If you haven't already, go check out the video on the home page. In short, courteous.ly is a service for showing people your current email load. After you give courteous.ly access to your Gmail account, it periodically checks your email load. You can tell courteous.ly what it should monitor to measure it: the unread messages in your inbox, the total number of messages in your inbox or how much mail you've sent recently. When somebody clicks your courteous.ly link, they'll see that your current email load is either "light," "normal" or "high."
It's relative to you. If you normally have 40,000 unread messages in your inbox, what's 50 more? But if you usually have nothing in your inbox, then 50 unread messages is a big deal. courteous.ly keeps a log of how many messages it sees to get a feel for what's normal for you. That's why the service takes a few hours to warm up: it needs to understand your patterns.
Every 10 minutes.
We would love to work with every email account in the world. But we don't want to store passwords. That's what it comes down to. Gmail has an infrastructure that allows courteous.ly to work without ever knowing or storing anybody's password. Most other email services do not. If you'd like courteous.ly for your company's mail, drop us a line.
Absolutely not. courteous.ly opens your mailboxes just to see how many messages are there. If you enable them, courteous.ly has features that look at Subject lines and dates for certain messages, but only if you want those features. courteous.ly never sees a message's content.
courteous.ly uses a key provided by Google to access your number of messages. We store the key under strong encryption, and every time we transfer data anywhere we use strong encryption. This includes when we retrieve your number of messages.
Yep. courteous.ly was designed by Eric Gilbert, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech's College of Computing. You can learn more about me and my group at our research page. The hope is that courteous.ly is a useful service. We may end up contacting courteous.ly users for future studies we think up about email, but you can participate or not at that time. It's totally up to you. You can see the full information about the research project here.
courteous.ly is written entirely in Scala , around a delightful little web framework called Scalatra. courteous.ly's backend also runs on Scala, using the the Java secure IMAP libraries and Google's XOAuth library. We'll probably write a blog post about it soon.