vrypan — Panayotis Vryonis
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VSRE: very short reply expected (netiquette)


Read first: For a more refined version of VSRE visit VSRE.info.


I get a lot of email: requests for advice, presentations, meetings, new projects/services... In most of these cases, the answer itself could be as simple as “Yes”, “No”, or “Tuesday”, or “I’ll be available after July”.

But I want to be polite, which adds a considerable overhead to delivering a simple reply.

The “I can’t”, ends up looking something like “Dear John, thank you ..., I would be happy to ... but right now I’m ... and ... and ... and I won’t be able to invest the required amount of time. Please [....] Thank you”. Even saying yes, gets more complicated than it should: unless I know the sender really well, I’ll go with something more than “Great. Yes. Send me details.”.

As a result I find myself delaying replies, until get the time to write “a proper reply”, and this takes much more time than it should.

Remember “RSVP” that indicates that the sender (of an invitation) expects a reply? What if, much like in the case of RSVP, the sender had a way to inform me in advance that a very short reply is welcome?

I’ll call it VSRE, for “Very Short Reply Expected”. It will be a way to indicate that it’s OK for the recipient to give a very short reply. So when I see an email with subject “VSRE: Invitation to participate to event X”, I’ll know in advance I can safely reply with a “yes, thank you”, or even a simple “no”.

“VSRE” can also be used at the end of your email, like this

Looking forward to your reply (VSRE),


or even like this

VSRE, John.

Yes, VSREs will be the first emails I’ll answer. Yes, VSREs will be the emails I’d rather answer on my mobile.

However, if you use VSRE, make sure your email can be replied using a very short reply. I mean, some questions require a long answer. If you add VSRE at the subject of an email that requires a long answer, I’ll probably reply with “VSR not possible, check out what VSRE stands for” and a link to this post.

The rules:

  • VSRE stands for “Very Short Reply Expected”
  • In this context, a very short reply can be a single word, and is usually consisted of no more than five.
  • If you ask for VSRE, expect to get answers like “No.” or “Ping me in 4 weeks”. If you wanted the full story, you shouldn’t have used VSRE in the first place.

If you like the idea, spread the word. The more people are aware of it, the more it will make sense using it. (update: the best way to link to this is http://vsre.info/)

Feel free to copy this post (a link back here will be appreciated) or (even better) describe the idea behind VSRE in your own words.

If you write something that extends (or debates) the idea, send me an email, or ping me on twitter (@vrypan).

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This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

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