Thursday 12 April 2012

The ultimate email auto-response

Prague Humor
Photo credit: szeke

Andy Field (who actually gave me a v. helpful response to a query via Twitter...) demonstrates how it should be done:

12 April 2012 06:34
This is an automatic reply.

I'm on study leave writing 'Discovering Statistics Using SPSS 4'. This essentially means that I'm locked in a mental Dungeon for the next 6 months in which intrusions from the outside world are like needles lancing my brain. They hurt, and hence I'm going to ignore them. If you really need to get hold of me then you should write a letter and insert it into the stale bread that they push through my cell door every morning. Or you can follow my demented ramblings (or 'progress' as some people call it) on Facebook and Twitter.

I will start to emerge back into reality (some might argue I was never in it) sometime in April 2012, at which point please resend your email if you still require a response.


  1. I, like so many before me, would not have done as well in statistics without this man and his Doom-themed website.

  2. That's wonderful. It would be interesting to see what proportion of e-mails got re-sent once the author had re-emerged. If the proportion were low, that would suggest that many e-mails never need to be sent in the first place.

    One would have to control for the fact that some people might be put off re-sending by the gruesome mental image of a dungeon. I suppose one could do this by re-running the experiment with an "I am resting in a meadow for six months, please re-send later" message.

    Just to be ridiculously pedantic, would needles lancing the brain hurt? I thought the brain lacked pain sensors. Something more metaphorical, such as "needles lancing the mind", would not be open to this objection. Instead, it would distress at least some non-physicalist philosophers of mind.

  3. I just saw this via your catalogue.

    I really need to re-write my auto-response as at the moment everyone assumes "I'm away from the office on adoption leave and will be back late 2012" means "I'm secretly reading every single one of the thousands of emails I've received but only responding to the ones that I feel like as I have no actual baby at home needing care, or if I do I have a fleet of nannies on tap, and will be amply able to come to your seminar/review your article/write your chapter/lecture/talk".

    (actually, I think I've just written exactly what I need to put in my auto-response...)