August 3, 2006 spout

3 Degrees of Email Separation

Microsoft is a sea of answers if only you can find the right person to ask. In my experience, I get a lot of those incoming questions, both internally and externally. Often, I don’t know the answer, but I can direct the email to someone closer, who will either know the answer or the right person to ask and so on.

Depending on how well a person in this chain is at answering this email, this process can take minutes or days, but it almost always ends up with the person that knows the answer within 3 emails. Often this chain involves an internal mailing list (lots of external questions end up on internal email aliases, insults and all : ), which doesn’t necessarily shorten the chain, but it does tend to shorten the response time.

I consider the ability to follow this chain to an answer one of the huge benefits of my industry — I wish I was able to tap into it in other disciples, e.g. health care, financial, home repair, etc. Likely these chains exist in other areas, too, I just don’t know the first link in the chain. I actually tried to establish a financial chain one time, but that just pissed off the guy who was always my first email. : )