How many seminars… and emails announcing those seminars is enough…?

I’m overwhelmed by the plethora of seminars and journal clubs available to attend in departments or programs that I’m closely affiliated with on this campus. We have a Monday afternoon seminar, two Wednesday journal clubs (these meet simultaneously so one just has to make a choice), a Tuesday 11:30 seminar, and both Wednesday and Thursday afternoon seminars. I shouldn’t complain, more opportunity to learn ze hot scienz is better than less- right?

Here comes the complaining part: I’m just mystified  with the voluminous and totally unnecessary amount of email that I get advertising said seminars and journal clubs. I listed 6 events up there- but I get way more than 6 emails advertising those events. There are folks on campus that feel they need to send out two emails literally 1 second apart advertising these seminars, like two weeks in advance. Then, well meaning individuals feel the need to forward all the seminar announcements again- usually there is one or two departmental persons who will do this, and a couple of dean-type individuals. So now I’ve gotten 6 emails about the same seminar, two weeks in advance…..multiply by 6 seminars and you’ve suddenly got 36 emails just about seminars- and yikes- that is 30 more than you really need. I’ve not included in this total the emails that come the day before and the day of the actual event- where I maybe get 2 or 3 announcements per seminar yet AGAIN.  This whole train of forwarding and forwarding has gotten totally out of whack- I can’t find the important email in my inbox anymore over all the damn duplicate emails about SEMINARS….

Seriously, in addition to the email inbox, the spam box, the trash, and the outbox, I need a duplicates box where duplicates go automatically and get deleted at a regular interval…

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6 thoughts on “How many seminars… and emails announcing those seminars is enough…?

  1. My department does this:
    All seminar and journal club announcements are sent to the chair’s secretary. He compiles them and sends out a list of this weeks events each Monday morning. I post the list on my office door. This works because the vast majority of these events are regular, so I have the ones that most interest me in my calendar on a repeating basis. “Special events” are at the bottom of each weekly list well in advance of the event.

  2. I completely agree. My inbox is so filled with campus seminar and event announcements I can’t find useful email. If you don’t think you can fill a room based on the content of the talk or coolness of the event, maybe you should consider not having the event, eh?

  3. I think this is connected to the wider problem of contractual obligations in re faculty service. I’ve long suspected that there simply isn’t enough service in a university to satisfy the 10% service requirement for all faculty. But rather than face this simple truth and deal with it in an efficient manner by reducing the requirement, or accepting that not everybody needs to be a member of a committee at a given time, extra work gets created out of the blue to make up the shortfall.

    This was apparent to me recently when I was asked to serve on a particular committee that I had never heard of but that apparently been around for a while. There was no information as to how often the committee should meet and exactly what it should plan to accomplish when it did. All that was clear was that, in order for the requester to satisfy their own obligation as part of their own committee to ensure that other committees were manned, this committee opening had to be filled.

    Academic life sometimes reminds me of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

  4. Yep, same here – at least two people send mass emails about each seminar, and then all the forwards… in my case it’s exacerbated by having two email accounts (I moved from a department that uses the umbrella organisation’s domain name in its email addresses to one that has its own), so I get double the duplicates. I don’t want to shut down the old email address because then I’d lose access to the WiFi network in that building (which I’m in at least a few times a week), but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s worth it…

  5. I’ve struggled with this as well. Many adectodotal interviews have got me to conclude that many people (too many people) rely on the emails and they should stay.

    two things:
    1) email filters. None of those reminders need to hit your inbox if you don’t want them to. Your inbox should not be your calendar. If the emails are not easy to filter, request the organizers use a common subject header like [Seminar] or [Journal Club].

    2) Google Calendars for seminar schedules. The people can set up their own reminders in their calendar of choice. http://www.astrobetter.com/seminar-calendars/

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