it, because afterall, it is
now THEIR duty to reply ;-)

However, this doesn't work as reliable as necessary - sometimes, a mail gets
dropped, accidentially deleted, forgotten etc - this has happened to everyone
I guess.

So I am thinking about having my MUA keep track of mails I expect a reply to
and let me check easily whether I already received a mail.

My initial idea - which I can patch together with some Perl filters easily
enough - is to parse X-Reply-Expected: <profile name> headers on outgoing mail,
have the filter save a copy to ~/mail/tracker/<profile name> and have an
incoming procmail filter to modify the flag attribute on the mail there.

Then I could change to said folders (I also have a need to keep track of
private mail and business mail separately) and see whether something is still
flagged as "no reply yet".

Adding a flag to the X-Reply-Expected header to make it look like "business,
+2d" or "business, 2001-03-01" to also set dates after which to notify me - or
in the final revision even sync that with my Palm's ToDo list! - leave room
for further improvements...

However, this could possibly be implemented in a better way with some tighter
mutt integration. Now I don't have the necessary experience to implement this
myself inside mutt.

But I would be willing to offer my thoughts and some sort of compensation
(beer, chocolate, ... ;) to someone willing to implement this.

What do you all think?


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